Housing law solicitors
We provide specialist legal advice to housing providers – whether registered social landlords, local authorities or private developers and investors – on every aspect of their business.
Leading advisers to Scotland’s housing providers
As Scotland’s largest law firm with a specialist housing practice, our multi-disciplinary team of lawyers provides the regulatory, governance, commercial and property advice to meet all of your needs.
We have become trusted advisers to some of the UK’s largest housing providers by delivering innovative, practical and commercial solutions.
We work with a diverse range of organisations and businesses across the public and private sector, including: Scottish Government; local authorities; registered social landlords; joint venture bodies; private sector developers; and urban and community regeneration vehicles
We act for more than 80 Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) ranging from the largest in the country to smaller community-based organisations. Collectively they own or manage more than 75% of the entire RSL housing stock in Scotland, and cover all areas of the country from Shetland and the Western Isles to Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
- Banking and housing finance
- Debt recovery
- Constitutional partnerships and group structures
- Construction advice
- Governance and policy development
- Housing management, property factoring and anti-social behaviour
- Information law
- Litigation and dispute resolution
- Management, acquisition and disposal of housing portfolios
- New housing development models
- Procurement and commercial contracts
- Renewable energy projects
- Shared equity and shared ownership schemes, including after-sale transactions
- Site acquisitions and property development
National Housing Conference
For over 20 years, we have organised the National Housing Conference (NHC), which brings together all those involved in the housing sector to discuss and engage on matters affecting their organisations and the communities they serve.View 2021 content
Our team has been involved in many of the most innovative developments in the housing sector in recent years.
We regularly act for our various RSL clients – particularly those with active development programmes – in relation to new fundraising and refinancing work, negotiating and finalising facility documentation and undertaking associated charging work. We have extensive experience of dealing with all of the main debt lenders to the sector, as well as having acted for RSL borrowers in relation to almost all of the institutional private placements which have been completed to date in the Scottish housing sector, helping those clients to raise over £650 million of investment funding.
We also have experience of advising borrowers on loans with an ESG dimension, including acting for Link Group in relation to a loan from Scottish Widows with explicit ESG linkages and sustainability targets.
We have acted in relation to most of the constitutional partnerships which have been undertaken between Scottish registered social landlords (RSLs) in recent years, including ones where a Scottish RSL has joined a larger group headed by an English registered provider. Examples include acting for Wheatley Housing Group in connection with its partnerships with Cube and Loretto Housing Associations, West Lothian Housing Partnership and Dunedin Canmore Housing; and the partnerships involving West of Scotland HA and Gentoo Group (and the subsequent de-merger); Irvine HA and Riverside Group; Caledonia HA and Cordale and Bellsmyre HAs; Tenants First Housing Co-operative and Sanctuary HA; Link Group and West Highland HA; Cairn HA and ANCHO; Trust HA and Wishaw and District HA; and Kingdom HA and Fairfield HA.
Our work typically involves extensive legal due diligence on assets and liabilities; helping our clients navigate the legislative, regulatory and governance aspects required for the proposed group structures; drafting intra-group and service agreements; constitutional amendments; obtaining funders’ consents, and liaising with all the relevant bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
We also advise on the formation of new RSLs, subsidiaries, and the restructuring of existing RSL groups, including acting for Wheatley Housing Group in the development of its current structure, including the incorporation of Wheatley Housing Group Limited as the group parent and its registration with the SHR as a RSL.
We provide sector-specific construction law advice to housing clients who have active and ongoing new-build development programmes.
As well as advising on the full range of standard-form contracts, we help clients develop tailored schedules of amendments, and provide innovative contractual solutions in relation to projects involving modular and off-site construction including passivhaus designs, as well as advising on a range of risk-mitigation measures in relation to guarantees, performance bonds and price-variation mechanisms.
We deal with all aspects of housing law in relation to tenancy matters and the recovery of possession of properties, providing bespoke advice ranging from pre eviction measures to the commencement and progression of court action through to enforcement. We appreciate that each case turns on its own facts and circumstances which are often shaped by geographic and economic factors.
We appear regularly in Sheriff Courts throughout Scotland on behalf of housing clients, and raise court actions for possession based on all statutory grounds. We have particular experience in dealing with high profile and complex cases, in particular the management of antisocial behaviour.
We also provide policy advice to our clients including the amendment of current policy provisions or the inclusion of new policies, reacting in real time to live issues such as most recently the Coronavirus pandemic.
