A Royal Deal

Friday 20th July 2018 05:14 EDT

We are currently going through the paperwork on a deal we have placed. There is an imposed time pressure by the seller. This particular deal is being ‘turned’ by a party, which is not unusual in property circles in London.

Many dealers, rather than going through the expense of completing a deal, and the hassle which goes with sorting out any issues, would rather sell it on to a known party. I say known because this kind of deal cannot be put on the market.

This particular deal requires an ‘insider’ to execute for the following reasons. Firstly, the deal needs to be done in cash. Secondly, there are issues surrounding the deal which even some lawyers would be in unfamiliar territory with. Thirdly, it needs to be done discreetly, without alerting the original seller of the deal you’re doing with the intermediary.

The main issue with this deal is that the ownership of the freehold has reverted back to The Crown.

All the word freehold means, is the land is free of a hold, i.e. not a lease. It will surprise most people to hear that the ultimate owner of all land, is not the person or cooperate entity which owns the freehold title. English Land Law has, since feudal times, been based on a system of tenure. A freeholder is NOT an absolute owner, but a tenant in fee simple holding, in most cases directly from the sovereign, as lord paramount of all land within the realm.

Fee simple is defined as an interest in land that, being the broadest property interest allowed by law. So, in short, the title is not absolute. Absolute title, in most cases, belongs to The Crown, or properly known as The Crown Estate or Escheat.

When property becomes lost, as it does time to time, it becomes known as bona vacantia, which means lost property.

This situation arises when, for example, a person dies without leaving any dependents, or if a company which owns a freehold becomes dissolved.

In our case, the company which owns the freehold did not file the necessary returns and this led to the company being struck off; and the asset, which is the freehold of land where the flat is, ended up passing to The Crown or in Escheat.

In doing a deal like this it is paramount the right lawyer is appointed. Someone who knows the terrain; not just from an academic viewpoint but someone who has had experience of having been in this framework.

Not all the lawyers I spoke to knew what this word Escheat even meant. In the end we believe we have got the right person on the case.

In the UK we have a very open system of land ownership, one can see the ownership of any property they wish from the Land Registry, and see how much was paid for it, and when and whom it is owned by, unless of course it was a company owning the asset which was sold.

Prices in a block of flats or a street can easily be ascertained. This means a lot of the times in order to get a deal, it will mean to look for the ‘problem’ properties. The problems disappear once you start to unravel the issues. This requires having the right team around you to advise you.

Agony Agent Is Here To Help!

Following on from last week's question regarding flooring, I thought it would be best to cover all areas in the property.

It can be tempting to decorate your investment in your own colour choices, however, this is a mistake many people make, and it can cost you prospective tenants. Instead, create a blank canvas and make it easy for your tenants to personalise the space. If they can make themselves feel at home, they’ll be more likely to stay. Your choice of paint colour doesn’t have to be all white or magnolia; these colours are great when you’re on a budget and won’t be charging a lot of rent, however, if you’re trying to attract a different kind of tenant, or want to charge a little more, there are many other neutral colours you could try.

If you like a certain type of paint but don’t want to break the bank, why not paint the walls in magnolia, with a different neutral coloured feature wall? Or paint the space above a dado rail magnolia and save the other colour for the bottom half? Whatever you decide, I would recommend you try and stay away from bright colours and wall paper, as these could put a perfectly good tenant off renting your property, if it’s not to their taste.

When choosing your paints, if you have the budget, try and buy types that will provide the most durability with a long-life span for your tenants. For kitchens and bathrooms, especially in apartments, it’s a good idea to buy paint with added mould protection as these are common areas where condensation can build up. For the rest of the house a silk paint is nice, or try using a specialist paint that’s more easily wiped clean. Skirting boards and woodwork will be fine in a white gloss emulsion.

For the ultimate in durability, look for paints that contain latex or acrylic, they take knocks and scrapes better than other varieties, and with so many people moving furniture in and out of rental properties, it’s likely there’ll be a few of these. Once you’re done painting, save any leftover paint, buy extra tins, or make a note of the brands and colours of the paints you’ve used, including which rooms you used them in, as this makes it much easier to repaint after a tenancy or allow your tenants to touch up any scuffs themselves.

Remember that no matter what paint you choose, you will never meet everyone's taste, and you will still get the odd comment that they do not like it. But, keeping the colours neutral will help eliminate decoration as a reason not to take your property.

Please do get in touch for some more free helpful tips.

Richard Bond

Lettings Manager

Sow & Reap

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