News

23rd April 2018
Bishop and Sewell refresh their brand and website
Bishop and Sewell refresh their brand and website

Bishop & Sewell, a leading full service Central London law firm, launched a refreshed brand identity and new user-friendly website this week as part of a wider strategy to raise the firm’s profile within its core Central London market as well as nationally, following its recent merger with Fisher Meredith.

Bishop & Sewell was established in 1979 and has made several small acquisitions before its merger with Fisher Meredith in Summer 2017. Prior to the merger, the Partners at Bishop & Sewell had already agreed that a more modern visual identity was essential to accurately reflect where the firm is today and to showcase “who we are” and “how we can help meet our client’s needs”.

The firm’s new distinctive visual identity, tone of voice and messaging has been designed to reflect the straightforward legal advice that clients experience when dealing with Bishop & Sewell and was created by Chaos Design, a leading Top 50 creative agency. The new website, inspired by Chaos’ creative brand strategy, was completely redesigned and built by Tela, a leading digital agency highlighting the firm’s solicitors, key practice areas along with clear navigation and mobile friendly form submissions throughout the website. Visit www.bishopandsewell.co.uk.

Nick Potter, Partner of Bishop & Sewell commented:
“Bishop & Sewell is well known for the quality of its legal advice and whilst there are no significant changes in how we operate, and how the firm interacts with clients, we felt that our visual identity wasn’t truly reflecting us as a firm, and that needed to change. Our refreshed brand and website reflects the straightforward legal advice which we are able to deliver to meet our client’s needs.”

Bishop & Sewell has over 50 fee earners (of which 19 are Partners) covering Residential & Commercial Property, Corporate & Commercial, Private Client, Family, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Immigration and Employment, with an international reach via membership of Pragma, a leading network of lawyers and consulting firms.

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28th March 2018
SDL Property Partners has a sterling start to 2018
SDL Property Partners has a sterling start to 2018

The industry’s first property management franchise scheme, SDL Property Partners has had a strong start to the year by signing up two new franchisees and hosting potential property partners at SDL Property: 2018.

Joining the “property revolution” by becoming a franchisee for the Croydon area is Sam Kamara, who has 14 years’ worth of experience within the property industry.

Speaking about why he decided to join the SDL Property Partners, Sam said: “I am excited about what this unique opportunity has to offer and to have the chance to work in a niche area which is currently undergoing significant regeneration.”

“I hope to make a meaningful contribution to the local area and to enhance the property management service in Croydon.”

Fellow new franchisee Suleman Ghauri, who works with SDL as a surveyor, has built a strong rapport with the company and saw the opportunity to bring this franchise model to West London. He hopes to improve local customer service of the property industry while developing his already extensive knowledge.

As well as signing up two new franchisees, SDL Property Partners was one of the four core SDL Group brands present at the at the Group’s annual conference - SDL Property: 2018. Property Partners held its own plenary sessions for delegates who specialise in property management thinking about becoming their own boss and making the transition into becoming a franchisee.

Hosted by SDL Property Partners’ managing director, Nick Faulkner, discussion topics ranged from, “the future of property management” to “property management and the law”, led by a selection of industry experts including, ARMA’s Nigel Glen, Qube’s John Thumwood and Tanfield Chambers’ Phillip Rainey QC.

Talking about Property Partners recent success, Nick said: “The conference was a great success and we were really pleased to be a part of this event. It was a perfect opportunity to showcase Property Partners to a room full of industry experts and to network with existing SDL Group business partners, like Suleman. We welcome Sam and Suleman to our property revolution.”

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20th February 2018
Fixflo Appoints Michael Murphy MBE as Non-Executive Chairman
Fixflo Appoints Michael Murphy MBE as Non-Executive Chairman

PropTech company Fixflo (www.fixflo.com) which provides repairs and maintenance software used in hundreds of thousands of properties, has announced the appointment of Michael Murphy MBE as non-executive Chairman and the formation of a heavyweight Advisory Board.

