Firms To Watch: Social housing

Sharratts, a boutique firm based in Brasted, Kent, specialises in acquisitions and development for affordable housing, with a large client list of registered providers in the South East and London.

Social housing in South East

Batchelors

Bromley-based Batchelors boasts a strong team with experience spanning housing management and development. Managing partner Thaine Wilson oversees the overall offering, while Andrew Harmer heads up the housing management offering. Harmer is also a deputy district judge, with significant experience handling complex evictions and injunctions. Gavinder Ryait acts as assistant head of the housing management subteam, where she is especially well regarded for her work relating to antisocial behaviour. Elaine Allen is also recommended for her work on the planning and development side.

Practice head(s):

Thaine Wilson; Andrew Harmer; Gavinder Ryait

Other key lawyers:

Elaine Allen

Testimonials

‘The team are professional and friendly. I have worked with several members of the team and they all approach their work with zeal and understanding. I feel I can trust them to fulfil their duties, give objective advice and understand the complexities of housing management fully. they are always available to support as required.’

‘The team has a well-deserved reputation for client care and an excellent ‘feel’ for the market. They are very responsive, extremely well-informed and up to date, and responsive to client needs.’

‘Thaine Wilson is a superb lawyer who always goes the extra mile for his clients. He knows his brief and works closely with counsel on his cases. He is realistic and always works in his clients best interests. A definite top-banding lawyer in this sector.’

‘Andrew Harmer is a very knowledgeable about the Housing sector in general. He is friendly and develops very good relationships with his clients. Andrew inspires real confidence in his cleints.’

‘Gavinder Ryait provides a consistently first class service for her clients, works so hard and ensures that the best results are obtained.’

‘Their expertise and clear understanding of the social housing industry are amazing. They have a wonderful diversity and inclusive team. This allows them to understand the issues/opportunities/costs faced by social housing management operators. They discuss the case and approach jointly with their clients, are upfront about their cost.’

‘The whole team are very knowledgeable. They take their time to understand the client and issues at hand and provide solutions that hit at the heart of the matter. They can be contacted at any time for advice or to run matters by them and are very happy to always help.’

‘Batchelors provide a personalised service, where Gavinder Ryait has taken the time to look into each case and provide the relevant advice. They have been responsive, willing to provide advise and support where needed.’

Key clients

Sutton Living Limited

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

London & Quadrant Housing Trust

Wandle Housing Association

PA Housing

Swan Housing Association

Hexagon Housing Association

Charlton Triangle Homes (part of the Peabody Group)

Notting Hill Housing Group

East End Homes Ltd

Work highlights

  • For One Housing Group, instructed to draft and issue a without notice emergency ASB injunction application at the Central London County Court.
  • Advising Sutton Living on a proposed scheme is for the demolition of existing garages and cadet hut and the erection of a four-storey residential development.
  • Successfully represented Charlton Triangle Homes, after a contested trial, and secured an outright order for possession (on a mandatory ground) against a tenant who had failed to occupy the property as her only or principal home.

Capsticks LLP

Capsticks LLP offers the full spectrum of housing advice to its large client base, with specialisms including management, regeneration and redevelopment, and portfolio management. Michael Owen heads the Housing Management team, while Spencer Vella Sultana leads on Housing & Regeneration. Owen now acts solely for registered providers and local authorities, and provides advice on issues extending to antisocial behaviour policy. Sultana, meanwhile, is adept at advising on major development projects from inception through to completion. Legal directors Katrina Day and Mike Regan are recommended for their work in procurement and commercial portfolio management, respectively, while associate Sarah Christy is a key contact on matters relating to antisocial behaviour. Suzanne Smith has broad experience, and was promoted to partner in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Michael Owen; Spencer Vella Sultana

Other key lawyers:

Suzanne Smith; Katrina Day; Mike Regan; Sarah Christy

Testimonials

‘Great diversity and breadth of knowledge across many solicitors and paralegals – you never worry if your instructing officer is unavailable because someone will be able to pick up and the case and help.’

