Tag Archive for: Property

Solicitor Sara Butt

Break Clauses in Leases – What do they do?

Break Clauses in Leases – What do they do?

In leases, break clauses serve as crucial provisions that provide flexibility for both landlords and tenants. These clauses allow either party to terminate the lease before the expiration of the fixed term, subject to certain conditions and notice requirements.

Break clauses are regulated by specific laws and have implications that both parties should carefully consider. This article aims to shed light on the key aspects of break clauses in leases, outlining their effects, considerations for landlords and tenants, and the importance of seeking legal advice when exercising them. Break clauses can be included in both residential and commercial leases, but this article will primarily focus on commercial leases.

What is a break clause?
A break clause is a contractual provision that grants one or both parties the right to terminate a lease prematurely. It acts as an escape route, allowing parties to exit a lease early, providing flexibility in an ever-changing business environment. It impacts all parties, so it is important that both landlords and tenants have an understanding of them. The points for each party to consider differ slightly in detail and are outlined below.

Break clauses are typically subject to specific conditions, such as the payment of outstanding rent, compliance with repair obligations, or vacant possession.

Points for Landlords to Consider
For landlords, it is vital to carefully draft break clauses to ensure they protect their interests. Ambiguous or poorly worded clauses can lead to disputes and uncertainty. Seeking legal advice when drafting a break clause can help landlords avoid potential pitfalls.

Notice Periods
Break clauses usually require the serving of a notice by the party wishing to terminate the lease. The notice period can vary, but it is crucial for landlords to clearly specify the required length of notice in the lease agreement.

Points for Tenants to Consider
Tenants must thoroughly review the conditions associated with the break clause. These conditions may include obligations such as reinstatement of alterations, payment of outstanding sums, or compliance with repairing obligations. Failure to fulfil these conditions can lead to the break clause being invalidated, potentially leaving the tenant liable for rent and other costs.

Timing and Flexibility
Break clauses provide tenants with the opportunity to reassess their business needs and exit a lease if necessary. However, tenants should be cautious about the timing of exercising the break clause. It is essential to consider market conditions, relocation logistics, and the impact on the business before deciding to terminate the lease.

Notice Periods
Similar to landlords, tenants must carefully adhere to the notice requirements specified in the lease agreement. Failure to serve the notice within the specified timeframe could result in the continuation of the lease and the tenant will have to fulfil their obligations for the remaining term.

Seeking Legal Advice
Exercising a break clause can have significant implications for both landlords and tenants. Due to the complexity and potential risks involved, it is strongly recommended that clients seek professional legal advice before taking any action. An experienced solicitor with expertise in property law, such as myself, can review the lease, clarify obligations, and guide clients through the process, ensuring compliance with legal requirements and safeguarding their interests.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Property team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Solicitor Sara Butt

Is buying property at auction right for you?

Is buying property at auction right for you?

Buying property at auction can be a thrilling and potentially rewarding experience. However, it is important to be aware of the legal implications, rules and regulations, and possible risks involved in such a purchase. In this article, part two of a two-part auction series, we will explore the key considerations for anyone looking to buy property at an auction in the UK.

Understanding property auctions
Firstly, it is important to note that purchasing property at auction is a legally binding agreement. This means that once the hammer falls, the winning bidder is legally obliged to complete the purchase. Therefore, it is essential that you thoroughly research the property before making a bid. This should include a detailed inspection of the property, checking for issues or defects, and obtaining a copy of the legal pack.

What is the legal pack?
The legal pack will contain important information such as title deeds, searches, and any planning permission or building regulations that apply to the property. Instructing a solicitor or conveyancer to review the legal pack and provide you with their professional opinion on any potential issues or concerns is advisable.

Property law and auctions
It is also important to be aware of the UK’s rules and regulations surrounding property auctions. These will vary depending on the auctioneer and the type of auction being held. Typically, auctions are governed by the Auctioneers and Valuers Association (AVA) and the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers (NAVA). These bodies set standards for auctioneers and provide guidance on best practices.

Property auction process
When attending an auction, arriving early and registering your interest with the auctioneer is essential. You will be required to provide proof of identity and, in most cases, a deposit in order to bid. The deposit is typically 10% of the purchase price and must be paid immediately if you are the winning bidder.

It is important to set a budget before attending the auction, and stick to it. Auctions can be fast-paced and emotionally charged, so getting carried away and overbidding is easy. Also, remember that there may be additional costs on top of the purchase price, such as legal fees, stamp duty, and auction fees.

