19th June 2019
Principle appoints further property assistant to expanding customer services department
Principle appoints further property assistant to expanding customer services department
Principle Estate Management has recruited a new property assistant for its customer services department as the business continues to grow after 12 months of operations.
Brett Williams launched Principle in Birmingham last year to provide a nationwide property management service and was quickly joined by directors Ian Smallman and Joe Jobson, with the business recruiting a total of 12 people in its first year. 
One of these recruits was Michelle Cox who joined as customer services manager earlier this year, and after winning numerous new contracts Principle has now taken on Daniel Lannon.
Mr Lannon, from Cofton Hackett, had previously been working in the retail sector after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a 2:1 honours degree in 2015.
Ms Cox said: “We advertised locally for this role and had a number of applications, but Daniel stood out.
“It’s fantastic background to have retail experience for what is a customer service role here at Principle, plus Daniel’s good IT skills also made him the ideal candidate.”
Ian Smallman, director at Principle, added: “Principle has grown so rapidly that recruitment is now an ongoing item on our monthly agenda.
“We’re confident that Daniel is going to play his part in ensuring we continue to provide the outstanding customer service that we have become really well known for.”
Mr Lannon said: “I had been looking for a new challenge when this role came to my attention.
“It sounded exciting and something where I can use the soft skills I have learnt in retail and develop into a career as I learn about property maintenance and management.”
18th June 2019
Primas Law urges UK property developers to seek advice about potential stamp duty rebates.
Primas Law urges UK property developers to seek advice about potential stamp duty rebates.

Primas Law is already acting on behalf of a growing number of developers and landlords with potential grounds for recovery on wrongly paid stamp duty land tax.

 Primas Law is calling on UK property developers and landlords to seek advice about potential stamp duty rebates on ‘uninhabitable’ second properties after a landmark tribunal case.

A recent ground-breaking case, between P N Bewley Ltd and HMRC, held that properties that are not immediately habitable at the time of completion do not constitute as a “dwelling” for the purpose of the Finance Act 2003.

According to Primas Law, this finding could have major implications for the UK housing market, as the decision meant that P N Bewley was not liable to pay the additional three per cent stamp duty surcharge applicable to second properties.

It could mean that those who have paid stamp duty on similar uninhabitable properties – including potentially thousands of UK landlords and developers – may have paid an inappropriate level of tax and could seek to reclaim them.

As a result of the outcome of this case, Primas Law is being instructed to act for a large and growing number of landlords and developers seeking to recover stamp duty paid for properties that, potentially, should not have attracted the additional tax.

Daniel Thomas, Head of Litigation at Primas Law, said: “To provide more context to this particular case, the property that P N Bewley purchased was a bungalow and a plot of land in Western-super-Mare.

“The company’s intention was to demolish the bungalow and build a new dwelling on the land with planning permission already being granted. The bungalow was essentially a derelict building that had been unoccupied for around three years. 

“The tribunal was provided with photographs of the derelict building and these demonstrated the heating system, radiators, floorboards and pipework had been removed, and that the property – both internally and externally – was in a very poor condition.

“It was also provided with reports from surveyors that concluded asbestos was present in the property and urgently needed removing.”

On presentation of P N Bewley’s evidence, the tribunal concluded there was no doubt a passing tramp or group of squatters could have lived in the bungalow… we have no hesitation that, in this case, the bungalow was not suitable for use as a dwelling.” 

As a result of this, P N Bewley was not required to pay the SDLT surcharge in this instance.

“This case highlights the importance of developers, estate agents and conveyancers fully understanding the condition of a property, and what potential benefits this offers to a purchaser,” Daniel added.

“It also highlights that developers and landlords who have potentially paid an inappropriate level of tax may be able seek to reclaim the same, if similar circumstances permit. 

“It’s a real landmark case for UK property developers and landlords and adds an interesting new dynamic to the debate. We’re currently acting on behalf of a number of property developers and landlords to help them better understand the risks and opportunities, and we think many more will also be looking into these findings in much more detail. For some, it could be significant.”

Primas Law, which has offices in Cheshire, Manchester and London, is leading the campaign to raise awareness of the potential opportunities.