‘We have worked with Capsticks for many years now and find that theres nothing that is too much trouble, from general advice through to full instruction on a case. We are a busy RP and need reliable and efficient advice with our cases – I can confirm that we certainly have that.’

‘Capsticks has the flexibility to shape its service to ensure it is providing what the client needs,without incurring unnecessary costs. In addition to frugality, they are second to none, in excellence at the point of service delivery. Each and every team member I have spoken to, has been friendly, approachable and very knowledgable, keeping me updated on the cases and providing advice and assistance when needed.’

‘I work mainly with Mike Owen. I can’t speak highly enough of him and his approach. He is professional yet approachable and is always open to provide advice and a steer when we are struggling for how to deal with a particular problem.’

‘An exceptional team with our project lead Katrina Day – outstanding and a pleasure to work with. Kat has excellent commercial knowledge, superb attention to detail and a strong problem solving approach.’

‘Michael Owen is always accessible and responsive and knowledgeable. He is always someone who gives plain, clear advice, giving the legal position but always getting the landlord position and giving common sense, practical options.’

‘Katrina Day will also provide any advice in a very clear, transparent way setting out the key issues, any risks and her recommendations. Katrina is quick to offer help with drafting of any legal letters or amendments to contracts etc. and has always been honest, open and clear with her advice as well as being friendly, helpful and polite. She is a real pleasure to work with and a real asset to Capsticks.’

Key clients

Livewest

Riverside

Sovereign

Southern

Raven Housing Trust

PA Housing

Aster Group

Two Rivers

Moat Homes

Platform Housing

Work highlights

  • Represented Riverside on a leading housing fraud case, obtaining the second largest ever Unlawful Profit Order in the country (£145,111.89), together with substantial costs.
  • Represented Aster to obtain an out of hours emergency injunction in the High Court with a Power of Arrest, to remove an occupier from premises which had become structurally unsafe following a car collision.
  • Acted for Tonic Housing in relation to the acquisition of 19 units at Bankhouse in London from another Registered Provider. This scheme is unique as it has been delivered as the Country’s first LGBTQ+ shared ownership scheme.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP's large national social housing team acts for clients including registered providers, local authorities, and management organisations. The practice is especially focused on housing management, where its experience ranges from planning and development to sales, conveyancing, and litigation. Joint practice head Lindsay Felstead, based in Southampton, boasts expertise across contentious and non-contentious matters, including acting as an advocate in housing management disputes. Chidem Aliss  and Amy Peacey are each strong in commercial matters, and Sarah Orchard is a key contact on Equality Act cases and cases relating to mental instability. Senga Howells is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Lindsay Felstead; Vicky Kells

Other key lawyers:

Chidem Aliss; Amy Peacey; Sarah Orchard; Senga Howells

Testimonials

‘Clarke Willmott are responsive to your client needs and provide a good professional service. They always provide sound and detailed advice, protecting your interests and ensuring good, robust contract terms are agreed.’

‘A very prompt service. The advice we give is pragmatic and insightful helping us to resolve complex issues.’

‘Sarah Orchard provides a very good service and is friendly, professional and knowledgable.’

‘Diligent and responsive to your client needs. They take the time to explore and resolve issues with you and will work hard to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved.’

‘I truly find the depth and breadth of the team as magnificent. Whether I am dealing with Sarah Orchard or any other member of the team, I receive highly satisfying advice on social housing matters. The team has very strong knowledge and experience. They do not just take cases to make money, but they care about me as a client as well, by providing advices to help me save money.’

‘Clarke Willmott LLP are reliable, trustworthy and quality solicitors and Sarah Orchard, in particular, has been most helpful. Sarah Orchard is very accessible, diligent, and dependable when it comes to dealing with me and the Association’s legal needs. I have used multiple solicitors in the past, but the relationship with Sarah Orchard and Clarke Willmott LLP has proven to exceed my expectations.’