Michael is a widely respected business leader who has an extensive operational track record in high-growth and digital subscription businesses such as the Financial Times, Quidco and Friends Reunited, and in providing support for such businesses at board level with previous roles at companies including Instant Offices, Datamonitor and Multimap.

Fixflo has also announced a formal Advisory Board comprising John Davis (former CFO of Yell Group plc and Pearson Inc), Mike Wroe (former CFO of Just-Eat), Tim Ward (former marketing director of the Financial Times) and serial entrepreneur Steve Pankhurst who co-founded Friends Reunited.

Michael Murphy said: “Fixflo is a hugely exciting business which is already adding value to thousands of businesses around the world and I’m looking forward supporting the team on their growth journey.”

Rajeev Nayyar, Managing Director of Fixflo commented on today’s announcement:

“We’re absolutely delighted that Michael has agreed to lead our board and that John, Mike, Tim and Steve are to become formal advisors to Fixflo. We’ve been leaning on advice from Michael and others on an informal basis over the past months, in some cases, years. At this stage of the company’s maturity, it made sense to formalise arrangements and assist us in the next phase of our growth.

“2017 was a record-breaking year for Fixflo in terms of the number of people we helped with property repairs and maintenance management, and we had the one millionth repair managed through our systems in the UK. We also meaningfully expanded beyond the residential property sector that Fixflo is best known for, into providing maintenance solutions for property companies managing assets including petrol stations, offices and industrial estates in different countries around the world.

“Having delivered 37 system upgrades during the course of 2017 at no additional cost to our clients, through 2018 we remain relentlessly focused on supporting our clients in delivering service excellence.

“To all of our clients who have supported us on this journey thank you and please make sure your teams know how to get the most out of your Fixflo system through our free training program.”

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6th February 2018
The search for the Holy Grail
The search for the Holy Grail

Following Lord Justice Lewinson’s plea that hopefully “The Holy Grail will one day be found” in the recent Court of Appeal case of Mundy v Sloane Stanley (2018), Richard John Clarke Chartered Surveyors have set about trying to find a graph that will hopefully satisfy both Leaseholders and Freeholders alike in the absence of short lease sales evidence.

The original Upper Tribunal Decision found favour with the Gerald Eve Graph (“industry standard”) and both Savills 2002 and Savills 2015. As part of that decision and on several cases after that decision there has generally been a view that relativities have fallen since the graph was formulated:

“One of the concerns that the UT had about the reliability of the Gerald Eve graph was that because the relativities shown by that graph had not changed since the graph was first compiled, it no longer reflected relativities as they were in 2014. Structural changes in interest rates and rates of investment returns, changes in the nature of the market such as an influx of foreign buyers, and changes in the institutional and legal structure of the residential market all suggested that the Gerald Eve graph overstated the relative value of a lease by comparison with the value of a freehold. These concerns were summarised at [28] to [32] of Appendix B to the UT’s decision and reiterated in Appendix C at [64].”

In order to work out how much relativities have fallen, I have considered the Savills 2002 and Savills 2015 Enfranchisable graphs and noted the Lands Tribunal view:

“If market transactions involving leases with rights under the 1993 Act relied exclusively on the relativities shown by the GE graph, then there would be no reason for relativities for leases with rights under the 1993 Act to have changed between 2002 and 2015 (the dates of the two Savills enfranchisable graphs) since the GE graph has not changed over that period. Nonetheless, a comparison of the Savills 2002 graph and the Savills 2015 graphs does suggest that there has been a change in relativities for leases with rights under the 1993 Act. This may be due to either the difference in the methodology of construction of the Savills 2002 and 2015 graphs, or a real change in relativity in the market (my emphasis).

