Social housing in Scotland

Harper Macleod LLP

Harper Macleod LLP's extensive registered social landlord (RSL) portfolio is testimony to the team's substantial expertise in this sector, which is also regularly called upon by other players in the sector such as government bodies and local authorities alongside private developers. Following a multidisciplinary approach, the team is well placed to provide its clients with full-service advice, including assistance with private placement deals, mergers and group restructures, M&A, procurement and regulatory matters. While co-head James McMorrow focuses on corporate, commercial, regulatory and public procurement issues, co-head Derek Hogg puts particular emphasis on governance, regulatory and constitutional work. Collette Miller, who made partner in April 2019, is another key contact for social housing legislation and regulatory issues.

Practice head(s):

James McMorrow; Derek Hogg

Other key lawyers:

David McIndoe;  Collette Miller


Personable, practical and down-to-earth legal advice. Naturally very considered and bespoke to our particular needs and issues.

The firm has an excellent reputation for delivering a high level of service and for the in-depth knowledge and experience they have of the Scottish housing sector and environment, over a range of areas from regulation and governance to funding and finance.

James McMorrow and his associates provided detailed advice and suggested wording for our response on a timeous basis.

Derek Hogg has considerable expertise and knowledge of the housing sector and is a recognised industry expert in the regulation of housing associations. Not only did he demonstrate a high level of skill in terms of the advice he gave but also he was very pragmatic in his assessment of the impact of various loan clauses. In this he exhibited a thorough understanding of our organisation and the sector.

Key clients

Scottish Government (Shared Equity Framework)

Link Group Limited

Port of Leith Housing Association Limited

Dunbritton Housing Association Limited

Scottish Borders Housing Association Limited

Kingdom Housing Association Limited

West of Scotland Housing Association Limited

Wheatley Housing Group Limited

Cunninghame Housing Association Limited

Hjaltland Housing Association Limited

Grampian Housing Association Limited

GB Social Housing PLC

Sanctuary Housing Association (including Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association and Sanctuary Homes (Scotland))

River Clyde Homes

Cairn Housing Association Limited

Caledonia Housing Association Limited

Govan Housing Association Limited

Queens Cross Housing Association Limited

Eildon Housing Association Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising the Scottish Government’s More Homes division on all aspects of its affordable housing shared equity schemes, including the recently launched First Home Fund.
  • Advising Queens Cross Housing Association Limited on a £40m private placement with M&G Investments.
  • Advising Glasgow City Council on its procurement of an alliance contracting solution worth £187m to prevent and alleviate homelessness in Glasgow.
  • Advising Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) on all governance, constitutional, regulatory and diligence matters arising from its integration into the Wheatley Group structure.
  • Advising Hjaltland Housing Association Limited (HHA) on the procurement of the first phase of a masterplan to develop a significant housing development site at Staneyhill in Lerwick.

T C Young

T C Young draws on a wealth of experience advising registered social landlords (RSLs) on the full spectrum of social housing matters. Team head Alison Brynes has a focus on property and factoring work, while litigator Alastair McKendrick and managing partner Andrew Cowan frequently handle disputes, including eviction processes. Consultant Len Freedman provides assistance to funders and RSLs with credit facilities and bond financing agreements, while projects team head Lauren Little is a key contact for public procurement. Other work includes compliance and governance, transactional matters, transfers of engagements and anti-social behaviour actions.

Practice head(s):

Alison Brynes


Extensive experience across the whole range of housing issues with knowledgeable staff, significant expertise and a positive reputation.

TC Young is a firm with a team of very knowledgeable and approachable staff from receptionist to partner nothing is too much to ask them.

The depth of knowledge is fantastic.

All in all one of the most positive things about TC Young is the availability of their team, you can usually get the support and assistance you need whenever it’s required.

Very good communication, if someone is unavailable someone else within the team will always try and help and give advice.

Their key component is their ability to provide clear, consistent and accurate advice often when dealing with complex issues. At TC Young, they have encountered most circumstances and issues previously, therefore you are confident in the information being provided.

Very approachable and will always take time to explain.

TC Young provides a full ‘wrap-round’ service for housing associations which simplifies matters by having a ‘go-to’ firm and within that, ‘go-to’ experts. A key feature is that the legal team is personable and down to earth while maintaining a high level of professionalism. Staff – including up to partner level, are easy to access with direct dial lines and quick response times when unavailable. They combine sound legal advice coupled with a pragmatic approach.