Should I buy property at auction?
The main benefit of buying property at auction is the potential to secure a bargain. However, it is important to be aware that risks are also involved. For example, the property may have hidden defects or be subject to restrictions that could affect its value or your ability to use it as intended.

It is important to approach it with caution and fully understand the legal implications, rules and regulations, and any risks involved. By doing your research and seeking professional advice, you can increase your chances of a successful and stress-free purchase.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Property team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Click here for part one of our auction series: “Is selling property at auction right for you?” 

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Solicitor Sara Butt

Is selling property at auction right for you?

Is selling property at auction right for you?

If you’re looking to sell property in the UK, you may have considered selling at auction. But is selling property at auction right for you? In this article, part one of a two-part auction series, we’ll explore the legal implications, rules and regulations, and important considerations when selling property at auction in the UK.

Property auction process
First, it’s important to understand the auction process. Auctions are typically held in a public venue or online and allow potential buyers to bid on the property. The highest bidder at the end of the auction is legally bound to purchase the property, provided the reserve price (the minimum price at which the property can be sold) is met.

What to know about selling property at auction
One of the biggest advantages of selling property at auction in this way is that it can be a quick and efficient process. Unlike traditional sales methods, which can take several months or even years, auctions are typically completed within a matter of weeks. Additionally, auctions can generate a lot of interest from potential buyers, leading to competitive bidding and potentially higher sale prices.

However, there are also potential disadvantages to selling property at auctions. For example, if the reserve price is not met, the property may not sell at all. Additionally, sellers may need to pay auction fees, which can vary depending on the auction house and the type of property being sold.

The legal side of selling property at auction
Before deciding whether to sell your property at auction, it’s important to consult with legal and financial professionals to fully understand the legal implications and costs involved. Here are some important legal considerations to keep in mind:

Contractual obligations
When you sell via an auction, you are entering into a legally binding contract with the highest bidder. It’s important to ensure that you have a clear understanding of your obligations and the buyer’s obligations under the contract.

Payment and completion
Once the auction is complete, the buyer is legally bound to pay the purchase price and complete the transaction within a set timeframe. It’s important to ensure that you have a clear understanding of these deadlines and any consequences for failure to comply.

Legal and financial advice
It can be a complex process, and it’s important to seek legal and financial advice to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations.

Rules and regulations
In addition to these legal considerations, there are several rules and regulations that govern property auctions in the UK. For example, auction houses are required to provide potential buyers with a buyer’s guide, which outlines the terms and conditions of the auction and any fees that may be charged.

Choosing an auction house
Finally, it’s important to choose the right auction house when selling your property. Look for an established auction house with a good reputation and experience selling properties similar to yours. Be sure to read reviews and ask for references before making a decision.

Selling property this way can be quick and efficient way, but it’s important to fully understand the legal implications, rules and regulations, and costs involved. Seek legal and financial advice, and choose the right auction house to ensure a successful sale.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Property team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Next week in part two of our auction series we ask: Is buying property at auction right for you?” 

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Quick Guide: Buying residential property as an individual or as a company

Quick Guide: Buying residential property as an individual or as a company

Download our free Quick Guide: Buying residential property as an individual or as a company covering:

  • Property Searches
  • SDLT and LTT
  • Mortgage Availability
  • Solicitors fees

Click here to download your free quick guide

This Quick Guide looks at the differences between purchasing a residential property as an individual or as a company.

To download your free copy simply complete the form below:



If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Property team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Legal Assistant – Fahmida Mustafa

What our recent recruits think – Fahmida Mustafa

Another in our series sharing the thoughts of our recent recruits, giving a great insight for any potential applicants into what it is like to apply for a position with us.

In this instalment we talk to Fahmida Mustafa who joined our Commercial Property team as a Legal Assistant in November 2021. We asked Fahmida:

Why did you decide to apply for your role with us?
I want a career in law and having completed my law degree, masters and LPC I wanted to join a law firm with a great reputation such as Cullimore Dutton. In terms of my specific role, I had studied commercial property as an elective on my LPC and it is an area of law which really interests me, so when I saw the role advertised on LinkedIn I knew it was the role for me.

How did you find the recruitment process?
Really simple, straight forward and very quick. I submitted my CV on a Friday, received a phone call the following Tuesday to arrange an interview for Thursday, I was offered the job Thursday evening and started in the office on the following Monday!

