Social housing in Wales

Blake Morgan LLP

Drawing upon a significant 'depth of knowledge' among team members, Blake Morgan LLP is well-equipped to provide 'reliable, clear and timely' advice to an impressive roster of Welsh and English housing associations across the gamut of contentious and non-contentious issues affecting their operations. 'Brilliant' team head Siân Jones  leads from the front and as well as her core work advising on housing management matters, has also recently been particularly active preparing a number of Welsh Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) for the imminent changes to residential landlord and tenant law which will be ushered in by the Renting Homes Wales Act. The 'exceptional' Louise Howells is also a key member of the team and provides 'solutions focused advice' to social housing clients across a range of property transactions, including on the acquisition, disposal and refinancing of properties.

Practice head(s):

Sian Jones

Testimonials

There is a depth of knowledge in the team and members of the team are skilled and on point with advice and solutions.’

I can always rely on the team at Blake Morgan to provide reliable, clear and timely advice. They are a pleasure to work with, regardless of the question I have on social housing law. I like how nothing is overcomplicated, it is easy to follow and is proportionate.’

Sian Jones is brilliant! I can always get hold of her when I need any legal advice, she’s really helpful, has a great sense of (very dry!) humour, and I trust her judgement and expertise. She is my “go to” person for all things legal in social housing.’

Louise Howells is supportive and takes time to go through matters with us, so we can make the right decisions and also identifies risks which need to be mitigated.’

Louise Howells is solutions-focused and a natural leader. She is an exceptional lawyer who amplifies her effectiveness by being a natural leader.’

Key clients

ClwydAlyn Housing

Newport City Homes

Bron Afon Housing Association

Melin Homes

Trivallis

Linc-Cymru Housing

Midland Heart

Sovereign

Platform Housing

Tai Tarian

Grwp Cynefin

Adra

Cartrefi Conwy

BPHA

Peabody Group

Coastal Housing Group

Tai Calon Housing

Waltham Forest Housing

Work highlights

  • Advised BPHA on its £24m acquisition of land for 143 affordable units.  
  • Advised Newport City Homes in a number of significant land and development acquisitions in Newport including its town centre acquisition of Griffin Island and Stow Park both of which will be strategic redevelopment schemes.
  • Advising numerous Welsh housing associations on issues relating to the FCA’s Senior Management and Certification Regime and Welsh Government governance and regulatory matters.

Hugh James

Social housing work is one of the core strands of Hugh James‘ business services offering and work for a huge number of Wales and England-based RSLs permeates throughout different practice areas within the firm, including commercial property, construction and employment. Team head Richard Macphail  specialises in development matters and continues to represent key client Pobl in relation to an innovative mixed use development, providing affordable new homes and workspace alongside a community urban farm. Caroline O’Flaherty is also a key member of the team and advises a number of high profile multimillion-pound regeneration schemes within the sector. Associate Bethan Gladwyn heads up the firm’s housing management team and is particularly well-versed in assisting RSLs and local authorities in measures to combat nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

Practice head(s):

Richard Macphail

Other key lawyers:

Caroline O’Flaherty; Bethan Gladwyn; Yvonne Davies; Iwan Jenkins

Key clients

Pobl Group

Linc Cymru

Curo Group

Newydd

Grwp Cynefin

Melin

Adra

Optivo

Barcud

Hafod Housing

Clarion Group

Work highlights

  • Advised Pobl Homes and Communities Limited on a pioneering project in Swansea accessing £15m of innovative funding and groundbreaking technology enabling fish waste to fertilise a rooftop garden.
  • Set up a collaboration of housing associations to implement the new Renting Homes (Wales) Act to ensure the approach is consistent across Wales.
  • Advising Adra and North Wales Housing, two North Walean RSLs, on a joint venture for the development of 21 new affordable homes in Penrhyn Bay to meet housing need in Conwy County.

Acuity Law

Acuity Law continues to gain impressive market share in the social housing sector after a number of recent strategic hires over the past few years, including the 'well-respected' Neil Morgan, who has considerable contentious expertise in the space and strong ties with numerous housing associations. Liz Gibbons  was the most recent hire, having joined in November 2021 from Capital Law Limited and she adds particular strength in relation to transactional real estate work in the sector.

Practice head(s):

Liz Gibbons ; Neil Morgan

Other key lawyers:

Damien Cann; Steve Morris

Key clients

Coastal Housing Group

Wales & West Housing

Cadwyn Housing Association Limited

Ateb Group

Barcud Group

Melin Homes

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association

Incrementum Housing Development Company

Rhondda Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Handling a considerable amount of work for Ateb Group, where Neil Morgan provided cover for the Housing Association’s in-house counsel who was off on maternity leave.
  • Advising the Principality Building Association from inception on an innovative regeneration scheme which will eventually result in the construction of 450 homes.
  • Instructed by Incrementum, the housing company arm of Warrington County Council, on two prominent schemes.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Acting on its own and also able to draw upon key resources from throughout the firm’s national network of offices, Clarke Willmott LLP‘s ‘very experienced and professional’ four-partner Cardiff-based team provides an increasingly broad array of services to stakeholders in the sector. Under the guidance of Vicky Kells , the team remains best-known, however, for its social housing finance expertise on behalf of a balanced mix of lenders and housing associations. Kells specialises in advising on all property security aspects associated with loan facilities, private placements and bond issuances. Fraser MacRae is also pivotal to the firm’s success in the social housing finance space given his aptitude at advising borrowers and lenders on the drafting and negotiation of syndicated/bilateral loans, as well as private placements involving institutional investors. Clare Gregory  has been pivotal to the broadening of the office’s skill set beyond pure finance work and continues to handle a significant flow of transactional real estate matters (including development issues) for housing associations.

