Real Estate

Herrington Carmichael has one of largest property law teams in the South-East of England. Supporting our clients across a range of specailst legal services.

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Real Estate Lawyers

Our Real Estate team is one of the largest in the South East, we provide a comprehensive range of property law services to both local and national clients. Our range of clients include:

  • Property developers
  • Banks
  • Local authorities
  • Property investors
  • Commercial tenants and landowners. 

As such, our solicitors are experts in a variety of sectors.

Commercial Property
Development & Housebuilding
Property Finance
Property Investment
Property & Land Disputes

Commercial Property

Our Commercial Property experts act for businesses and individuals in the purchase, asset management and sale of commercial property including offices, retail, industrial leisure and mixed use property.

We can advise on:

  • Property Investment
  • Secured Lending
  • Business Leases and disputes 
  • Collective Enfranchisement

By understanding our clients’ intentions from the beginning of transactions, we seek to protect their long term interests.

Commercial Property

Development & Housebuilding

Our wide ranging expertise means that we are able to assist with the full spectrum of legal disciplines in this area, including:

  • Drafting and negotiating the full raft of development agreements including option agreements, conditional contracts and overage agreements.
  • Drafting / negotiating applicable documents on construction projects
  • Infrastructure and planning agreements – liaising with statutory undertakers and local authorities
  • Joint ventures and advising on associated documents such as collaboration agreements.
  • Lender and legal requirements in respect of development finance.
  • Plot sales, including the preparation of master legal documentation and comprehensive sales packs.
  • Transaction structure – including considering the suitability of a land purchase vs corporate purchase where a company owns the target development land.
  • Site assembly projects including strategic land agreements.
Development & Housebuilding

Property Finance

Our real estate development finance and secured lending team have industry recognised expertise and regularly advises clients on a full range of complex property financing transactions and arrangements.

We are experienced in drafting and advising on documentation based on LMA standards, bank standard documents, complex security suites (including overseas) and multi-currency lending arrangements.

We manage transactions from start to finish, ensuring a smooth and cohesive process which facilitates commencement to completion in a quick and timely fashion. We will invest the time upfront with you to understand your standard internal facility documentation and security requirements. Our expertise includes:

  • Bridging finance
  • Development finance
  • Prioritisation of loans
  • Property acquisition and investment finance
  • Property refinancing
  • Refurbishment loans – heavy and light
  • Short term loan funding
  • Sale and leaseback structures

Alongside our corporate and commercial teams, we are able to offer advice on:

  • Loan agreements
  • Floating charges
  • Debentures
  • Guarantees, security over building contracts and other finance documentation

Property Finance

Property Investment

We work closely with other teams in the firm, in particular our Construction, Corporate and Banking, and Real Estate Dispute Resolution teams, so that we offer a multi-disciplinary service to advise clients on the best way of structuring and financing any given transaction.

At Herrington Carmichael, we also recognise the importance of working alongside our client’s other professional advisors, with pro-active advice and support every step of the way.

Our team of expert property investment solicitors act for clients in all aspects of the property sector, including commercial and residential developers, investors and housing associations across various property sectors including offices, industrial, retail, leisure & hospitality, pharmaceutical, life sciences, energy and technology.

Property Investment

Selling Land for Development

Whether you are a commercial landlord, tenant or land owner, in the event of a dispute our experience covers a range from the complex and high value to the more modest.

We represent clients in the courts, property tribunals, in adjudication and use alternative dispute resolution procedures, including mediation, to resolve disputes. We understand your concerns to avoid the expense and distraction that disputes can bring and we will work with you to find a solution to your problem.
Our approach is tailored to you to provide an effective strategy. We have a dedicated team of dispute lawyers with a range of expertise and experience dealing with property disputes.
Our Property Dispute Lawyers can support on:
  • Commercial Landlord & Tenant Disputes
  • Residential Landlord & Tenant Disputes
  • Land Disputes
  • Construction Disputes
  • Restrictive Covenants
Property & Land Disputes


What is the process for selling my commercial property?

When a seller instructs us to act for them in relation to the sale of their commercial property, they are sometimes unaware of the legal procedure involved in a sale, and also the documentation that will be required from them in order to satisfy a buyer.

We have therefore produced this summary as a brief guide to the documentation required from a seller, and as an overview of the sale process once a seller instructs a solicitor.

What is the Sale Process?

  1. At the start of the transaction, we will send out a draft contract to the buyer’s solicitor, together with copies of the Land Registry title documents for the property and copies of the various documents listed below in the “What documents should I provide to my solicitor?” section.
  2. If you have a mortgage secured against the property, we will liaise with your lender to obtain a redemption statement to check that the sale proceeds from the property will be sufficient to redeem the mortgage.
  3. The buyer’s solicitor will review the draft contract and supporting paperwork provided by us, undertake searches on the property, and raise enquiries with us on the documentation. If the buyer is getting a mortgage to fund the purchase, the buyer’s solicitor will also need to satisfy any requirements of the buyer’s lender.
  4. We will reply to the buyer’s solicitor’s enquiries on your behalf (after taking your instructions) and once the buyer is satisfied with our responses (and any requirements imposed by the buyer’s lender have been met), the parties can then proceed to exchange of contracts.
  5. On exchange of contracts, the buyer will pay a deposit to us and the completion date will be fixed.
  6. On completion, the buyer will pay the balance of the purchase price to us. With these funds, we will pay any sum required to redeem your mortgage to your lender and then send the balance of the sale proceeds to you (less any costs such as your agent’s fees, which we can arrange to pay on your behalf).
  7. Once the sale has completed, the buyer’s solicitor will submit an application to the Land Registry to register the buyer as the owner of the property.
When selling commercial property, what documents should I provide to my solicitor?