I have produced a table and graph showing the percentage difference between both these graphs:

 

On the assumption that the difference between the 2 graphs is made up of changes in relativity rather than a change in the methodology, I have applied this discount to the “industry standard” which is

1. Prime Central London namely the Gerald Eve Graph:

 

2. Greater London and Rest of England namely the average of the 5 RICS Research Report (2009) Graphs:

This discount amounts to approximately 2% between 80 and 60 years and rises from 2% to 10% between 60 and 30 years. If it is felt that one graph in a particular location is better suited than using the above, then it would be simple to apply this discount to that graph in isolation.

Knight Frank have recently commissioned a major research project in this area, led by James Culley and Professor Andrews, using Hedonic Regression modelling on Real World Evidence for leaseholds of different lengths to find current relativities. It will be interesting to see if it accords with the Savills research. I understand it will be published later this year.

I would be interested to hear your views on whether applying these discounts to the relevant graphs could be a contribution to finding the solution to the search for The Holy Grail?

Please contact Richard at  richard@richardjohnclarke.com or on Twitter @RichardMurphy1 and @RJC_Surveyors.

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2nd February 2018
Colin Horton to leave McDowalls Surveyors
Colin Horton to leave McDowalls Surveyors

McDowalls Surveyors have today announced that Colin Horton will be leaving the firm at the beginning of next month. Chris Baker owner of McDowalls has stated “ Colin has decided to leave McDowalls and setup his own company. Whilst this was not what I had originally planned for my firm but I do understand Colin’s ambition and desire to make this new venture happen. I would like to thank him for his time with my firm and wish him every success in future. The valuation team at McDowalls will now headed by Karen Hawkes who has overall control of the Valuation Department and it’s day to day activity.

 

Chris has also appointed Francis Joyce former Valuation Director at JLL to work with McDowalls in the provision of leasehold and enfranchisement valuations and she will commence work for McDowalls shortly “Francis has a great deal of experience dealing with both freeholders and lessees in the Central London Estates.   I warmly welcome Francis to the firm have no doubt her knowledge, experience and skill will add to the valuation team”

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26th January 2018
New Business Development Manager for ARMA
New Business Development Manager for ARMA

ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) is delighted to announce the appointment of Scott Thrower as Business Development Manager.

Scott brings with him significant experience as a residential property manager with a leading London-based managing agent.  He leads the Association’s business development function in increasing membership, maintaining strong relationships with existing members and creating relationships with potential new ARMA Members and ARMA Partners.  Scott is also responsible for enhancing ARMA’s current professional training programme.

ARMA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nigel Glen, said: “Scott’s appointment highlights ARMA’s change of culture towards a focus on customer service for its current and potential members and partners.  Scott will be at the forefront of our growth plans and for developing new services and benefits for our members.”

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17th December 2017
Major changes predicted in Leasehold sector during 2018
Major changes predicted in Leasehold sector during 2018

ALEP, the professional body for leasehold practitioners, is predicting major changes in the sector during 2018, including the possibility of new legislation, a prohibition on ground rents, amendments to Commonhold and a trend towards open registers on property ownership to increase transparency.

This year has witnessed a step change in the awareness of leasehold issues by the buying public, and Mark Chick, ALEP Director, believes this awareness will only rise further.

"Leasehold issues, especially with new build houses, have really hit the headlines this year and I have no doubt that interest will only intensify further over the next 12 months. The fact that there are currently four live Government consultations on property related issues shows how far issues relating to the leasehold system have risen up the agenda.

"There is every chance that these consultations, especially "Tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market", will lead to legislative changes and possibly a prohibition on ground rents for new leasehold houses.

"I can easily see the introduction of restrictions on the type of ground rent that can be charged, and possibly limits on review periods and over inflationary increases. These changes would have a substantial impact on the sector."

