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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Commercial Property (12)

Wednesday
May032017

Land Sale Comes Back to Haunt Trustees 

Helen Hendry, a Solicitor in our Commercial Property team emphasises the importance of obtaining professional advice when it comes to the acquisition or disposal of any property on behalf of a charity or a trust.

In 2010, the Spiritual Association of Great Britain Limited (SAGB) decided to sell its headquarters in one of London’s premium locations, 33 Belgrave Square. SAGB had purchased a long lease in the property back in 1955. The association found the running costs of the property were (in their view) “becoming onerous”. SAGB sold the property in 2010 for £6 Million - significantly less than its market value. The property was then quickly re-sold for £21 Million. The Charity Commission raised an inquiry after media reports arose surrounding the sale, which was found to be slightly complicated by a “particularly restrictive clause” concerning the use of the property. SAGB’s lease stated that the property had to be used as a “non-profit, learned or charitable or cultural association or society use or as an embassy”. However, tenants with leases of more than 40 years, with 25 years already expired, can be brought to the Lands Tribunal to seek modification of such covenants.

The Charity Commission report stated the trustees of SAGB had failed to:

  1. Conduct proper due diligence on the prospective purchaser (a BVI “Brass-Plate” Company);
  2. Obtain specialist and independent advice on how to achieve a maximum return on property disposal; and
  3. Obtain, follow, or take proper account of, appropriate professional advice.

The trustees had been advised about a potential change of use, but they believed that it was too speculative. The buyer acquired the property, secured a change of use and sold it for a £15 Million profit. 

The report stated the sale amounted to “a basic mismanagement by [SAGB’s] trustees.” Whilst no evidence was found that the trustees had received any personal benefit from the sale, as trustees owe fiduciary duties to the charitable trust, this left them open to a claim for SAGB’s losses.

Greene & Greene is able to assist in the acquisition or disposal (which includes letting) of properties on behalf of charities, or trusts. For further advice please contact Helen Hendry by e-mail – helenhendry@greene-greene.com or by phone on 01284 717451.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Friday
Feb102017

New Partner at Greene & Greene Solicitors

Tim Mendes da Costa, a member of the Commercial Property team has been promoted to Partner having joined Greene & Greene Solicitors who are based in Bury St. Edmunds in 2014.

Tim qualified as a solicitor in 2006 and was previously a Partner with a firm in London.  Clients have been impressed with Tim’s “diligence, thoroughness and sound advice”.  He specialises in both commercial and high-value residential property transactions and acts for a broad range of clients, from individual purchasers and sellers, to developers, landlords, lenders and investors.

Chris Thomson, Senior Partner at Greene & Greene, said:

When Tim Mendes da Costa joined us two years ago, we quickly realised that he would be a valuable member of the Commercial Property team.  Greene & Greene has a long standing reputation for delivering the service our clients expect and deserve and Tim’s new role as Partner will only strengthen that.”

For further information please telephone Jools Windermere on 01284 717430, visit www.greene-greene.com and follow @greenegreenelaw.

Wednesday
Jan062016

Wind Energy Generation Records Broken

The UK benefits from approximately 40% of all wind energy in Europe.  RenewablesUK say that statistics from National Grid confirm last year was a record year for wind energy generation, with onshore and offshore wind farms contributing 11% of the UK’s electricity (up from 9.5% in 2014).  More than 30% of UK households are benefitting from wind energy. 

Our Commercial Property Team has been involved in major projects concerning offshore wind farms, as well as smaller on shore schemes, for many years.  Greene & Greene is providing legal support to prestigious wind energy related schemes and demand for expertise in this sector is growing.

If you have an interest in developing a wind farm, large or small, we can support your project and our experienced legal team are on hand to assist with the complex tasks you will encounter.

For more information please visit http://www.greene-greene.com/energy.html and follow @greenegreenelaw. 

