Part One- Else Solicitor Caroline Major shares her experiences of being a property solicitor while working on a series of recent cases.
Monday morning starts with a Teams call with all members of the firm to catch up, and discuss new opportunities over a cup of coffee. Although most of us are back in the office, we have the advantage of working flexibly so it’s great to hear from all our colleagues especially those working from home.
I had a couple of days out of the office at the end of last week (during which I watched Derbyshire vs Surrey at the Derbyshire County Cricket ground) so I spend an hour or so catching up on emails and post, and getting a debrief from my colleagues in the commercial property team.
I am overseeing the property side of a sale of a dentistry business, which includes the surrender of our client’s existing lease and the grant of a new lease to their buyer. I spend some time catching up with my Corporate colleague and discussing how best to progress the matter given a lack of response from the Landlord. After a couple of well-placed emails and calls we get the matter back on track.
We’re acting for a commercial lender, whose borrower is buying the shares of a pharmacy business. My role is to advise the lender on the commercial lease to be granted to the target company and to identify any issues which might interrupt the borrower’s ability to trade from the premises. I consider the replies to enquiries I have received from the borrower’s solicitor and report on these to my client’s underwriter.
I’m acting for a company purchasing a mixed commercial and residential property and I spend some time calculating whether it would be tax-efficient for my client to claim multiple dwellings relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax.
A key part of my role is drafting Contracts and Transfers in relation to property sales and purchases and this morning I have an unusual property-for-property exchange on my desk so consider the relevant clauses to be included in the Transfer and my client’s Stamp Duty position.
My next task is to consider the Land Registry title to some land compulsorily purchased by the railway company and any impact this might have on the neighbouring land being sold by my clients. To help keep the sale moving forward as smoothly as possible I am in regular touch with my client’s buyer’s solicitor who is considering the title to the land being sold and raising enquiries with me.
In the morning I am assisting my colleagues in Litigation with a neighbour dispute over work carried out to a Party Wall. I investigate the Land Registry title and review a trial bundle which includes the photographs of the wall in dispute. I let my colleague have my advice to be passed on to our client’s barrister. We work with our colleagues in Litigation on a number of matters, particularly disputes over boundaries, rights of way and other easements, and landlord and tenant disputes.
Later on, I’m advising my client’s lender on a property my client is purchasing. It’s my role to protect both my client and their lender’s interests, and – if we find defects with a property – to suggest how the risk can be mitigated. In this instance, we’re considering the access to the rear of the Property over a private road and also the permissions obtained for a recent renovation of the Property.
I am acting for a Tenant taking out a new Lease of an office premises and in the afternoon I have a completion meeting with the Landlord’s solicitor. This was a slightly more complex matter including a Sub-Lease, a Licence to Underlet, a Rent Deposit Deed and a complex Land Registry title so it’s great to be able to let my client know that we have completed and they have secured their new offices for their business.
After work I meet my partner at the nearby country club to practice my swing at the driving range and have dinner.
I am acting for a tenant taking a new lease over a large industrial property. They’ve instructed a surveyor to identify any structural and repair issues with the Property. Once the surveyor has let us have their findings, it’s my job to discuss with the client how the condition of the Property fits with their covenants in the Lease, particularly regarding repair. The Tenant has reached an agreement with the Landlord as to who will be responsible for which works so I spend time drafting clauses for the new Lease to put this into effect.
We have been approached by an existing client to sell a large parcel of land. I spend some time discussing the technicalities of this with our senior partner and reach out to our client’s accountant.
I am acting for a company considering purchasing a commercial property. We have identified a query with the extent of land included in the title plan to the property held at the Land Registry. The selling company has made use of the land in question for many decades and are in the process of applying to the Land Registry for adverse possession. They can then prove title and transfer the land to our client. In the meantime, our clients are entering the property under a short-term licence to occupy, which I complete today with their solicitor.
In the evening I attend my regular kickboxing club which is a great way to burn off some energy and keep fit.
Today I complete a purchase of a newly-built industrial unit by a pension fund. This is one of the most rewarding parts of my job – bringing all our hard work to a conclusion and sharing in my client’s satisfaction when they pick up the keys to their new property.
I also take new instructions from a company who are looking to take on an existing Lease. I discuss the scope of our instruction with my client and write to them to confirm what I will be doing for them, and my likely costs. I also make initial contact with the solicitors acting for the outgoing Tenant and the Landlord. With a number of parties involved, it will be important to keep up regular communication with them throughout this matter.
A new client has brought in some Deeds to a commercial property which is let to two separate Tenants. He asks me to consider the Leases, one of which has expired and another which is nearing expiry, and advise him how best to proceed.