Within the sector there is also growing interest in Commonhold as an alternative form of residential tenure. Despite being on the statute books since 2003, when the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 came into force, Commonhold has now been referred to the Law Commission to see how it can be re-invigorated. ALEP exists to promote best practice in the leasehold sector so, in response to the growing interest in Commonhold, ALEP is organising a Lecture on Commonhold in February for practitioners. The lecture will help attendees to gain an in-depth understanding of the Act and the impact and implications that an uptake in Commonhold could have.

Mark Chick continued: "Commonhold is potentially the red hot issue for 2018. Many believe it holds the answer to address the current issues with leasehold, but it has been relatively unsuccessful to date and will need amendments to the current legislation to encourage take up.

"I also predict an amendment to the status of ground rent that exceeds Housing Act thresholds for forfeiture. Sticking my neck out a little I also predict, in light of the Paradise Papers, the imposition of increasingly open registers in relation to property ownership.

"Whatever happens, the safest prediction for 2018 is that leasehold issues will be in the spotlight and those working in the sector will be following developments with great interest. Whether we see a leasehold reform bill come before parliament will depend a great deal on Brexit, which may well blow all other Government business off the agenda."

For more information on ALEP and the Commonhold Lecture, visit www.alep.org.uk

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17th December 2017
Lack of Flood Cover - A growing threat
Lack of Flood Cover - A growing threat

Over the last few years many insurers have invested significantly in geographic tools that enable them to predict flood exposure more accurate. As this technology evolves insurers are able to predict with increasing accuracy locations likely to flood that may not have flooded before.

The biggest problem is that as this technology evolves more and more insurers are coming to the same conclusions resulting in locations they don’t wish to insure because of the flood exposure. The result is locations where insurers simply don’t wish to offer flood cover unless they are compelled to do such because of a large client connection.

In reality this means more blocks of flats are being offered insurance renewals without flood cover or with an unreasonably high excess for flood. The problem for lessees living in these flats is that lack of flood cover can make it impossible to obtain a mortgage putting many lessees in financial hardship. This even applies to flats on higher floors and not just those on the ground floor.

Together with PM legal services we have developed a solution enabling the leases on eligible blocks to be simply amended to enable owner occupied flats to be ceded into the government backed Flood Re scheme. This makes insurance cover including flood both available and affordable for a large number of blocks.

Last month we were delighted to announce the launch at the ARMA conference and also delighted to see PM Legal Services and Cassandra Zanelli awarded for their involvement in this project at the PMA’s. You may be wondering if this solution is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and possibly that may be a fair question. However we are able to make flood cover available and affordable in many blocks of four or more flats that are otherwise unable to obtain appropriate cover.

With the threat of flooding increasing and insurers gaining a better understanding of where this will occur this is not a problem that is going away. After working on bringing a solution to market for three years I am delighted that finally we have a workable insurance product for many affected blocks.

Paul Robertson MD – 1st Sure Flats and Midway Insurance

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7th December 2017
Louie Burns calls on the Queen to end our feudal leasehold system
Louie Burns calls on the Queen to end our feudal leasehold system

Louie Burns, Managing Director of Leasehold Solutions, has called on the Queen to end her support for the UK's feudal leasehold system, by changing the land tenure for The Crown Estate's vast leasehold property portfolio.

As one of the UK's largest property managers, The Crown Estate's £12 billion property portfolio includes thousands of leasehold homes for which it owns the freehold.

Louie Burns said: "Leasehold properties have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in income for the Crown Estate – and the Queen personally – including through ground rents and the huge charges paid by leaseholders to extend their leases.

"Although there have been lots of encouraging statements from the Government about ending unfair practices in the leasehold system, The Crown Estate's ownership of residential leasehold properties adds a veneer of respectability to our unjust and feudal leasehold system. Their refusal to let go of this leasehold cash cow validates the commitment of other freeholders to retain their ground rent portfolios too.

"Furthermore, even if the Government does follow through on its commitment to reform leasehold legislation, The Crown Estate is protected by a legal caveat that omits its ground rents from being affected by changes to the law.

