Building Legal Solutions
Maximising the value of an investment portfolio isn’t simply about maximising rents. The quality of the tenant and the terms upon which properties are let out are both critical factors. We see our role as ensuring we work closely with both our client and their retained advisors to preserve and enhance the value of our clients’ investments.
We have worked with clients who invest in both commercial and residential property for many years. Whatever the mix and size of their property portfolio, our clients tell us the most important issues for them are:
- Maximising the overall value of their portfolio
- Minimising the disruption caused by void periods
One of the most important relationships for any lawyer advising on investment property is therefore that between the lawyer and the client’s surveyors. We have worked with a number of surveyors’ practices for many years and we believe that all parties benefit from the enhanced levels of trust that arise when each party understands and appreciates the role of the other. We never hesitate to recommend our surveyor contacts when the advice our clients require would best be delivered by them rather than us and work hard to ensure we earn a reputation for collaborating with rather than criticising our fellow professionals.
Consequently, we have increasingly become involved in advising surveyors on both the strategic and legal issues affecting a property before Heads of Terms are drawn up and the resulting instructions ensure the transaction can be progressed quickly. Changing the deal after Heads of Terms are issued is a criticism often levelled at lawyers but discussions in advance of terms being issued avoids this pitfall.
Our clients instruct and rely on the expert advice of surveyors specialising in agency work, valuations, property management and building surveys. Understanding the important work that each of these specialists undertake enhances our ability both to work with them and also advise our clients which expert they require. Very often we are the first point of contact for our investor clients and it is crucial we spot at an early stage where additional expertise is required.
When it comes to the legal aspects of the transactions we undertake for our investor clients, we always try to remember that delay is costly to them. Ensuring voids are kept to a minimum requires us to work quickly to get a new tenant into the property. Unsurprisingly, a confrontational approach with tenants’ lawyers isn’t conducive to progressing a matter quickly and we encourage our clients and their retained professionals to take an active part in overcoming roadblocks to progress when negotiating leases.
Creative solutions are sometimes required to unblock an impasse. Thinking ‘outside the box’ might not be traditionally be associated with investment property work where many lawyers rely on a standardised approach. Creativity is a skill we believe is essential to any legal work however and all our lawyers are encouraged to propose inventive but practical solutions when required. As part of our due diligence we would check the planning history with the local authority in order to advise on current use and any changes proposed that may require permission.
Managing an investment portfolio requires clients to think ahead and we frequently advise at a strategic level to ensure that they are in control of such issues as termination and renewals rather than reacting to the actions of their tenants. Once again, the relationship with our clients’ other professional advisors is critical.
Portfolio management includes dealing with requests from tenants whether to assign their lease; sublet; or to make alterations to the premises. Ensuring our landlord clients are seen to progress such requests in a timely manner enhances the relationship with their tenants and increases the chances that a tenant may wish to renew their lease at the end of the term. Reminding ourselves of the importance of our clients’ relationship with their tenants ensures we don’t treat such work as second-rate.
Our charging structure for investment work ensures transparency by linking our fees to the number and complexity of the legal documents but also the overall value to our client of the transaction in hand. Overcomplicating a transaction perversely benefits lawyers charging by the hour and we know our clients never have to be concerned that there is any incentive to drag out a deal.
Many of our longstanding investor clients have recommended us over the years to other investors and our relationships with our clients’ surveyors are one of our most important sources of new instructions. If you are considering instructing Feldon Dunsmore then we would be happy to provide you with testimonials from both clients and other professionals before you work with us.