If landlords or property developers are interested in finding out whether they may be entitled to a rebate due to the uninhabitable nature of a second property, or they’d like to find out what this means to their property portfolio, then please they can contact the Primas Law team on 01928 248 672 or email

Primas Law is a boutique law firm with offices in Manchester, Cheshire and London. It specialises in corporate, commercial; employment and property law and it is focused on “quality as the priority” for hundreds of clients based across the UK. For more information about the company visit

13th June 2019
Leasehold Block Management White Paper reveals 500m impact on UK economy
Leasehold Block Management White Paper reveals 500m impact on UK economy

ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) has produced a White Paper Report: An Overview of the Residential Block Property Management Sector in England and Wales which reveals that the sector contributes £500m to the UK economy. 

The Report provides a comprehensive overview of the sector, including key statistics such as: market size and tenure, service charges, managing agent industry breakdown, profitably, contribution to UK economy, etc. In a time of unprecedented change in the sector and increased focus on the leaseholders’ voice, it also outlines ARMA’s position on the regulation of managing agents and leasehold reform.

ARMA’s CEO, Dr Nigel Glen, said: “Really, we’ve compiled the Report as a valuable reference tool to help interested parties - either those working directly in the sector or those involved in research - find out more and demystify the sector. The Report contains a rich vein of data, some of which was already available - just not all in the same place - and some from ARMA research and sources further afield”.

12th June 2019
Heather Payne joins FirstPort as Chief Technology Officer
Heather Payne joins FirstPort as Chief Technology Officer

Residential property management company FirstPort has appointed Heather Payne as Chief Technology Officer. She will be responsible for FirstPort’s digital transformation programme.

Nigel Howell, Chief Executive, FirstPort, said: “Unlocking the business’s digital capabilities across mobile and online applications is key to our future success. We’re very pleased Heather will join our Executive leadership team, adding her expertise in customer experience to the residential property management sector.”

Commenting on her appointment Heather Payne said: “In my first few weeks with FirstPort I have had the pleasure of working with a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and future focused team. I am excited to make Nigel's ambitious strategy a reality by helping the business to grow, through improvements in ways of working enabled through technology”.

Heather has spent her whole career successfully delivering digital transformation across multiple sectors. She was previously Chief Technology Officer at Avon Cosmetics responsible for technical delivery, innovation, information security and enterprise architecture, including unlocking the business’s digital and e-commerce capabilities across mobile and online applications. 

Prior to Avon, Heather held roles as CTO of Engineering at DMG Media, and Group Head of Software Development and Head of IT  at Thomas Cook Group and Hotels 4U. 

4th June 2019
Bishop & Sewell Legal Research Award Winner Announced
Bishop & Sewell Legal Research Award Winner Announced

Winner, Marianne Johnson (centre) with runners-up Alex Braune (left) and Matthew Manso de Zuniga (right).

The inaugural Bishop & Sewell Legal Research Awards, held in partnership with City Law School, took place on 28th May at the firm's Russell Square offices. Open to all LPC students at City Law School, contestants were invited to submit a legal research memorandum answering questions based on a well-known copyright case and then 5 finalists went before a panel of judges to present their findings. The finalists were also given the opportunity to talk informally to staff about a career in Law.

The judges were very impressed with the high calibre of the finalists and were unanimous in awarding first place to Marianne Johnson who won a cash prize and a week's work experience at the Bishop & Sewell. Runners up were Matthew Manso de Zuniga and Alex Braune.

Marianne Johnson, Winner of the Legal Research Award, said:

“The competition was a chance to test the Legal Research and Writing skills I have learnt on the LPC regarding a fun fact pattern but challenging area of law. Having to think practically about the client's objectives forced me to go further in my research by including commercial as well as legal considerations. Having presented the research, I now feel more confident proposing my findings, and have gained valuable insight into the type of research tasks I will have to deal with in practice.“

Michael Gillman, Partner at Bishop & Sewell, commented:

“While access to information in the digital age has been made much easier, legal research remains an important skill which any aspiring lawyer needs to master. We are delighted to be working with City Law School to not only help students apply the skills they are learning but to also give them the chance to connect with our colleagues and become more informed about following a career in Law.”

James Catchpole, Director of the Legal Practice Course at City Law School, added:

"The City Law School heartily congratulates Marianne Johnson on being the recipient of the inaugural Bishop & Sewell Legal Research Award. As one of the UK's premier institutions of legal education, City Law School is delighted to be partnering with Bishop & Sewell to refine the vital research skills of legal professionals in anticipation of the new Solicitor's Qualification Examination (SQE)."

30th May 2019
The launch of Flat, a unique, specialist estate agency
The launch of Flat, a unique, specialist estate agency

Every great idea stems from identifying a problem and that is where the concept for Flat was formed, a newly launched estate agency with specialist knowledge and expertise focussed on  leasehold property. 