We also advise registered property factors in relation to the management of common property and estates across the country, in relation to the statutory property factors regime, the new code of conduct for property factors, and when necessary appearing for clients at the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).
We provide a range of support to our RSL clients in relation to information law matters, including data protection and Freedom of Information (FOI) policy development and reviews, helping clients respond to information requests, providing an outsourced Data Protection Officer service, and providing training programmes for RSL staff on data protection awareness and responsibilities.
Our track record of handling housing stock transfers is second to none in Scotland, including having acted for Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) in the biggest stock transfer in the UK ever, when GHA received 80,000 houses from Glasgow City Council. We also acted for GHA in relation to its second stage transfer programme, which disaggregated ownership of over 20,000 houses to 23 other local RSLs.
We advised Grampian Housing Association on a rare statutory directed disposal of assets from Kincardine Housing Co-operative, and have acted for many RSL clients in acquiring portfolios of units from private developers, including, in recent years, acquiring mid-market rent developments from various National Housing Trust special purpose vehicles in Inverness, Aberdeen, Fife, Edinburgh and Scottish Borders.
As well as acting for numerous RSLs in the acquisition and development of sites for affordable housing, we have also acted in relation to more innovative ways of delivering affordable housing.
We have acted for different consortia of RSLs in exploring lease-based development structures, and acted for Scottish Government in relation to the development of the legal documentation which underpins the National Housing Trust initiative. We acted for Albyn Housing Society in finalising the first project signed under the NHT variant scheme for RSLs.
We have also assisted clients looking to deliver affordable housing without public subsidy. We also have extensive experience of delivering student accommodation, both in Scotland and England, using lease-based and income-strip models.
We advise many RSLs on public procurement related matters including: compliance advice, drafting tender documentation and contracts; providing options appraisals on methods of procurement and advising on procurement strategies; establishing frameworks; reviewing procurement policies and procedures; providing advice and representation in contentious procurement disputes.
We have acted for RSL clients in relation to shared ownership housing for many years in all parts of the country, and continue to help clients manage their shared ownership portfolios, including staircasing, tranche sales and renewal of occupancy agreements. We have also advised RSL clients who construct new housing for shared equity sale since the Homestake scheme was first introduced by Scottish Government, and subsequently through the LIFT New Supply scheme.
We have also been the sole advisers to Scottish Government in relation to its shared equity schemes since 2008, providing Scottish Government with input on the development of policy and guidance, as well as putting the legal documentation in place for individual shared equity transactions, of which there have been in excess of 50,000 such transactions, across LIFT, Help to Buy (Scotland), and the First Home Fund. We also handle all “after sale” transactions as they arise.
We act for a wide range of RSLs across the country in connection with the acquisition and development of sites for new-build housing, providing legal input in relation to conveyancing, planning obligations, construction, and agreements with utility providers.
Among the actively-developing clients we currently act for are Cairn, Caledonia, Cunninghame, Eildon, Govan, Grampian, Irvine, Kingdom, Hjaltland and Melville HAs, Hebridean Housing Partnership and Albyn Housing Society. We have also assisted a number of Scottish Local Authorities who have decided to re-commence housebuilding in their areas.
Harper Macleod LLP is highly regarded in the social housing market with an extensive client roster of RSLs alongside various other players in the sector, such as local authorities, government bodies and private sector developers. Clients also benefit from the practices multidisciplinary approach, enabling it to provide full-service advice on M&A and group restructuring, private placement deals, construction and regulatory matters.” Clients add “Knowledge of the sector and the requirements in relation to governance, private finance and regulation is second to none.”
“Top-drawer social housing practice with significant experience acting for public sector entities, registered social landlords (RSLs) and private developers. Has noted expertise in mergers and transactions throughout the sector and particular knowledge of the Scottish Help to Buy scheme and stock transfers. Also regularly advises on regulatory and governance matters, and offers expertise in private placement finance deals.”
SHR and OSCR update Memorandum of Understanding
Net Zero – Can the housing sector beat Scotland’s target or more hot air?
Beyond COP26- Accelerating the pace of decarbonising Scottish homes and buildings
Housing Infrastructure Fund
Environmental, Social and Governance – what does it mean for Social Landlords?
Sustainability Reporting Standard updated to incorporate changes proposed by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) for RSLs
Notices of Potential Liability for Costs: Changes in Discharge Procedures
Call us for free on 0330 159 5555 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.