Have Your Say


In December 2017 the government put a stop to the sale of new leasehold houses in England. Ten months later, a consultation is finally taking place.

Leasehold Reform

The Government launched a new consultation on their plans for leasehold reform on Monday 15 October and will run for six weeks. 

The plan proposes that almost all new-build houses will in future have to be sold as freehold, and ground rents will be capped at just £10 a year.

This latest technical consultation will seek views on how to implement these reforms to the leasehold system and Estate Agents are among those specifically invited to comment.

This is a highly complex area and it is important that we get the detail right. If you have any thoughts on changes to be made, now is the time to get your views heard.  You can access the consultation here.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those selling new build and leasehold properties.

If you would like to speak to our team of specialist Property Solicitors to discuss your conveyancing needs, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your case and arrange a callback.

House for Sale


Sellers and landlords should take care when providing replies to enquiries and ensure full disclosure is made as the buyer is likely to place reliance on it.

The case of First Tower Trustees Limited -v- CDS (Superstores International) Limited (2017) highlighted that it would be unreasonable for a seller to seek to exclude responsibility and liability by including (on replies to pre-contract enquiries) a non-reliance clause in the contract or lease.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that a buyer should be able to rely on pre-contract enquiries in conveyancing transactions. If a non-reliance clause overrides replies given to those enquiries, then they would become worthless.

Sellers should be reminded to be frank in completing their paperwork and when replying to queries raised of them and to ensure that if during the transaction there are changes to replies previously given, should be disclosed to the buyer.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including Sellers and Landlords who are trying to sell their properties.

Our team of specialist Property Solicitors are on hand to help you with any conveyancing transaction advice you may need.  Don't delay call our team today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your requirement and arrange a callback.




The requirements leading to the serving of a section 21 notice changed on 1 October 2018 and apply to all assured shorthold tenancies from this date.

There are various pre-conditions to serving a section 21 notice under the new procedure.  A section 21 notice can not be served unless the landlord has provided the tenant with a valid EPC, Gas Safety Certificate and prescribed information by way of the Government’s How to Rent booklet before the tenancy begins.

The landlord must also comply with Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) legislation. The landlord must set up a TDP account to protect the deposit within 30 days of receipt of the money.

We Can Help

Section 21 notices and the ending of tenancy agreements can be much more complex than they first appear.

At MW Solicitors our specialist Landlord and Tenant Team are here to guide landlords through each step of the process.  Don't delay call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your requirement and arrange a callback.

Shared Ownership


Recent changes to the Government's affordable home ownership schemes eligibility criteria mean that households earning less than £80,000 (or £90,00 in London) now have the opportunity to become homeowners. 

Duncan Hall
Duncan Hall
Partner & Head of Shared Ownership

Wesley Moodie
Wesley Moodie
Licensed Conveyancer - Head of Greater London Shared Ownership

Shared Ownership Becoming More Popular

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average price of a starter home now costs £140,000.  As a result Shared Ownership properties are increasingly being seen as an essential first step onto the housing ladder. 

Analysis of the latest data from the Housing and Communities Agency shows that in 2016 sales of Low-Cost Homeownership (LCHO) properties in England and Wales rose by 26% and by 36% in London and The South East.

Dedicated and Expert Shared Ownership Solicitors

Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will ever make and choosing the right Solicitor to help you is critical. 

At MW Solicitors we understand that the process of buying a home on a shared ownership or affordable ownership scheme is often much more complicated.

Our dedicated team of shared ownership experts is ready and waiting to guide you through the Shared Ownership Buying Process.  They can help with every aspect of Affordable Home Ownership including:

  • Shared ownership New Build and Resale purchases
  • Resale sales
  • Staircasing - the process of buying the remaining shares in your home
  • Reverse staircasing - the process of reducing your share of ownership in your home
  • Remortgages

We Can Help

Our Shared Ownership Department specialises in this sector of the property market.  We can help you to realise your dream of owning your own home. 

Call our specialist Affordable New Build property solicitors today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

London Skyline

The government has announced a crackdown on unfair and abusive practices within the leasehold system which looks to include a ban on almost all leaseholds for new build houses, and a zero ground rent on long residential leasehold flats.  It is also thought that the government will introduce measures to make it easier and fairer for leaseholders to acquire their freeholds from their landlords.

The Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 and the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 before it gave leaseholders the right, subject to certain requirements, to extend their leases by a prescribed term or to compulsorily acquire the freehold of their building. However, a booming property market, particularly in London and the South East, has meant that the premiums being paid to landlords and the costs of exercising these rights has become prohibitive for many leaseholders.

With mortgage lenders becoming increasingly risk averse and raising the bar on the minimum lease terms they will accept, being the owner of the diminishing asset which is their lease is becoming an expensive business.