What have you enjoyed so far about your role and Cullimore Dutton?
How willing people are to help – I am conscious that many colleagues have 20 plus years’ experience to call upon whereas I am still very early in my career, it’s nice to be in an environment where you can ask questions and colleagues are not only keen to give you an answer, but also explain the reasoning behind it, so every day is a school day. I have been really impressed with the quality of our solicitors and the extensive knowledge they have. 

Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly – I feel comfortable being here. One thing I remember from my first day is that when I was given a tour and introduced to the whole team everyone greeted me with a smile, that has stuck with me.

What are your hopes and ambitions for your career?
I hope to earn a training contract and qualify as a solicitor, along the way I also hope to learn as much as I can from my colleagues so that I can become the best solicitor I can be.

Join Fahmida
We are currently recruiting for several positions, so if you are interested in joining Fahmida and the rest of our team visit the careers page of our website where you will be able to view our available roles and apply.

Ethan Cartwright

What our recent recruits think – Ethan Cartwright

We are continuing with our series sharing the thoughts of our recent recruits, giving a great insight for any potential applicants into what it is like to apply for a position with us.

In this third instalment we talk to Ethan Cartwright who joined our Residential Conveyancing team as a Legal Assistant in February 2022. We asked Ethan:

Why did you decide to apply for a role with us?
I actually didn’t apply for a role; having completed my law degree I was looking for some legal work experience and after some internet research I emailed my CV and asked if this was a possibility. I then got a phone call from Head of Conveyancing Sarah Davies, who told me that there were full-time positions available and invited me for a Zoom interview. This took place just a couple of days later following which I was offered the job. In total from sending an email to being offered a position was around two weeks, so really quick.

What if anything has surprised you since you joined?
With this being my first legal role, I wasn’t really sure what to expect and for me every day has been a school day – I have learnt so much! It is great that we are working with and learning from such skilled and experienced colleagues – the senior members of our team are always available and happy to help should we have any questions.

What have you enjoyed so far about working with your team?
Within our team there is a great atmosphere, and everyone is keen to help and support each other. We are always busy and there is obviously an expectation that we stay on top of the workload, but our room has a relaxed and friendly vibe.

Within our team It is really important that we all know and understand not only our own, but each other’s role, this enables us to not only share tasks and responsibilities, but also to learn from and to support each other effectively. The induction process was key to this, and I received loads of really useful training within my first few days and weeks.

What are your hopes and ambitions for your career?
In the short term I want to complete either my LPC or SQE and then longer term I want to qualify and have a career as a solicitor.

Join Ethan
We are currently recruiting for several positions, so if you are interested in joining Ethan and the rest of our team visit the careers page of our website where you will be able to view our available roles and apply.

Solicitor Sara Butt

Commercial Property change of use – what’s the process?

In a perfect world, you would be able to convert a commercial property from one type of business to another without having to jump through too many hoops or get tangled up in too much red tape.

Unfortunately, though, this world is far from perfect, and a commercial property change of use can involve a surprising amount of paperwork.

Ensuring you comply with building regulations, going through the planning permission minefield, and understanding the various building use ‘classes’ is vital.

So if you’ve just taken ownership of a new commercial property that used to be a factory, and you want to change it into an ultra-trendy ‘industrial-themed’ restaurant, what do you need to do? Indeed, what extra factors should you consider before making the purchase?

Know your ABC
Under the planning system, many buildings (both commercial and residential) fall into various ‘classes’ and are given a code to signify their lawful use. These are known as ‘use classes’. These use classes have recently been reviewed and a new Class E introduced. Class E includes various Commercial, Business and Service uses [including the previously revoked Classes A1/2/3]. The B2 (General Industrial), B8 (Storage) or C3 (Dwelling houses/residential housing) classes remain. Some buildings such as casinos, public houses and pay day loan shops are defined as suis generis uses and do not fall within a specific use class.

Every building has a designation, and it is possible in many cases to change their classification, depending on what the original use was, what you want to change it to and in some cases how your local authority views the proposed change.

Why are use classes so important?
A use class can be used to determine whether or not you can change a building’s use without the need to apply for planning permission and learning how to navigate your way around the various classes could make turning a building that used to be a pub into a hotel or restaurant, for example, much easier.

However, some changes of use will still need permission, so you’ll need to know exactly what classification the building currently falls under, as this will help determine whether a change of use requires planning permission.

