Our specialist team of lawyers led by partners Phillip Hope, Elizabeth Ruff and Nish Kapoor have expertise across all the major real estate sectors, particularly retail, office and restaurant.
We represent corporate occupiers from multinational corporations and property companies to family businesses and individual entrepreneurs and investors. We also advise overseas law firms and other businesses establishing a presence in the UK and in the City of London in particular. Where appropriate, we work with our corporate, tax and sector focused practices.
By using our in-depth knowledge of changing market conditions and our technical expertise we are dedicated to providing a practical and commercial approach to a wide range of property matters.
Acted on behalf of Accor S.A in connection with the acquisition of premises in London for a new hotel concept.
Acted on behalf of Park Tower Hotel Knightsbridge in connection with ongoing management, development and leasing matters.
Acted in a significant relocation from short term accommodation in Tower 42, London, to a long term let in the newly developed Angel Court enabling our client to continue to grow and expand.
Acted for Bleeding Heart Restaurants in relation to its property portfolio.
Acted for borrower client on a £70m portfolio refinancing to a European Bank.
Acted on behalf of St Vibes Limited, the proprietor of the Clove Club, the Michelin Star restaurant based in Shoreditch, in connection with general legal advice and acquisition of new premises.
Advised an overseas individual on de-enveloping two high value properties, during which we had to liaise with overseas counsel in several jurisdictions.
Advised a landlord client in relation to the re-structure of occupation of Central London retail premises in connection with the administration of the tenant – providing strategic advice in relation to the landlord’s legal position, including insolvency considerations and the legislation concerning the involvement of parent company guarantees.
Advised a landlord client in relation to the grant of a new flexible lease of West End retail space at a rental level reflective of the current retail property market. This assisted the client with long term commercial strategy for its retail properties in the area and mitigated its rates liability.
Advised on the operating services, licence and royalty, and technical services agreements in respect of a new St. Regis hotel in southern Europe.
Can you terminate a commercial lease before the end of the term?
Whether you can bring your lease to an end before the term expires will depend on what your lease says. Many commercial leases have a ‘break clause’ which will allow either the tenant or the landlord to terminate the lease early on certain conditions.
Break clauses have been scrutinised by landlords, tenants, lawyers and judges for many years. To make sure that you do not inadvertently lose your right to end the lease early, it is important to be well advised when negotiating such a clause, and particularly when serving your break notice. Our real estate team has a wealth of experience in this area and is well versed in acting for both landlords and tenants in the negotiation of lease terms, and in the preparation and service of break notices.
If you don’t have a break clause in your lease, you might be able to reach an agreement with your landlord (or tenant as the case may be) to surrender the lease. A landlord may also be able to forfeit the lease if their tenant is in breach of their obligations. Please get in touch with a member of our team if you would like to discuss the options that might be available to you.
What is a "schedule of dilapidations" under a commercial lease?
A schedule of dilapidations is a detailed list of items that the landlord believes require repair, reinstatement or redecoration in accordance with the tenant’s obligations in their commercial lease.
It is generally prepared by landlords (or their surveyors) at the end of the term of the lease. The schedule will usually be served by the landlord on the tenant once they have vacated the premises. As such, instead of requiring the tenant to carry out the works, the landlord will usually require that the tenant pays the costs of the works to them.
A tenant may contest the landlord’s schedule and it can therefore quite quickly turn into a dispute. We regularly advise both landlords and tenants to help ensure that the parties are aware of their rights and obligations before matters become contentious. If, however, you do become involved in a dilapidations dispute, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, our experienced team will guide you through the process and will work closely with your surveyor to deliver practical, commercially driven advice throughout.
Do you advise on commercial tenant non-payment of rent?
Landlord and tenant work is one of the cornerstones of our practice and it is a fact of life that disputes can and do arise. We are perfectly placed to assist our landlord and tenant clients with all aspects of disputes concerning rent recovery. Because we are frequently instructed by landlords and tenants, we are able to understand the perspectives not just of our clients but also of our opponents, which means we are quick to understand and deal with any points raised against us in a dispute. We can advise on and execute the full range of landlord’s remedies for default, including court proceedings, forfeiture, Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR) and possible avenues concerning insolvency.
We always approach a dispute commercially and pragmatically in seeking the best course for our clients based on the facts of every individual dispute. We do not litigate where to do so would not be in our client’s interests, yet we can do so decisively and aggressively if the situation demands it.
Do you advise on the Telecommunications Code?
Yes. The Electronic Communications Code is a complicated and oft-criticised piece of legislation and this has been compounded in recent years by the introduction of a completely new iteration of it in 2017. We advise landlords on resisting Code applications by (often very aggressive) telecoms operators for access to our clients’ property to install equipment, termination of Code Agreements and site clearance. We negotiate the best possible deal for our clients where access cannot be prevented and the terms of an agreement need to be negotiated.
Do you advise on leases of commercial premises?
