Overview

With net zero targets getting ever closer, most Registered Providers (RPs) are now in the full throws of retrofitting existing properties and planning a strategy of works for the future. So now you have decided to do the works, what are the next steps in terms of legal issues?

Lender Consents

One of the key things that will need to be in place before any works are carried out is lender consent. If the properties are in charge to a funder or security trustee then consent may be needed in order to do the works. This is particularly important when creating new rights or easements across the land in charge as these are not always obvious at the outset of any works but do affect the title and therefore will not be able to be registered without the appropriate consents. Consent will also be required where boundaries are being altered, new access ways created or any legal document between the parties is to be registered against the title. Depending on the nature of the works, this may occur if new heat pumps are being installed to serve a building or estate or pipes and cables are being diverted or laid.

Installation of PV panels being fitted to tenanted properties as part of retrofit works would also likely attract lender consent. These are generally affixed to properties by way of a lease between the freehold owner/RP landlord and the tenant (and sometimes the PV provider) in order to set out the obligations of repair and maintenance and to create the necessary rights to carry out such maintenance. This creation of a new lease would attract lender consent as it alters the nature of the title and would need to be registered at the Land Registry.

Landlord Consents

Where properties are held under a long lease (i.e. the owning RP is the tenant) it is likely that landlord consent would be required for works that affect the property structure or exterior or alters any access or creates new rights or easements. This consent should be sought prior to the start of any works on site otherwise there is a risk of breach of the tenant covenants in the lease, which in turn could lead to the landlord being in a position to forfeit. Some landlords of long leases may be hard to track down or may have changed since the start of the lease and so this process should be started as early as possible to avoid delays.

Next Steps for RPs

 

  • It is important to review all legal title and leases of properties when considering retrofit works in advance of the works in order to compile a summary of consents required.
  • Identify bespoke clauses in either existing long leases or homeowner shared ownership leases that may need reviewing to carry out retrofit works i.e. repairs and maintenance provisions, the ability to undertake works as tenant or landlord, restrictions that may need to be complied with or potential boundary issues for access to do works, and;
  • Conduct highways searches to check potential access issues.

For further information or assistance in obtaining lender consents, reviewing long leases and shared ownership leases or conducting highways searches, contact Natalie Owen.

Get In Touch

Natalie is a Partner and Head of Securitisation at Shakespeare Martineau.

With over 15 years experience in the Social Housing Sector, Natalie works with providers of social housing to maximise their assets in both securing property for funding and in portfolio acquisition or disposal. Natalie advises on a full range of security options including refinancing, private placements and bonds and has carried out property health checks for clients who are considering charging or disposing of stock to ensure they get best value.

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Published: 7th September 2023
Area: Social Housing

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