How do I find out what my building classification is?
You can find a full list of use classes on the government’s planning portal, but it may take a little bit of investigation to determine exactly which class a building falls into, especially if it has had a variety of uses over the years. You can then check your own records, including deeds, land registry records and other official documents to determine the current classification. You can also get more information from the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 as amended, or contact your local council’s planning department, who may have records concerning the classification of your building.

What if the property was originally classified as residential?
If the building has a C3 (residential housing) classification, then getting it reclassified for commercial purposes may take some doing, especially if you’re right in the middle of a quiet domestic neighbourhood. You’ll need to check if the change of use requires planning permission. If so, go through the full process of applying to the planning department for permission for change of use. They could refuse this on the grounds of the impact it may have on your neighbours. Or they may find in your favour and allow you to change the use of the building, but with certain restrictions.

If your change of use is permitted under the Use Classes Order, then you will not need to make an application for prior approval or make a planning application. However, it’s important to do your homework thoroughly and don’t simply assume that your change of use is on the approved list. It can be very difficult to get retrospective planning permission for a change of use application, and if it’s declined then you would have to stop using the building for the new purpose which could be expensive, particularly if the local council were to bring enforcement proceedings. Be warned; most external building work associated with a change of use is also likely to require planning permission and therefore an application to your local planning authority.

If you have to put in a commercial property change of use application then it is likely to take at least 8 weeks for the planning permission process to go through, depending on the complexity of the project. Make sure you provide as much information as you can, and remember that the application will need to show that you’ve considered the potential impact on the local environment with regards to the increase in traffic or the requirement for public parking spaces and access for delivery vehicles. If you do need to go down this route then it’s essential that you talk to an expert in planning and property law, who will be able to take you through the process and help ensure every box is ticked to maximise the chances of your application being approved.

Is there anything else I need to think about?
Commercial Property change of use doesn’t just involve letting the local planning department know what you’re doing. You’ll need to consider other issues such as Building Regulations compliance. From fire doors to flame-retardant building materials, energy efficient lighting and public facilities, you’ll need to plan very carefully, especially if the public is going to be allowed access to your building.

If food preparation is part of the plan then hygiene will be a big factor. For example, if you’re turning a building that was previously residential into a public house then you’re going to need to install catering facilities that meet all current hygiene regulations.

You’ll also need to think about the type of building insurance you have, and a huge range of other considerations such as commercial waste management, any licences needed, business rates, and even how many toilets you have on-site to conform with Health & Safety requirements.

Make sure you’ve got a commercial property legal expert in your corner from the outset so things go as smoothly as possible.

For more information about our Commercial Property services, please contact a member of the Commercial Property team on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kara Nicholls

First Time Buyers Guide

Buying a home can be stressful, especially for first-time buyers, so it’s wise to do some research to ensure you know exactly what to expect. In this guide we share an overview of the process and do some jargon busting to help you enter the property market with confidence.

Conveyancing is the term that refers to the legal process of transferring one person’s property (the seller), to another (the buyer)

What does the process involve?
Put simply; this is what conveyancing looks like from start to finish:

  • Get your mortgage sorted out before you start looking, so you know what your budget is.
  • Go house hunting and find the property you want.
  • Put in an offer, i.e. tell the seller what you’re willing to pay for the property. This is also the time to raise any conditions you have.
  • Instruct your solicitor – our Conveyancing team has years’ of experience in helping clients buy and sell property.
  • The offer’s accepted. At this point, you’ll need a survey to check the property’s condition, and your solicitor will review any legal issues.The checks to be carried out by the Surveyor will include a wide range of examinations, including the structural integrity of the property, whether there’s any signs of subsidence, damp or damage, and whether there are any existing plans for the immediate area that may impact the property. Your solicitor will carry out searches with the local authority, Drainage and Water utilities and environmental bodies to find out the planning history of the property, if there are common drains that serve multiple properties, if there is any history of land contamination, or if you are responsible for any shared public access points. They’ll also look at the deeds and boundaries to check on rights and restrictions affecting the property and will raise a number of enquiries with your Seller’s solicitors – some standard e.g. to see if there are any disputes with neighbouring properties and others that are particular to the property you have chosen. If everything comes back okay, you can move onto the next level – buying your home.
  • Exchange: This is when you pay your deposit and fix a completion date, which means you can’t back out of the deal without losing a lot of money. To be in a position to exchange you must have a detailed mortgage offer in place, your Solicitor will check that all Lender conditions relating to the property can be satisfied. Some issues e.g. gifted deposits, plan or title discrepancies, lease terms etc may need to be reported to your lenders for them to approve before you can exchange. You should note that nobody is legally bound to complete the transaction until contracts are exchanged.
  • Completion: At this stage your solicitor will transfer the rest of the money from your lender in exchange for both the keys and the deeds. At this point, the property is legally yours.