TC Young has friendly, approachable and positive partners and associates and you are able to develop meaningful relationships with them which often leads to better discussion and challenge on difficult points.

Lauren Little is very thorough and provides easy to understand advice.

Lauren Little is one of the partners within TC Young and like a lot of her colleagues you are confident in her knowledge and expertise, but perhaps more important is her positive personality, willingness to help and ability to remove a lot of the legal jargon from discussions.

Both Alison Brynes and Lauren Little are not only very experienced, but also very good at explaining legal language in a way that is more easily understandable to a layperson like me.

Alison Brynes is immensely knowledgeable on land acquisitions.

Key clients

Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association

Southside Housing Association

East Kilbride and District Housing Association

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

Govanhill Housing Association

Forth Housing Association

Waverley Housing

Home Group

Glen Oaks Housing Association

Lochfield Park Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for Hanover (Scotland) HA on the transfer of engagements from Arklet HA.
  • Acted for Southside HA in a £30m five year revolving credit loan facility from Handelsbanken.
  • Instructed by Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) to roll out guidance and template documentation to assist SFHA members to comply with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, which was extended to RSLs in November 2019.
  • Assisted East Kilbride and District HA with the acquisition of a development site at Dundas Place, East Kilbride, on which the client plans to build 18 new flats; and with various associated issues.
  • Advised Forth HA on a transaction involving the acquisition and lease work concerning the regeneration of a former NHS building.

Addleshaw Goddard

The team at Addleshaw Goddard is led by Heather Pearson, whose primary focus lies on advising RSL clients on new-build developments, including site acquisitions, and property finance, but the group also acts for funders and third parties within the sector and is well versed in handling commercial matters, such as data protection and Freedom of Information issues. Its capabilities also cover the contentious space with instructions regularly involving recovery of possession proceedings and anti-social behaviour orders.

Practice head(s):

Heather Pearson

Other key lawyers:

Susan McDonald; Tom Speirs

Key clients

Svenska Handelsbanken

Ayrshire Housing

Kingdom Housing Association

Campion Homes

Link Group

Linstone Housing Association

Ayrshire Housing

Grampian Housing Association

Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association

Shire Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Kingdom Housing Association on the acquisition and development of two phases of Bertha Park, Perth, for the delivery of 112 social rented new build properties.
  • Advised a funder on their requested consent to the transfer of engagements of the business and assets of an RSL to the borrower RSL and the consolidated debt arrangements.
  • Instructed by Svenksa Handelsbanken to put in place a new facility agreement for the client with Southside Housing Association Limited by way of a £25m revolving credit facility.
  • Assisted Ayrshire Housing with the acquisition of a development site at Elba Street, Ayr, from CCG (Scotland) Limited with a linked building contract for the delivery of 27 flatted dwelling houses for social housing use.
  • Advised Ayrshire Housing on the acquisition of a development site at South Harbour Street, Ayr, from Dalvergen Homes (Scotland) Limited for future residential development.

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP has carved out a strong practice providing RSLs with financing and re-financing advice alongside assistance with site transactions, planning, procurement and regulatory matters. The team jointly led by commercial conveyancing expert Karen Brodie, employment lawyer Caroline Carr and litigator Grant Hunter also handles various commercial and property issues, including debt recovery and other contentious instructions. Patrice Fabien retired in May 2020.

Other key lawyers:

David Young

Key clients

Langstane Housing Association Ltd

Loreburn Housing Association Ltd

Govan Housing Association Ltd

Argyll Community Housing Association Ltd

Clyde Valley Housing Association Ltd

Partick Housing Association Ltd

Kingdom Housing Association Ltd

Berwickshire Housing Association Ltd

Grampian Housing Association Ltd

Queens Cross Housing Association Ltd

Hillhead Housing Association 2000

Lanarkshire Housing Association Ltd

ng homes (North Glasgow Housing Association)

Cathcart & District Housing Association Ltd

Tollcross Housing Association Ltd

Copperworks Housing Association Ltd

Blairtummock Housing Association Ltd

Craigdale Housing Association Ltd

Parkhead Housing Association Ltd

Provanhall Housing Association Ltd

Spire View Housing Association Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for Partick Housing Association Ltd in a re-finance exercise, providing assistance with master facility and lending agreements.
  • Assisted Clyde Valley Housing Association Ltd with multiple planning agreements for the release of planning permissions to support its development programme.
  • Acting for Argyll Community Housing Association Ltd (ACHA) in volume tenancy recoveries and debt recovery litigation.
  • Assisted Lanarkshire Housing Association with refinancing a loan with one of its existing lenders to enable it to initiate a number of building programmes.
  • Advised Copperworks Housing Association Ltd on funding arrangements required for its community green space project.


