Whether you’re a social landlord, housing association, registered provider or community land trust, you can count on us for expert advice and support for all your legal needs.
Proven expertise and experience in social housing legal matters
With more than 30 years’ experience advising the social housing sector, we know the industry intimately, and are dedicated to successful commercial partnerships.
We work closely with our providers as part of their team helping them to deliver the results they need. We have long standing relationships with our client partners both locally and nationally with some individuals having acted for clients for more than 20 years. Our clients range from some of the largest housing providers to smaller rural providers both regionally and nationally.
Our experience includes advising on refinancing portfolios, acquiring new housing stock, purchasing sites, housing and flat developments, occupancy agreements, shared-ownership leases, site set ups, lease extensions, right to buy, help to buy, disposals of existing stock (including large stock transfers and stock reorganisations), advising on legislation, charity and governance concerns.
Our sector knowledge is second to none. We are able to recognise and advise on issues which arise for our social housing clients and work together with them to find ways to overcome blockers and take advantage of opportunities. Many of our team members have worked in house with our registered providers as part of their office and some are involved in registered providers in a non-executive directorship role which sets our sector knowledge apart from others.
We have delivered a number of new initiatives for clients in this sector including the first partnership between ‘for-profit’ providers and ‘not-for-profit’ providers to deliver additional housing; and working with providers to develop their open market companies to provide open market housing to generate funds to use to reinvest into affordable properties.
Making a difference to you
In addition to providing insightful and practical legal advice, we consider how best to enable you to meet your targets and your objectives, whether these be short term targets or long term business plans. We have successfully demonstrated this by working with clients, as part of their team, to improve their plot sales targets by streamlining processes and having weekly meetings to discuss progress.
Examples of our recent work include:
Enabling a registered provider to secure funding of more than £10 million.
Working with providers to develop open market arms to cross subsidise the delivery of affordable housing, to include joint ventures/ partnerships
Multi million £ stock transfers
Working with a client to acquire a site to help military veterans build their own homes
Advising registered providers on the designated protected area legislation and provisions in the capital funding guide on this which dictate which model lease is to be used on a scheme and to ensure compliance with any grant funding conditions
Advising on a partnership arrangement between not-for-profit and for-profit registered providers
Advising on grant funding agreements worth over 11.4 million
Complex acquisitions including conditional contracts, option agreements, golden brick and development agreements and all construction related documentation
Planning advice, including planning on the recent phosphates issue
Drafting new precedent model leases and specific provisions i.e. ground source heat provisions to ensure the registered provider retains the benefit of the RHI payments
Setting up shared ownership schemes and dealing with all plot sales on both large sites (with over 143 shared ownership plots) and small sites
Dealing with resales, staircasing, deeds of variations, surrenders and all shared ownership, right to buy and right to acquire matters.
Mastering the margins of social housing planning
In an industry like social housing, where initial investment and eventual rewards can both be high, having a legal partner you can trust, communicate openly with, has specialist knowledge of the sector and the challenges and constraints, is able to offer a full service and has knowledge of potential opportunities can be crucial.
With Stephens Scown, you get all this and more. We’re recognised by Legal 500 (2022) as a “highly responsive practice that provides clear and practical advice”, while our registered provider clients have said the following about our team:
“We have been working exclusively with the Stephens Scown team for a number of years now, having decided to put all of our eggs in one basket for all of our Shared Ownership plots sales, Right to Buy transactions and disposals of existing assets. We have a great working relationship with the team and owe the reduction in sales times to their hard work and dedication. They understand internal struggles more than most and do everything that they can to tackle any enquiries raised before troubling us where they can. They are always at the other end of the phone when required and is happy to discuss and deal with any issues that crop up. This is done efficiently and in a timely manner, keeping us in the loop throughout. Our Shared Ownership and disposals programme have grown significantly in the past 4 years which would not have been possible without the help of Stephens Scown. Throughout this time the firm have also carried out acquisition and charging work for the company partly due to their excellence in dealing with the sale of the company’s stock. I would certainly recommend Stephens Scown to any registered provider.”
Coastline, April 2021
“Approachable, efficient and knowledgeable with a breadth of experience and expertise across the range of issues faced by CRHA in delivering new homes.”
Alyn Shott, Development Manager, Cornwall Rural Housing Association Limited
“Stephen Scown understands the company needs and provides a fast, commercial and reliable service that the shared ownership sales team are pleased with. Knowledgeable, good attention to detail and have a positive attitude to overcome any challenges. The team are always happy to chat things through to ensure the right result is achieved.”
Helen Rafferty, Sales and Marketing Manager, Magma