Top Tips:
As part of the process, you will receive a list of fixtures and fittings the seller is willing to include within the cost of the property. If you are buying anything extra – tell your solicitor who will get this in writing. That way you’ll manage your expectations and won’t get a nasty surprise upon arrival.

Don’t book the removal van until the completion date has been fixed by way of exchange of Contracts. If you are doing a simultaneous exchange, and completion then be aware that there is risk in booking removals if the plans have to be changed or do not go ahead.

If anything changes in your circumstances after your mortgage offer has been issued you must tell you lender and your solicitors.

What is Gazumping?
This term refers to another buyer offering more money to the seller than you have, and the seller goes back on the deal you made. Sadly, you can’t legally protect yourself from this happening if this occurs prior to exchange. However, it’s always worth asking the seller to take the property off the market as part of your original offer. This rapidly reduces the likelihood of another buyer submitting a higher price.

What is Gazanging?
Gazanging is when the seller cancels the sale to stay in their property. This could occur when the market price shoots up as there’s a good chance the seller will make more money if they wait to sell in a few months’ time.

Finding a mortgage and doing all the checks
If you are buying a property, then make sure you’ve got your finances in place first. If you go house hunting before you’ve gone mortgage hunting, you’ll complicate the process, especially if you don’t get the full amount you need and have to scrabble around to make up the shortfall. Don’t automatically go with the first lender you find; mortgage products change almost daily. There are so many mortgage lenders out there, all hustling for your business, especially if you’ve got an excellent credit score. It’s almost inevitable that another lender will match your bank’s offer, or even try to tempt you with a better deal.

Always get a personalised mortgage illustration: this should highlight the important features of your mortgage. Taking out this kind of loan is a massive commitment, so do your due diligence and don’t sign up for anything you’ll regret later on. Remember, a mortgage typically lasts for 25 years, so this is a long-term commitment and not something to be rushed into without a lot of careful thought.

Once you’ve got your finances straight, it’s time to…

Choose Your Conveyancing Specialist
You need a Solicitor, Legal executive or a Licensed conveyancer who is qualified in property law. They’ll handle all the paperwork and conduct the necessary searches to satisfy both the Land Registry and local council. They’ll also:

  • Draft the contract
  • Manage the exchange of money between the buyer and the seller

Top Tip: A cheap conveyancing fee will probably mean that the majority of your work is being carried out by someone who is not qualified. Money is nearly always tight for first time buyers but don’t choose a firm on price alone. Reputation is key as is personal recommendation.

Ask who is going to be carrying out the work for you and what their experience and qualifications are.

It’s recommended that you find a legal expert who is familiar with conveyancing early on. Ideally find someone who is local (either to you or the property or is known to family and friends) and willing to communicate with you in a way that works for you. This makes the process a whole lot smoother and helps to ensure everything goes through as quickly as possible.

For more information about our Residential Conveyancing services, please contact a member of the Residential Conveyancing team on: 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.




Patricia Taylor

Patricia Taylor appointed to the role of Trainee Solicitor

We are delighted to announce that Patricia Taylor has been awarded a training contract here at Cullimore Dutton and will take up the role of Trainee Solicitor with immediate effect.

Patricia, who studied for both the Graduate Law Diploma (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law, joined the Utilities team in February 2021 as a Paralegal, and is a talented individual with immense potential who we hope will have a long and successful career here at Cullimore Dutton.

Upon joining our business, Patricia stated her desire to secure a training contract and ultimately qualify as a solicitor. Patricia is a diligent legal professional who puts clients’ needs at the forefront of everything she does, and this promotion is reward for her professional attitude, hard work and commitment.

Patricia’s appointment to this position follows the awarding of a training contract to Trainee Family Law Solicitor Jesca Knott in April 2021. Both appointments are clear examples of the career pathway which is available to all our team and further demonstrates our commitment to changing the lives of our Colleagues, Clients and Community. We hope many of our colleagues follow in Patricia and Jesca’s footsteps and advance through our career pathway during their time with us.

We would like to wish Patricia every success as she begins this new chapter of her career, and to offer our continuing support to her throughout her training and beyond.

Good luck Patricia.
The Cullimore Dutton team