The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid said:

“It’s unacceptable for home buyers to be exploited through unnecessary leaseholds, unjustifiable charges and onerous ground rent terms. It’s clear from the overwhelming response from the public that real action is needed to end these feudal practices. That’s why the measures this government is now putting in place will help create a system that actually works for consumers.”

The measures proposed by the government follow a recent consultation and plans set out in the housing white paper and will be followed by legislation in the coming months/years.  This promises to be an interesting time for leasehold reform, a time which many will argue is very long overdue. How far the government will go in changing leasehold practices remains to be seen, however the appetite for change to the leasehold system in England grows more and more demanding and is a topic which will not go unaddressed for very much longer.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Landlords and Tenants who wish to negotiate lease extension terms.

Our specialist Leasehold Enfranchisement Solicitors are a team of highly skilled with years of experience in both Voluntary and Statutory Lease Extensions.  If you are considering a lease extension or would like to discuss the specifics of your extension call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

new home

As a first time buyer, the news from today’s budget might have been just the sign you needed that this was the right time to take the leap and make your first house purchase. 

Specialists in Residential Property

With MW, you can be confident that your Solicitor will completely understand and be sympathetic to your needs as a first time buyer, including complete command of these tax changes and how they affect you.

If you had been on the fence about taking a step up the housing ladder or selling an investment property, this change might allow you to command a higher selling price.  If you do feel inspired to take the leap, you can be assured that our specialist teams are completely on top of the detail and will ensure your sale process goes smoothly.

Why are we so confident? 

The fact is that more than half of our branch offices (fifteen to be precise!) are located in areas where the average house price is approximately £500k or less, meaning that we have long operated in areas where we work with clients on transactions such as these.  In fact, we are the in the top three largest property solicitors in sixteen of the areas in which we operate (according to Land Registry information). 

Google us, ask your friends about us, and visit Your Local Office, to see if we are the right fit for you. 

We look forward to working with you.  Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Keep Out

Jessica Piper-Thompson, Solicitor and Head of Property Litigation, Wessex Region discusses the latest case law arising from Rights of Way Disputes

The Background

Jessica Piper-Thompson
Jessica Piper-Thompson
Solicitor - Head of Property Litigation - South West

The case of Winterburn v Bennett [2016] EWCA Civ 482 raised an issue as to the steps which a landowner must take to prevent others using the land, without permission, from acquiring rights over the land.

The Winterburns own and run a fish and chip shop which is next to a privately owned car park.  They have run the chip shop since 1987.  Up until 2012, when they were prevented from doing so, suppliers would park on the car park for as long as it took to make their deliveries to the chip shop.  The car park was also used by the chip shop’s customers.

The car park, together with the club house on the far side of it, was owned by the Conservative Club Association until 2010 when it was purchased by the Bennetts.

The Association put signs in the window of the club house and on a wall fronting the car park, stating that the car park was private and was for the use of patrons of the club house only.  The sign on the wall was in place until the wall was demolished in 2007.  The steward of the Association had told the Winterburns, their suppliers and customers that they had no right to park on the car park; however neither the signs nor the steward’s assertions deterred them.

The Dispute

The Bennetts rented out the car park and club house in 2012.  Their tenant obstructed access to the car park from the road, which the Winterburns were not happy about.

The Winterburns claimed that they had acquired what is known as a ‘prescriptive right of way’ for the benefit of the chip shop, over part of the car park, by virtue of the fact that they had used it for 20 years or more, as of right (i.e. without force, secrecy or permission). 

The Winterburns’ did not have permission to use the car park and they had not done so secretly.  In this case, it was the element of ‘without force’ that was in issue.  The Winterburns would have to demonstrate that their use was not ‘under protest’.  Did the circumstances suggest that the owner of the car park objected, and continued to object, to the unlawful use by the Winterburns?  Was it necessary for the owner of the car park to take steps, through physical means or legal proceedings, to prevent the Winterburns from using the car park in the way they did? Or, were the signs, which stated that the car park was private property, enough to make the Winterburns’ use of it contentious?

The Decision

This may sound as though it should be fairly straight forward, but it was not.  The case was first heard by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), who held that the Winterburns had established their claim to parking rights, then that decision was overturned by the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber), who’s decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal decided that signs displayed on land indicating that the land is for private use only are sufficient to prevent someone from claiming a prescriptive right over the land, even where the signs are completely ignored for the prescriptive period and no steps are taken by the landowners to enforce their rights.

The Court found that it was not necessary for the owners, having made their protest clear, to take further steps or to be put to the time, expense and trouble of legal proceedings.
Lord Justice David Richards acknowledged that “[t]here is a social cost to confrontation and, unless absolutely necessary, the law of property should not require confrontation in order for people to retain and defend what is theirs.  The erection and maintenance of an appropriate sign is a peaceful and inexpensive means of making clear that property is private and not to be used by others.”