 

 

Friday
Oct112013

Commercial Tenancies: Guarantor inadvertently released by Landlord

 

The High Court has recently held, in Topland Portfolio No. 1 Ltd v Smiths News Trading Ltd (2013), that a tenant’s guarantor to a commercial property lease was released from his guarantee after the landlord granted a licence to alter the premises but failed to seek the guarantor’s signature.

The licence for alterations in question included provisions which varied the terms of the lease, therefore also changing the guarantor’s obligations.  As the guarantor’s agreement to those variations was not obtained, the guarantee was deemed to be released.

This case reiterates that landlords must be careful when carrying out any form of variation, approval or addendum.  If there is any risk, doubt or uncertainty about the guarantee being inadvertently released, the guarantor should either be asked to be a party to the document or formally consent to its terms. 

If you need any further advice about this subject, please contact Greene & Greene's commercial property team on 01284 762211.

Monday
Aug192013

Forthcoming ban on R22 gas in air-conditioning systems

Air-conditioning (“AC”) units are now a common sight in modern commercial premises.  R22 is a gas widely used in AC units, heat pump and refrigeration systems.  Since 1 January 2010, only recycled or reclaimed R22 gas can be used in AC systems.  However, from 1 January 2015, the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2011 (the “Regulations”) will prevent any R22 being used in AC systems, other than for limited research purposes.

Existing R22 gas does not have to be removed but it cannot be topped up or any leakages replaced.  Failure to comply with the Regulations may result in enforcement action by either the Environment Agency or the Local Authority.  

Whether a landlord can recover the cost from his tenant of complying with the Regulations or whether a tenant can challenge the cost depends primarily on the wording of the service charge clause - whether it allows for repairs to common service installations, plant or machinery.  There may be a cap on repair costs that can be claimed from the tenant, or a reasonableness requirement.  

Advice may be required on whether any proposed work amounts to either “repair” or “replacement” as this is a fundamental and complicated area - for example; an obligation to repair can include replacement if an item is beyond sensible patching up.  

Landlords should be looking at when their current leases expire and should seek advice about whether the terms of these leases permit some, if not all, of the costs of compliance with the Regulations to be passed on to tenants.  Landlords should also ensure that the service charge provisions in any new leases allow the cost to be recouped.

Tenants should particularly think about whether there are works necessary to comply with the Regulations when:

  • considering leasing a property - questions should first be asked about whether the AC system contains R22 and whether it will be replaced before the start of the lease;
  • considering lease renewal/exercising a break option - an opportunity to negotiate and apportion these costs, or to look to avoid liability for major future expenditure by terminating the lease; and
  • dealing with dilapidations at the end of a lease. 

The content of this article is for general information only. If you require further advice on this issue, please contact Greene & Greene’s commercial property team, on 01284 762211.

Thursday
Aug082013

Recent changes to UK energy performance regulations

The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (‘EPBR’) came into force in January 2013, replacing all previous regulations and bringing in a number of changes, including:

  • Extending categories of buildings exempt from requirement to have an Energy Performance Certificate (“EPC”);
  • Requiring non-residential buildings visited frequently by the public to now display an EPC where they are above a certain size;
  • Changing the date of validity of EPCs;
  • Requiring the asset rating of a building to be stated in adverts for sale/rent in commercial media;
  • Improving the defence to a penalty charge notice for failure to have an EPC; and
  • Removing “gold-plating” beyond what’s required by the EU Directive.   

Overall, the EPBR simplifies and clarifies the law concerning energy performance. It introduces some significant changes, the majority of which will positively affect landlords and sellers.  However, some may be administratively or financially burdensome.  Buyers and tenants will generally have more information available to them about the energy efficiency of a building as a result, but should be aware that landlords may look to pass on any associated costs via the service charge.  Please note that there are currently several areas of ambiguity in this legislation that await clarification. 

The content of this article is for general information only.  If you require further advice on the impact of these legislative changes on your business or on steps to ensure compliance, please contact Greene & Greene's commercial property team on 01284 762211.