Colin Horton, CEO and Founder said ‘We decided to only sell Flats, nothing else.   We are Award Winning Leasehold Surveyors and what better pitch than purely specialising in Flats and being experts in Leasehold Valuation.  We are not just a typical pin stripe wearing estate agent who is only focused on that glitzy £million+ detached property. We simply sell Flats because selling Flats isn’t simple and we do it beautifully.’

Gulsun Shevket, Head of Sales continued ‘Transparency for too long has been a word disassociated with Estate Agents and we want to change that, advising sellers before they sell of any issues in their lease such as onerous ground rents or restrictive covenants which may force a sale to fall out of bed at the last minute and in turn cost the vendor thousands. We call our expert opinion and advice the aptly named Leasehold MOT which is unique to Flat, you wouldn’t want to sell a car without an MOT why should a Flat be any different.’

Based on their own experiences of buying and selling flats everything has been designed from the customer perspective, and this new company have bold plans with future offices in Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.   The team have a firm belief that they will become the go to brand for selling flats.

Find out more at

29th May 2019
Cihan Gokensel joins FirstPort as Regional Manager for Large & Complex Developments
Cihan Gokensel joins FirstPort as Regional Manager for Large & Complex Developments

Based within property management company FirstPort’s eastern region, Cihan will be leading a team of Development and Property Managers from Essex to Greater London.

She joins the UK’s largest residential property manager from Hallmark Hotels, where she was Hotels General Manager in Essex for three years. Prior to this she was a multi-site manager for Premier Inn, for nine years.

Nygel Scourfield, Managing Director of Property Services for FirstPort said: “In Cihan’s previous roles delivering first class customer service by maintaining high standards with the utmost care and attention is something we are keen she helps us to continue at FirstPort. I am looking forward to seeing the fresh perspective she brings with her.”

 Cihan Gokensel, Regional Manager, FirstPort concludes: “Within hotels your guests leave the hotel and perhaps you may never meet them again. Within property management, your customers are residents who stay at the development and you see them much more often. I’m looking forward to that change.”

FirstPort has four decades of experience as a full service residential property manager, employing over 3,000 people. Working on behalf of developers, investors, freeholders and over 200 Resident Management Companies it manages 196,000 homes across the UK.

28th May 2019
FUTURE PropTech Comes of Age
FUTURE PropTech Comes of Age

The world’s number one property technology event, FUTURE PropTech London closed its doors following the fifth rendition of the show with plenty to celebrate. The show, which brings together all facets of the property industry to network, collaborate, debate, and educate, has grown year on year to this year’s over 1800 people through the doors. 

FUTURE PropTech proudly included a 50/50 female/male speaker split with delegates from over 120 countries the world over. Popular speakers on the day included; Ellie Finegold, Venture Advisor, MetaProp Hongqi Guo, Founding Partner, Yitong Design, Robert Courteau, CEO Altus, Partick Ghallni, CEO, MRI Software, Emma Hendry, CEO, Hendry Group and Joyeta Das, CEO, Gyana to name a few. 

With stages hosted by PlaceTech’s Paul Unger, EG’s Emily Wright, Charlie Wright from BestAgent and The Depositary’s Kristjan Byfield, showing off talent from across the property industry and round table discussions and meeting pods supplied by Nook, conversation was flowing. The discussion did not stop for breath as the event was followed up by the FUTURE PropTech and UK PropTech Association (UKPA) re-launch after party.

Gary Chimwa, FUTURE PropTech’s founder stated that, “This years FUTURE PropTech was our biggest and best one to date. With nearly 2,000 delegates from over 50 countries and 600 companies, it’s another milestone in our growth and also signifies the continued rapid growth of the sector. The big wins were seeing so many startups, international delegates & real estate companies being able to meet with potential clients, partners & investors that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to meet. This is the true value that our platform can deliver.

As well as all that attended, our media partners and various exhibitors and sponsors, I would like to thank our headline sponsors CBRE, PwC, Knotel and Tili by Spark Energy, without whom none of this could have happened.” 

The UK’s favourite PropTech conference’s guests had plenty to celebrate with the show being the stage for:

  • The relaunch of the UK PropTech Association (UKPA), offering memberships for property and PropTech companies, tech investors and professional service providers. Visit their website for more information -

  • The launch of Student Stay’s latest go-to property, home and related lifestyle services brand for students and young adults, LetsGo Group  

Hinting at FUTURE PropTech 2020, Chimwa adds that, “FUTURE PropTech will be expanding to become a 2 day show. A big announcement will be made soon to reveal the new content & format for FPT 2020.”