Practice head(s):

Vicky Kells 

Testimonials

‘The very experienced and professional team is knowledgeable and accessible.’

‘Problem solving, seeing issues from our perspective, getting the best result for us not just now but also for the future.’

Key clients

Cardiff Community Housing Association

RHA Wales Group

United Welsh Housing Association

Cadwyn Housing Association

Melin Homes

Orbit Group

Valleys to Coast Housing

First Choice Housing Association

Abbeyfield Wales Society

Taff Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Orbit Group on the £16m transfer of a nationwide shared ownership portfolio (191 homes) to a for-profit registered provider (ReSI Housing).
  • Advised new client Valleys to Coast Housing on its £35m social bond issued by bLEND Funding plc.
  • Advised Melin Homes on the property due diligence for its £150m funding package with Macquarie Asset Management.

Geldards LLP

Led by commercial property partner Susanne Bradley and drawing upon the expertise of lawyers across various other practice areas, Geldards LLP‘s multi-disciplinary team provides ‘a cohesive’ offering to a sizeable roster of Wales-based housing associations. A ‘tough and highly ethical negotiator’, Harriet Morgan  is a particularly key member of the team in light of her ability to leverage her broader charities law advice, ensuring that she is well-placed to advise on governance matters and charity specific legislation, including in the context of property development advice.

Practice head(s):

Susanne Bradley

Testimonials

‘Geldards is able to seamlessly move between our commercial drivers and understanding associated challenges within the context of our social brief.’

They are strong at bringing together the varied legal strands (through use of their different technical teams) into a cohesive and relevant narrative to assist us in codifying and communicating complexity to our varied stakeholders.’

‘Harriet Morgan is our central point of leadership and co-ordination for the relationship. She epitomises the balance between protecting our interests, those of our beneficiaries and the requirements of strict application of regulation and associated legislation. She is a tough and highly ethical negotiator.’

Key clients

United Welsh

Westmoreland Housing Association

Adra

The Pobl Group

Newydd Housing Association (1974) Limited

Chrysalis Supported Association Limited

The Curo Group

Coastal Housing Group

Wales and West Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Advised Chrysalis Supported Association Limited on multiple supported living housing projects including developers, REIT investment funds and nomination agreements with a County Council.
  • Acting for Newydd Housing Association (1974) Limited in connection with the conditional acquisition of a brown-field development site for development as residential flats.
  • Acting for Newydd in connection with a multimillion-pound refinancing exercise.

Capital Law Limited

Now headed by construction lawyer Stuart Pearson following the departure of Liz Gibbons to Acuity Law in November 2021, Capital Law Limited's multi-disciplinary team provides a cohesive and well-integrated offering to a growing number of Wales based housing associations. Employment law-related advice remains a strong driver of the practice, an area that senior associate David Sheppard  is particular adept, both in terms of fee-earning work as well as training/seminars on hot-button issues, including on vaccination policies.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Pearson

Other key lawyers:

David Sheppard 

Key clients

Pobl Group

Newport City Homes

Valleys to Coast Housing Limited

Adra (Tai) Cyfyngedig

Bron Afon Community Housing

Trivallis Limited

Newydd Housing Association Limited

Cadwyn Housing Association

Southern Housing Group

Sero Life

Cartrefi Conway Cyfyngedig

Hendre Limited

Welsh Government

Work highlights

  • Advised on a major collaboration of 68 RSL and other public, private and third sector organisation partners, managed by Sero, to deliver a pioneering programme, that will decarbonise more than 1,370 Pathfinder homes.
  • Advised Newydd on all disrepair claims they receive from tenants across their portfolio.
  • Advised Pobl on a multimillion-pound housing development of the former County Hall in Cwmbran.  

Morgan LaRoche

Drawing upon lawyers from the real estate, litigation and employment, Morgan LaRoche's multi-disciplinary team displays 'excellent knowledge' across a range of matters affecting Wales-based housing associations and is praised for its 'very thorough approach'. Welsh speaking real estate lawyer Ann Thomas is the main point of contact and provides 'calm and professional' advice to clients across a range of property work, including on secured lending, development and commercial letting.

Testimonials

They have excellent knowledge and a very thorough approach to our legal work. For us, the key is consistency – not just doing it well once, but time after time.’

Ann Thomas is first class as the pressure grows, and deadlines loom. She remains calm and professional but does what is required, when it is required.’ 

Work highlights