‘The staff at Clarke Willmott are excellent, so knowledgeable and friendly. When you work with Clarke Willmott, you don’t feel like they are an external company, you feel like they are part of your own organisation because they are so invested in you and want to provide the best service they can. They offer expert knowledge and have provided free training to staff in our organisation. In addition, they provide the best and most honest advice they can which allows our organisation to make a decision on what action we wish to take based on our own budgets – it’s not all about money making for Clarke Willmott.’

‘I have been working a lot with Senga Howells who has been absolutely excellent. She is very knowledgeable and honest and on the extremely rare occasion she may not know the answer to something, she will make sure she finds out for you. Senga is prompt in her responses and always makes time to speak to you. She is such a fantastic asset to Clarke Willmott. Senga is thorough, patient and very fair in her approach to everything.’

‘I have also been extremely impressed with Lindsay Felstead, she is incredibly knowledgeable and is such a positive advocate for Social Housing Law. She is so commercially aware of the wider sector and shares this knowledge with our organisation.’

Key clients

Silva Homes

Sovereign

Newlon Housing Trust

Clarion

Saxon Weald

Abri (Radian)

Paradigm Housing

Orbit

LiveWest

Southdown Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for Orbit Group Limited on the sale of a portfolio of 191 of its shared ownership properties.
  • Advised Aster on the negotiation and exchange of a Development Agreement for the construction and acquisition of 32 affordable dwellings in Yapton, West Sussex.
  • For Southdown Housing Association, successfully defended a procurement challenge concerning the procurement process for an electrical services and maintenance contract for Southdown’s social housing estates in the South Coast of England.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Led by Manjinder Kaur Atwal and based in Harrow, Duncan Lewis Solicitors‘ housing team boasts a wealth of experience acting for tenants on a wide range of matters. Atwal has expertise in disputes in areas including possession claims, evictions, disrepair and negligency, and homelessness, where she is supported by solicitor Daljit Singh. Sadaf Mir‘s practice often involves overlapping duties under the Children Act, Care Act, and Equality Act, while Vincent Davis has particular experience with vulnerable clients.  In addition, the team is contracted with the Legal Aid Agency to provide subsidised services to social tenants in England and Wales, and handles pro bono and duty work.

Practice head(s):

Manjinder Kaur Atwal

Other key lawyers:

Daljit Singh; Sadaf Mir; Vincent Davis

Testimonials

‘Very friendly and professional – made me feel like I was their only client. Excellent understanding on all matters relating to the case.’

‘There can be few finer client experiences than that of Duncan Lewis’s example of sustained legal conviction combined with outstanding advocacy.’

‘The social housing team has enormous capacity, and is better than most legal aid providers at accepting clients and taking on casework.’

‘Duncan Lewis have a creative, brave and passionate commitment to the needs of its clients in the social housing field. I have seen some excellent arguments advanced on behalf of clients and these have translated into tangible results. Their staff are personable and professional with a real understanding on how best to manage client expectations and work collaboratively with counsel.’

‘Manjinder Kaur Atwal is a real star and showcases her intellect and experience in all cases I have worked with her on.

‘Daljit Singh Shina – exceptionally knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with!’

‘I am very impressed with how Sadaf Mir communicates with clients, especially the kindness and compassion she shows them. Sadaf is able to explain to the clients about their case in a way that they understand and provides them with opportunities to ask questions. Sadaf also gets excellent results for the clients and she is always the first solicitor that I refer to for housing issues!’

‘Vincent Davis is exceptional at dealing with difficult cases, opponents, and even clients. Manjinder Kaur Atwal manages to combine a calming and reassuring presence with meticulous attention to detail and tremendous legal knowledge.’