There are a number of documents that you will need to provide when selling your commercial property, including the following:

  1. Replies to Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSEs). CPSEs are a set of standard questions, which sellers are asked to provide answers to when they sell their commercial property. It is important that the CPSEs are answered accurately, as a buyer is entitled to rely on the responses, and if there is an incorrect reply, the buyer could sue the seller for misrepresentation.
  2. Planning and Building Regulations Documentation. If you have copies of any planning permissions or certificates of lawful use relating to the property, these should be provided to the buyer. In addition, any building regulations certificates should also be included.
  3. Asbestos Survey. If the property is of a certain age, you are legally required to check for the presence of asbestos, and to produce an ongoing management plan. This should be provided to the buyer.
  4. Fire Risk Assessment. If you are responsible for a commercial property, you should undertake a fire risk assessment and this should be provided to the buyer.
  5. Energy Performance Certificate. Usually the agent will provide an EPC to the buyer as part of the marketing process. However, it is useful to supply us with a copy of the EPC, which we can pass on to the buyer’s solicitor.
  6. Any other documentation relevant to the property, for example:
  • Air conditioning maintenance records
  • Health and safety file
  • Electrical and/or gas test certificates
  • Details of business rates and any other costs the buyer would be liable for as owner of the property

To avoid delays in the sale transaction, it is important that this documentation is provided to the buyer as soon as possible. Whilst the above list sets out common items required by a buyer, there may also be other documentation required, which is relevant to a particular property transaction.

Why do we do Commercial Property searches?

Searches enable buyers to learn as much as they can about a property before committing to the purchase. Anything unexpected which is revealed can be raised with the seller pre-exchange, with a view to resolving or renegotiating the purchase price or other terms of the transaction. Therefore, sellers need to be equally aware of the importance of searches when selling commercial property.

If you are taking out a mortgage to purchase the property, your lender will likely require at least a Local Search, Drainage & Water Search and an Environmental Search. Frequently they also still require a search concerning Chancel Repair Liability. Even if you are a cash purchaser, the below searches should always be considered.

What is a title indemnity policy?

The title of a property will usually be investigated when the property is either being sold or leased out. The buyer or prospective tenant under a lease will want to establish whether the seller is legally able to transfer the title to the property that the seller has contracted to sell and that there are no defects in that title that would adversely affect the buyer’s interests.

A seller or landlord needs to establish whether there are any title defects which need to be resolved or disclosed to the buyer.

A lender taking security over the property needs to establish that there are no defects in title that might adversely affect the value of the property or the ability of the lender to sell the property to realise its security.

Putting a title policy in place
Where a title indemnity policy is required it is not uncommon for the insurer to require replies from the property owner to a number of enquiries relating to the defect that has been identified and for certain documents to be provided as evidence to assist in assessing the risk posed by the defect. For example, the seller may be required to provide planning documents, a statutory declaration confirming the use of the property or land over which rights are exercised, and copies of the titles affected by the defect.

What does title indemnity cover do?

A title indemnity policy will not remedy the title defect – instead it provides financial compensation in the event of the defect causing actual loss, subject to the limit of indemnity stated on the policy. This amount is usually the value of the property in question, the amount of the mortgage being obtained, or the gross development value of a site that is to be developed.

Is Commercial Property exempt from VAT?

The default position is that commercial properties are exempt from VAT. This means that the purchase or leasing of the property would not attract VAT on the purchase price or rent.

However, it is not as simple as that and an owner of commercial property can elect to waive this exemption from VAT and choose to charge VAT on a property. This is known as the “option to tax”. The “option to tax” is a long term commitment as once made it cannot be revoked for 20 years (although there are circumstances where it may be revisited within six months of it being taken). Before making such a commitment it is important to consider the implications. To assist with this some points to consider are:

  • Input VAT cannot be recovered on an exempt property. As such exercising the option to tax can make commercial sense if VAT has or will be paid on construction costs, repairs or other works.
  • If an option of tax has been exercised over the property then VAT must be charged on any sale or letting (there are few exemptions). Some businesses cannot recover VAT and as such an elected building may be harder to market.
  • Stamp Duty is payable on the VAT inclusive rent or purchase price and therefore if VAT is payable on the purchase price it increases the amount of Stamp Duty payable. Again, this may make the property harder to market or lead to concessions on the sale price or rent.
  • If potential tenants and purchasers can recover VAT then VAT is less likely to be an issue. The tenant or purchaser may recover the VAT paid as input VAT and the requirement to pay VAT will be a matter of cash flow only.
  • An option to tax is personal and does not automatically pass with the building. A buyer of an opted property must also exercise their own option to tax if it wishes to recover the VAT on expenses relating to the property. Again, once the option is made that buyer would need to charge VAT on the rent and on future sale proceeds.

When considering buying or taking a lease of property it is important to find out the VAT status at an early stage. If VAT is payable there could be serious financial implications that you may not have factored into your budget and may test the financial viability of the planned acquisition.

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