Working in close conjunction with various other departments, Shoosmiths is well placed to assist developer RSL clients and government-backed property funds with social housing projects, most notably in the mid-market rent model. Recent instructions included acquisitions, planning, construction and tax matters. Commercial and residential development transactions specialist Janette Speed heads the practice, which was augmented with the addition of planning expert Fraser Mitchell from Shepherd and Wedderburn in June 2019.

Practice head(s):

Janette Speed

Other key lawyers:

Fraser Mitchell


Very experienced rounded team. Good attention to detail.

Very approachable, friendly, explain what can sometimes be complicated transactions made easy, provide best advice.

Very approachable and able to communicate complex legal matters in a way which can help clients gain a better understanding.

Good communication and knowledge sharing within the team which allows other members to assist clients if their main point of contact is unavailable.

The Shoosmiths team understands the subtle differences that exist between the various HAs and their requirements, and is able to adapt contract styles and content to give us flexibility to conclude contracts in a way that works within the context of our group requirements.

Key clients

Port of Leith Housing Association

Kingdom Housing Association Limited

Persevere Developments Limited

PfP Capital Fund

Manor Estates Housing Association Limited

Bellway Homes

Mactaggart and Mickel

Balfour Beatty Homes


Robertson Partnership Homes

Work highlights

  • Advised PfP (Places for People) Capital Fund (PFPC MMR 1LP) on the £25m development funding acquisition of 166 mid-market rent units in a brownfield site in Edinburgh, including planning, construction and tax advice.
  • Advised Port of Leith Housing Association Limited on the acquisition of an affordable housing site via golden Brick structure at Ocean Drive Edinburgh, including VAT tax advice.
  • Acting for Bellway Homes Limited in the disposal of affordable units at a site in Edinburgh to a registered social landlord.
  • Acting for PFP Capital Fund in the forward fund of a development in Royston in the city centre of Glasgow for mid-market rent.
  • Acting for PFP Capital Fund in the forward fund of a development at Millerhill Edinburgh for mid-market rent; part of a development of 4000 new homes, including 700 affordable houses.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP has been particularly active providing affordable housing providers and housing charities with advice on site acquisitions and developments, including planning, construction and funding matters. This focus is a reflection of team head Peter Chambers' key areas of expertise, namely property development and finance.

Practice head(s):

Peter Chambers


The firm has an excellent reputation for delivering a high level of service and for the in-depth knowledge and experience they have of the Scottish housing sector and environment, over a range of areas from property acquisition to project assembly and security work to funding and finance.

Peter Chambers has considerable expertise and knowledge of the housing sector specifically and is a recognised industry expert in the property and land acquisition sector generally. Peter has extensive experience in complex land transactions and the construction sector making him ideally placed to advise on anything from more conventional property deals to innovative and specialist deals. His extensive experience means that he can apply knowledge and solutions to complex issues. He is a pleasure to work with because of his calm and confident manner.

Key clients

Sanctuary Housing Association

Scottish Futures Trust Investment Limited

Cruden Group

Springfield Properties plc

Hillcrest Housing Association Limited

Link Group Limited

Miller Homes Limited

Castlehill Housing Association Limited

First Endeavour LLP

Taylor Wimpey UK Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Bertha Park Limited in the development of 3,000 new homes on the outskirts of Perth, including affordable housing.
  • Advising Cruden Homes (East) Limited on the purchase, development and sale at foundation level of affordable housing at a number of sites across the East of Scotland.
  • Advising hub West Scotland Limited on the delivery of hub West’s first affordable housing project, partnering with East Dunbartonshire Council to provide over 80 affordable homes on the site of the former Tom Johnston House council offices in Kirkintilloch.
  • Advised Triple Point Social Housing REIT Plc on the purchase, lease and forward funding arrangements pertaining to the development of the 24 unit facility for adults with support needs at Bowling Green Street, Edinburgh.
  • Acted for Sanctuary Scotland Housing Association Limited in the acquisition of 14 affordable housing units at Conglass, Inverurie.

Thorntons Law LLP

Thorntons Law LLP's team is led by Dundee-based property development specialist Graham Wilson and adept at handling site acquisitions and funding arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Graham Wilson

Other key lawyers:

Chris Allan