Key clients

Hughes Jarvis Ltd v Searle & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ 1

Ibrahim v Haringey LBC [2021[ EWHC 731 (QB)

Luton Community Housing Ltd v Durdana [2020] EWCA Civ 445 (26 March 2020)

TM (a protected party by his litigation friend DM) v Metropolitan Housing Trust Ltd [2020] EWHC 311 (QB)

Work highlights

  • Represented the Defendant in a possession claim where the Claimant sought possession based on Ground 17 of the Housing Act 1988 in respect of the Defendant’s premises.
  • Acting for the Claimant in housing possession appeal matter at the High Court and now at the County Court.
  • Acting on a breach of PSED case, and seeking permission sought in the Court of Appeal.

Judge & Priestley LLP

Judge & Priestley LLP's team of experienced housing and property management specialists advises a large client base of property owners and managing agents and private landlords, with experience in housing management litigation including possession, neighbour disputes, disrepair, and antisocial behaviour. Other areas of expertise include commercial property and leasehold enfranchisement. Team head Nitika Singh is especially well known for her niche experience in cases involving mental health issues, while partner Mark Oakley leads on property litigation. Pamela Bachu and Elaine Bathers are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Nitika Singh

Other key lawyers:

Mark Oakley; Pamela Bachu; Elaine Bathers

Testimonials

‘The team is diverse which is very encouraging in the legal profession. They are also very good. Their level of preparation and understanding of their cases, the law, and their clients is of a high standard.’

‘They are all great team players and we work well together, the service we get from the whole team is exceptional.’

‘Elaine Bathers is well organised, calm, and well prepared. She thinks ahead in a case and strategises accordingly. Nitika Singh gives strong leadership to the team and is ahead of anticipating and dealing with issues on complex cases. Pamela Bachu is extremely experienced and is a very confident and capable pair of hands on any complex case. She has a realistic yet tenacious approach.’

‘Fast responses and all cases are dealt with in a professional manner, all advce given is outstanding and their service has also saved the company I work for money. We work great as a team and they are always just a phone call away for any further advice if needed.’

‘They get back to you quickly with clear and concise replies and the minimum of jargon.’

Key clients

CHIC (Central Housing Investment Consortium Ltd)

London Borough Southwark (disrepair)

Barnet Homes (London Borough of Barnet)

London Borough of Havering

London Borough of Southwark (ASB)

London Borough of Lambeth (possession)

London Borough of Lambeth (disrepair)

London Borough of Camden

Wandle Homes

Birmingham City Council

Open Door Homes

Devon Mansions TMO

Browning E.M.A. TMO

D’eynsford TMO

Tower Hamlets Homes

Phoenix Community Housing

Work highlights

  • Advised Local Authority Housing Team on possession/injunction matter; providing urgent advice and assistance relating to possession/injunction of an elderly resident in a sheltered block.
  • Advised Local Authority on a disrepair claim. The matter related to a claim for disrepair by the tenant which had been issued in the sum of £10,000.
  • Advised Local Authority on nuisance matter under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in Bromley Magistrates court. Case was struck out.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP's Basingstoke-based social housing team provides a broad service to its large client base of predominantly housing providers and associations, with dedicated subteams handling homeownership, social housing finance, and portfolio and asset management. Practice head Linda Storey focuses on the transactional side, often handling acquisitions and disposals as well as their associated planning agreements. Eugene Wojciechowski heads the social housing employment offering, where he acts on matters relating to issues including discrimination and modern slavery. Commercial property lawyer Catherine Bradshaw advises on complex transactions, acquisitions, and regeneration schemes, while associate Charlotte D’Avola leads on securitisation and portfolio management. Laura McCann and Graham Phillips are also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Linda Storey

Other key lawyers:

Eugene Wojciechowski; Catherine Bradshaw; Charlotte D’Avola; Laura McCann; Graham Phillips

Testimonials

‘The social housing team provide an excellent service, the team are friendly and patient and take the time to explain and provide alternative options. Matters are dealt with promptly and nothing is too much bother.’

