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Commercial Property, Pubs and HMOs – Advice for Builders

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As the High Street evolves and pubs continue to close, there are an increasing number of smaller builders looking to convert commercial properties into apartments or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). So what advice can a commercial property solicitor offer them?

“Ideally our commercial clients should approach us for advice once they identify their target property, so we can work with them throughout the development process,” said Paul McGladdery, Commercial Property Legal Executive at Pearson Solicitors.

“With one such client, we advised on the planning process with the local authority, conditional contracts with the seller, HMO licensing with the local authority and ultimately the sale of the property,”  he added.

Converting a Commercial Property

Potential developers of former commercial premises should consider:

  • Planning permission – Don’t assume ‘change of use’ will be granted by the local planning authority. There are numerous policies regarding the conversion of the property to be considered by the Council before an application is approved. It is recommended to open a dialogue with the planning officers as soon as possible to get their view on your application.
  • Restrictive covenants – These are restrictions upon the use of a property, usually imposed by a seller following a sale to protect an existing adjoining business or to prevent nuisance trades or occupation for the benefit of the neighbourhood. It is rare to see freehold covenants restricting residential use, but in some leases of commercial premises it is more common.
  • Local pub protection policy – This is a local authority scheme to safeguard pubs against a change of use.
  • HMO licensing – If you intending to create bed sits or studio flats with some shared facilities, a licence may be required from the local authority to confirm you have complied with safety regulations required for houses in multiple occupations.
  • Selective Licensing – This affects private landlords if you intend to retain your investment post development. The local authority will identify certain areas has requiring Selective Licences due to previous poor management and property standards.

For advice on a commercial property transaction and the legal implications contact the commercial property team on 0161 785 3500.  For your added peace of mind, Pearson Solicitors is an accredited member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) email the team enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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