Yes. We act for landlords and tenants across the board – from institutional landlords to start up tenants, we can advise you on the terms of your lease. We advise clients from the Heads of Terms stage, reviewing and negotiating the terms of your lease and carrying out due diligence on the property (if required) to actually completing your lease and dealing with post completion matters such as stamp duty land tax and Land Registry requirements. We can also advise on standalone enquiries – such as break clauses and/or yield up provisions at the end of your term.
Do you advise on Hotel Management Agreements?
Yes, we act on behalf of a number of hotel owners and advise upon Management Agreements with operators, development, branded residences, food and beverage (F&B) and finance. The work we undertake involves both UK hotels and international hotels. We advise clients in respect of hotel acquisition, disposals and refinancing. We also advise hotel owners on ownership and leasing structures.
Do you advise in relation to commercial rent reviews?
Yes, and we strongly recommend that expert legal advice is taken at all stages of a commercial rent review process (including on commercial agreement and drafting of terms) often in conjunction with the expertise of a specialist surveyor. Traditionally, an open market rent review, usually on an ‘upwards only’ review basis, has been provided for in commercial leases and we are experienced in negotiating technical terms of the associated lease clauses for both landlords and tenants.
There are other options, however, and rent levels could instead for example be linked to the changes in the retail prices index. There is also an increasing trend towards ‘turnover rent’ leases whereby the rent is calculated by reference to the gross turnover of the tenant at the premises, with complex legal drafting requirements. A rent review may be determined by an expert or arbitrator in the event that the parties cannot reach agreement between themselves, and we also guide clients through these processes.
Do you provide advice on property development?
Yes, we advise on property development. The Fox Williams Real Estate team has extensive experience acting for landowners, investors and developers on the acquisition and redevelopment of property for development purposes. We can advise on all elements of the transaction, including acquisition of the development sites, negotiation of development agreements and construction documentation. We help ensure that our clients obtain good value for money and we give careful consideration to whether the property is suitable for any proposed development.
Do you advise on commercial real estate finance?
Yes, our specialist real estate finance team has significant expertise and regularly acts for lenders and borrowers on a wide range of real estate finance transactions for UK and overseas clients. We are very experienced in handling the full spectrum of real estate finance transactions from portfolio, development and acquisition finance and refinance to bilateral and syndicated loan facilities. We also work closely with colleagues in our corporate and tax teams to offer you comprehensive advice on the implications of property finance transactions. We adopt a commercially focused and proactive approach, taking the time at the outset to fully understand the client’s objectives, transaction structure and crucially, timescales for drawdown of funds and closing of the transaction. We will move quickly to resolve any issues in a timely, cost-effective manner, keeping you informed at every stage.
I want to purchase a property in London as an investment. Can you help?
Yes, we can help you with property investment in London. London continues to be a sought-after location for property investors both for international and domestic investors. We work with corporate investment vehicles, property investment arms and private individuals who are looking to invest in commercial and in some cases high end residential property. We help ensure that our clients obtain good value for money and a commercial investment that meets their objectives on appropriate terms. Once the investment has been made we stay alongside our clients to advise on other ongoing issues that arise for commercial investors, which could include building management contracts, tenancy agreements, rent reviews and refinancing.
How do I renew my commercial lease / should I have a commercial lease exit strategy?
The steps to renew a commercial lease will largely depend on whether the lease is within the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 (the “1954 Act”) (and therefore the tenant has security of tenure – i.e. a statutory right to renew its lease) or whether it has been contracted out of the 1954 Act, meaning the tenant does not have a statutory right to renew its lease.
Leases within the 1954 Act
If a lease is within the 1954 Act the tenant has a statutory right to renew its lease at the end of the contractual term. A tenancy will not therefore automatically terminate at the end of the contractual term. There are different procedures for renewal, depending on whether the landlord or the tenant initiates the renewal. The landlord can initiate renewal by serving what is known as a section 25 notice on the tenant. The tenant can initiate renewal by serving what is known as a section 26 request on the landlord. It is imperative that this notice is valid and is validly served on the competent party.
Leases renewals within the 1954 Act have strict statutory time frames that must be adhered to – to miss a statutory deadline could mean a tenant loses its statutory right to renew its lease or a landlord could lose its ability to oppose a section 26 request. It is therefore imperative that contractual end dates are diarised, and solicitors instructed well before the contractual end date.
Leases contracted out of the 1954 Act
Leases outside the 1954 Act will automatically terminate on the contractual end date, unless both landlord and tenant agree to renew the lease. It is completely at the other party’s discretion whether it accepts a renewal lease and/or the terms on which the lease is renewed. There is no statutory procedure to follow – it is all down to negotiations between the parties.
As with leases within the 1954 Act, termination dates should be diarised, and discussions held well before the contractual end date if either party wishes to renew the lease. If a tenant continues to occupy the property post termination, from a landlord’s perspective it is vital that the basis of their occupation is formally documented.
Legal 500 2023
Legal 500 2023
Legal 500 2023