"How can leasehold ever be abolished or reformed significantly if the law upholds the aristocracy's long-held belief in their entitlement to own other people's homes and property in perpetuity?"

The Crown was the very first freeholder in Britain; more than 950 years ago William the Conqueror declared that all land was owned by the monarch. Despite centuries of change in law and custom, the underlying ownership of The Crown still exists.

The Crown Estate is owned by the monarch for the duration of their reign. Under the terms of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 the monarch is provided with a stable source of income from the Crown Estate's annual net revenue. The Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, recently agreed to increase the Queen's personal share of the Crown Estate's income to 25% (roughly £76 million a year), with the remaining 75% paid to the Exchequer.
Burns continued: "If the Crown committed to ending residential leasehold as a tenure they invested in, it would send an incredibly powerful message that proved the Government's intentions surrounding leasehold.

"The history of leasehold reform over the last 150 years has been one that repeats itself like a feudal 'ground hog day'. It starts with great public dissatisfaction and anger with the leasehold system, which eventually prompts politicians to take notice and introduce some legislation that tinkers around the edges of the issue, without ever bringing about the changes that are needed – namely the abolition of the leasehold system in the UK.

"It is time to change this depressing pattern of events and abolish this deeply flawed leasehold system for good. The Queen and our Government should show the way, by changing the land tenure on all leasehold properties owned by The Crown Estate and giving the tenants the option to become homeowners."

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6th December 2017
Sam Massey joins SDL Property Partners
Sam Massey joins SDL Property Partners

Sam Massey has joined the SDL Group as launch manager of its brand new property management franchise scheme, SDL Property Partners.  

With over a decade of experience in business development as part of her 20 year career in property, Sam will now play a key role in the property management industry’s first franchise scheme.

After growing up watching both her mother and father work hard as estate agents in North West London, it was no surprise that, at the age of only 16 years old, Sam Massey, along with her two sisters, would follow her parents into the property industry.

After studying a degree in Estate Management at London South Bank University, Sam’s first position in 2003 was as an AST property manager for industry leader, Chestertons. After two years she made the move from individual flats to block management by joining Rendall & Rittner as a junior property manager where she worked for three years.

‘With all the legislation, regulation and technical knowledge involved, especially in the sites I managed across central London, I found block management really interesting,’ Sam recalls. ‘It was hard work and long hours, but I enjoyed meeting residents, listening to them and coming up with the solutions to any problems they had.’

In 2008, Sam was invited to join Willmotts Chartered Surveyors in Hammersmith initially as a senior property manager, but was soon promoted to associate director when she started taking responsibility for the company’s new business opportunities, marketing and advertising.

‘The opportunity to grow the company lit a fire inside of me and I loved being involved in all the business activity that supports property management,’ she explains.

After seven years with Willmotts, Sam took on a similar role at Managed Living Partnerships at the start of 2015, qualified as a Chartered Surveyor and now joins SDL Property Management to launch its new franchise SDL Property Partners.

‘I love the concept of property managers being given the opportunity to take control, develop a professional service with their own style of working and still have the support and resources of a well-respected brand such as SDL,’ she says. ’I am excited to have joined this project at the early stages, working on the training programme and coordinating business development activity.’

Sam has also been a director of the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) for the past two years, chairing its Membership Working Group, and is a co-founder of ‘Doyenne’, the leasehold industry’s first women’s professional network providing inspiration and for the continued progression and success of women in our industry.

‘I most enjoy getting involved in projects that have the potential to really change and improve the property management industry,’ Sam says. ‘We have come along way in the last few years to establish ourselves as a profession, but there is so much more that can be developed and explored to ensure the industry’s sustained growth. I believe SDL Property Partners will play a key role in that future.’ 

For more information on SDL Property Partners, visit www.sdlpropertypartners.co.uk, call 03336 663 111 or email info@sdlpropertypartners.co.uk

 
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