‘They have been responsive and quick to turn around enquiries.’

‘Penningtons Manches Cooper’s team have a vast experience of knowledge for all homeownership matters.’

‘Linda Storey and Laura McCann have provided us a really great service and continue to impress with their knowledge and experience and willingness to provide an excellent service. They provide excellent value for money on the service and very good at supporting and helping us shape our process to make the service we provide more efficient to our customers.’

‘Tailored service, excellent knowledge of our business, timely responses, clear explanations, takes the time to discuss matters’

‘The people we use within the team are always very helpful and responsive. They act professionally and give good, timely and practical advice when dealing with issues as they arise.’

‘They are ‘can do’ people that look for constructive solutions and help us to explore the options before making a decision. They also talk in plain English so that we understand what the real issues are.’

Key clients

Bromford Housing Group

Metropolitan Thame Valley

Accent

Hightown Housing Association

Peabody / Catalyst

Plymouth Community Homes

Riverside Group

Saxon Weald

Sovereign Housing

Bpha Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing as lead property counsel in connection with the establishment of its EMTN programme in July 2021 and completion of the security aspects of its initial £250m sustainability bond.
  • Advising Peabody Group on a six-phased regeneration site in East London to a great success generating £60m in revenue for the client on completion.
  • Acting for Hightown in connection with the acquisition of a site in Chesham for development to provide 34 units of affordable housing worth £9m.

Perrin Myddelton

Perrin Myddelton‘s Harpenden-based development and social housing team acts predominantly for housing developers and local authorities, with experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters. Team lead Sanjeev Shah advises registered providers on residential and mixed-use development schemes, including on investment purchases, acquisitions, and funding. Managing partner Fred Perrin is a recognised lead in the sector, often providing strategic advice on large-scale social housing projects. Simon Braun is a solicitor-advocate and accredited mediator, and has appeared before the high court and Court of Appeal on matters concerning antisocial behaviour and homelessness. Jeremy Newman, Jonathan Jennings, and Kathryn Dale are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Fred Perrin; Sanjeev Shah; Simon Braun

Testimonials

‘Always supportive and helpful as well as knowledgeable.  They feel like part of our team.’

Key clients

B3 Living

Eastlight Community Homes

Evera Homes

Grand Union Housing Group

Longhurst Homes

Origin Housing Group

Places for People

Settle Group

Watford Community Housing

Zero C Holdings

Work highlights

  • Advised Longhurst Group concerning its acquisition of 136 affordable housing units at Littleport, Cambridgeshire, delivered over a number of phases with a development value of c. £24m.
  • Advised Luton Community Housing Association (trading as Squared) concerning the forming of a joint-venture new company with Luton Borough Council, created as funding from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government was not sufficient to ensure the long-term financial stability of the schemes initially funded by them.
  • Acted in the case of Luton Community Housing Limited (LCH) v Duradana, which has been considered by the Supreme Court.

EMW Law LLP

Headed by Lucy Richardson in Milton Keynes, EMW Law LLP's social housing team focuses on property development, with experience in acquisitions, development agreements, conveyancing, and associated matters. As team lead, legal director Richardson coordinates project delivery across the firm's commercial property, sales, and construction practitioners. The practice was strengthened in this area by the June 2021 hire of legal director Adele Scrivens from Perrin Myddelton, bringing further experience in site setup and in-house client training. Legal director Marco Mauro heads the planning department, while Josh Clark is a residential development lawyer with social housing experience.

Practice head(s):

Lucy Richardson

Other key lawyers:

Adele Scrivens; Marco Mauro; Josh Clark

Testimonials

‘The team are excellent communicators and are always available. We get regular updates on all our transactions.’

‘We have a really good relationship with EMW, and this focuses on problem solving through collaboration and honesty with each other.’