For more information, go to

27th May 2019
Celebrities Honour Young Homeless People at Centrepoint Awards
Celebrities Honour Young Homeless People at Centrepoint Awards

Celebrities united to celebrate the achievements of homeless young people at The Centrepoint Awards at The Century Club in London on Tuesday 14th May. Now in its fourth year, The Centrepoint Awards is supported by The Co-operative Bank, Selfridges and FirstPort.

The ceremony will recognised the achievements of six young people who have been helped by the charity and its partners across the UK. Centrepoint provides homeless 16 - 25-year olds with support to find work and tackle physical and mental health problems, in addition to providing a safe place to stay.

Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas, singer Tallia Storm and comedian Hussain Manawer will attend the Awards. Other celebrity guests include Downton Abbey stars Matt Barber and Daisy Lewis, TV chef Ching He Huang, and hairdresser Errol Douglas MBE. 

The winners – recognised for their success in areas such as Education, Personal Development and Life Transformation - were selected by a panel of the charity’s staff members. The individual awards are supported by organisations including The Co-operative Bank, FirstPort and Selfridges.

Mandy Ferries, Director of HR at FirstPort said: “George Marving Yombi, the young person who won the Career Progression Award FirstPort sponsored deserves to be recognised for the impact he has made beyond his own situation, by giving a voice to homeless young people all across the country. 

Such has his confidence grown, he chaired an event in Parliament highlighting issues faced by care leavers, where he spoke about his own experiences to over 60 MPs, council and charity sector professionals.”

Centrepoint, which has been supported by HRH The Duke of Cambridge as Patron since 2005, supports over 10,000 homeless young people every year with direct services in London, Manchester, Sunderland and Yorkshire, and through partner charities across the UK.

Seyi Obakin, CEO of Centrepoint said, “We are extremely proud of the achievements of all the young people nominated for this year’s Centrepoint Awards. They have shown great strength of character to overcome the obstacles in their paths, despite their different experiences of homelessness. As the rate of youth homelessness continue to climb, it’s crucial that we help even more young people tap into the resources they need early on to feel safe and transform their lives for the better.”

3rd May 2019
New CEO Appointed at Brethertons
New CEO Appointed at Brethertons

Brethertons LLP has announced the appointment of its Director of Legal Services Alison McCormack to the position of CEO effective from the 11th April, succeeding Shaun Jardine.

McCormack joined Brethertons ten years ago in 2009. Before joining Brethertons, McCormack spent nearly 14 years at DHL International (UK) Ltd in senior leadership roles at national level, including New Business Development Manager and Customer Care Manager. During her tenure at DHL, McCormack was instrumental in strengthening and supporting the UK strategy for the business.

Since joining Brethertons, McCormack has held Head of Department roles in the Property Management Division and more recently has been Director of Legal Services for the Property and Dispute Resolution teams which account for £5.8 Million of the Firms turnover. She was made a partner in 2014 and equity partner in 2016 and for the last four years McCormack has had a position on the Executive Board.

Shaun Jardine who has served as Brethertons CEO for the past four years, will remain with the Firm as Commercial Director. He has been actively involved in many of the decisions that have been fundamental to Brethertons structural reorganisation. Jardine will continue to provide support to the Employment and Commercial teams and remain focused on strategy and commercial development for the whole firm, in addition to continuing to serve on the Executive Board.

Jardine commented “It has been a tremendous honour to serve as the CEO of Brethertons since 2014 and I’m incredibly proud of everything our team has accomplished. Alison’s years of experience within Brethertons coupled with her extensive customer service expertise at DHL, is an impressive customer focussed record which makes her ideally suited for the Brethertons CEO position. My partners and I are extremely pleased that she will be leading the Company as it moves to expand its capabilities and deliver on its ambitious growth plans. I am confident that Alison’s knowledge and experience will add great value to our customers and benefit all Brethertonians.”

McCormack commented “I am incredibly excited to assume the role of CEO at such a true inflection point in Brethertons 210 year history. I’ve enjoyed the years I have spent at the firm and was delighted to be invited to join the equity in 2016. I look forward to continuing to deliver first class legal services, identifying future growth opportunities, and at the same time innovate our services in new and diverse ways.”


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