Our social housing clients come to us for our leading reputation in the areas in which they most need advice. We understand their sector and the changes and challenges they face and we are able to use our experience and clear thinking to help them meet their objectives and remain “on mission”.

We work with social housing providers of all sizes and across all parts of the country, with a particular focus on London and the south east.

Governance and regulation

Our market-leading charity lawyers advise on governance and regulation, including the status of social housing providers and compliance with the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. We understand the requirements of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Charity Commission, and are used to working with our clients’ boards, executive teams and committees.

We also provide board effectiveness training through our governance consultancy, Onboard.

Employment and HR issues

We are uniquely knowledgeable on the complex employment issues that are specific to social housing providers. We are also sensitive to delivering advice that fits within our clients’ specific values and ethos, but that is also commercially sensible – enabling clients to make the necessary decisions to support managers in delivering active performance management of staff.

We provide advice, support, training and representation. We also undertake HR audits, ranging from a review of your terms and conditions and policies, to identifying potentially discriminatory practices and working with you to resolve them.

Finance and funding

We have long standing relationships with banks which lend into the social housing sector, negotiating loan and security documentation for facilities of up to £60m and preparing and reviewing certificates of title.

Our lender clients include:

• Santander UK plc
• Lloyds Bank plc
• The Co-operative Bank plc
• Charity Bank Limited
• Unity Trust Bank plc
• Triodos Bank NV
• Coutts Bank plc
• Svenska Handlesbanken AB

Property securitisation

Our Real Estate team are able to offer a property securitisation service to social housing providers, large and small. The team has acted on all aspects of social housing securitisation including charging properties to long dated loan facilities and private placements along with working on unsecured private placements. Our services include pre-charging properties in readiness for future charging and dealing with any property deficiencies such as preparing deeds of variation for defective section 106 agreements. We are able to advise on property documentation as to its suitability for charging to a lender prior to execution of the documents or purchase of the property.

Asset and liability registers

Asset and Liability Registers have become increasingly important to registered providers since the HCA made it a requirement for each registered provider to have one. We are able to advise on how best to set up your register and undertake this work for you. Further if you already have a register in place we are able to provide an independent review and express an opinion on the suitability of the register from a regulator perspective.

Social impact

Our Advisory & Impact consultants work with social housing providers to plan and achieve impact by research and measurement, outcomes-based planning and strategy, and delivering social investment and social finance solutions.

We are currently acting as financial adviser to one of London’s largest social housing providers to support the development of a social impact bond (SIB). Market testing research and a feasibility and funding options appraisal will be followed by legal advice on the most appropriate structure for the SIB.

Data Protection and Freedom of Information

We are acknowledged leaders in the field for data protection law and can advise social housing providers on all aspects of data privacy compliance, including communications with tenants and data collection statements, data protection policies, data sharing and agreements with suppliers and data protection audits. We are advising many organisations in their preparation for the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation which will come into force in the UK in May 2018.

Intellectual Property

Brands and IP are increasingly important to social housing providers. They are a symbol of quality and differentiation in a crowded market. They also have the power to bolster communities and therefore transform the lives of tenants. We can provide a full range of IP services including advising on licensing, registration and disputes. We also have our own in-house patent and trade mark attorneys who handle UK, European and overseas pre-filing searches, registrations and oppositions.

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