‘Lucy Richardson – honest, hardworking, will go the extra mile, good at explaining issues in non-legal speak’

Key clients

Chartered Housing Institute Consortium

Cottsway Housing Association Limited (including Cottsway 2)

First Garden Cities Homes Limited

Grand Union Housing Group Limited (including Grand Union Homes Limited)

Milton Keynes Community Foundation

Milton Keynes YMCA Limited

Settle Group

Stonewater (including Stonewater Limited, Stonewater Procurement Limited, Stonewater (2) Limited, Stonewater (3) Limited and Stonewater Developments Limited)

Thrive Homes Limited

YMCA Bedfordshire

Work highlights

  • Acted for a housing association in its largest ever s.106 acquisition, comprising 93 affordable units across 15 phases, conditional on planning with a sale contract and separate development agreement, from a PLC developer on a golden brick basis with a build agreement.
  • Represented housing association client on the unconditional acquisition of 45 flats for £9.25m which the client intends to sell and rent as 100% affordable housing.
  • Acted for Grand Union Housing Group Limited in relation to this strategically important site to build over 300 much needed affordable homes.

Turpin & Miller LLP

With its distinctive focus on tenant-side and legal aid work, Turpin & Miller LLP‘s social housing practice occupies a unique niche in its area. The team is headed by Laura Coyle, who works from the firm’s Oxford office and was recently promoted to partner. She is supported by Reading-based associate Vneeta Ratti, who has particular experience in homelessness law.

Practice head(s):

Laura Coyle

Other key lawyers:

Vneeta Ratti

Testimonials

‘Turpin Miller are the only solicitors in our area who provide housing/legal aid advice that we can refer our clients to both with court desk help and legal aid. We specifically refer clients who are facing eviction or have possession proceedings relating to rent arrears and antisocial behaviour. Turpin Miller have provided an invaluable service to both us and our clients with their assistance, advice and representation.’

‘Laura Coyle is exceptional in her responsiveness, collaborative approach, ability to work with vulnerable clients, her knowledge and experience of social housing law. I have never worked with anybody as effective and helpful on homelessness cases.’

‘Turpin & Miller’s Housing team have made a huge effort to work with us on cases to make sure vulnerable clients get the best possible outcome. They collaborate brilliantly with us and their flexibility in working with clients who would not normally access legal support is exceptional.’

‘Laura Coyle’s qualities are very commendable. She is knowledgeable, professional and has ability to resolve and obtain a favourable outcome for her client in difficult circumstances. Her clients placed a great deal of trust in her as she is able to deliver great results.’

‘All of the team are highly motivated by service to the community and supporting the most deprived. Laura Coyle and Vneeta Ratti combine professionalism with warmth and approachability to great effect. The team, go to great lengths to support clients. They are a pleasure to work with and we and our clients have nothing but praise for their support and outcomes.’

‘Laura Coyle is a tireless advocate for social housing tenants, across a range of cases, and her determination and thoroughness has achieved impressive results in a number of cases on which we have worked together.’

‘Turpin Miller has a fantastic Housing team, and the members I have worked with go well beyond the call of duty to make sure tenants and people experiencing homelessness get the best service and outcomes possible. The team is always looking to expand their knowledge and are keen to take cases in novel or developing areas of housing law.’

‘Laura Coyle – the best of an outstanding bunch. Vneeta Ratti – Incredibly hard-working and great representation of vulnerable clients.’

Key clients

Clients arising from the Housing Possession Court Duty scheme at Oxford County Court and Reading County Court

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a client against a claim for possession brought on the basis of anti-social behaviour where the client had a hoarding disorder and proceedings were adjourned after assistance was obtained for the client in clearing her property.
  • Represented a defendant who alleged that her son had fraudulently removed her name from the title deeds to their jointly owned home and remortgaged the property in obtaining a declaration that she was entitled to fifty per cent of the equity.
  • Successfully defended a client against both a claim for possession, injunction proceedings and an application for committal to prison resulting in her being rehoused.