If you own land or property that may be accessible to others and which others’ use of is difficult to control or police, it is worth giving careful consideration to putting up some well-placed, carefully worded signs in prominent positions to make it clear that your property is private and is not to be used by others.  Such a straightforward step might save you from inadvertently allowing others to acquire rights over your land, by virtue of long user (i.e. 20 years or more).
If you are concerned that others have been using your land or property unlawfully over a period of time, avoid the trap created by complacency and seek advice as to whether you can prevent them from acquiring prescriptive rights over the land.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including landowners who are in dispute with others over prescriptive rights to use parts of their property.

Our dedicated Property Litigation Team have the experience and knowledge to help you to resolve your issues in an efficient and timely manner.  If you have an rights of way issue you would like to discuss with our team call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

The shocking headline and nightmare scenario facing one family in Cornwall is not as unusual as you might think.  According to British Geological Survey records, 20 sinkholes formed in February 2014 alone, some of which opened up in densely populated urban areas in and around Greater London.

Sinkholes form for a variety of reasons, but undertaking a geological survey as part of your search package when you buy your home is one way of mitigating the risk.  If you are a homeowner affected this can be a costly oversight.   

Anton Osborne, Partner & Divisional Partner, Property  says:

"At MW we strongly recommend that specific and appropriate searches are taken out in respect of all conveyancing transactions.  Where properties are in certain areas we would always recommend taking out extra searches to associated with specific risks in those areas.  As can clearly be seen in this case trying to save money on searches is a false economy.  Houses are usually the most expensive purchases anyone ever undertakes and therefore we would encourage our clients to be as thorough as possible in respect of their due diligence including taking out searches, full surveys and not simply relying on mortgage lender valuations." 

Maria Christoforou, Partner & Head of Property Law adds:

"It is essential that the right type of searches and a survey are carried out on a property to identify any potential problems or issues.  The cost of carrying out appropriate searches is very low when weighed up against the potential devastating consequences which could have actually cost someone their life in this case."

We Can Help

At MW we offer our clients a comprehensive range of searches to give them piece of mind.  If you are considering a property purchase or would like to talk to one of our specialist solicitors regarding our search packages call us today on 0203 5512 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

Protected Tree

What is a Tree Preservation Order?

A TPO is a written order which, in general, makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by that order, or to cause or permit such actions, without the Local Authority’s permission.  The principal purpose of a Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) is to preserve trees which are normally located on privately owned land.

Dan Carter
Dan Carter
Partner & Head of Professional Negligence

All types of tree (but not hedges, bushes or shrubs) can be protected, and a TPO can protect anything from a single tree to all the trees within a defined area or woodland.  There is no statutory definition of what constitutes a “tree” and specialist advice should always be sought before any planned works take place on protected vegetation.

Who Makes These Orders?

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012. Planning conditions are normally conditions which are applied when planning applications affect existing trees - they are normally only temporary (for up to two years) but some last for longer, and indeed some have no time limit at all, so even if your tree is in an area where no planning permission has been granted recently it is worth checking.

How Do I Find out if a Tree on My Property Has a TPO?

The starting point would be the Gov.uk website which allows a householder to check the status of trees and this can be done prior to the purchase of the property by prospective buyers.  However, some TPO date back to 1949 and there is the possibility that Local Authority records may not be accurate.  A TPO should show up on the Local Land Charge search that your Solicitor undertakes but this is not always the case.

I'm Buying a House Which Has a TPO What Should I Do?

If you are thinking of buying a property or land with which there may be an issue concerning a tree preservation order it may affect the value or restrict the way in which you use your home now and in the future.  Whether the property is in a city such as London or Brighton or in the countryside, our team of experienced residential conveyancing Solicitors can help.

My House Has a Tree Protected by a TPO What Can I Do?

If you are already the property owner you need to be aware that anyone found guilty of such the offences listed above is liable. In serious cases the case may be dealt with in the Crown Court where an unlimited fine can be imposed. If notice of the TPO has not been served on the landowner (and in many cases it has not, or records of the service were not kept), then they may genuinely be unaware of the protection.

In such a case, although an offence may still have been committed, it is likely that any penalty would be less severe than otherwise.  However, if the felling or lopping was necessary for the prevention of a nuisance there will be no offence.  In either case, MW's has experienced civil litigation Solicitors who can help you to resolve the matter.

What Is a Section 221 Notice and How Do I Apply?

Normal TPO procedures apply if a tree in a conservation area is already protected by a TPO, but if a tree in a conservation area is not covered by a TPO you must give written notice to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) of any proposed work, describing what you want to do, at least six weeks before the work starts.

This is called a “section 211 notice” and it gives the LPA an opportunity to consider protecting the tree with a TPO.

If the Local Authority decides to lift the TPO, the usual reason is if there has been some mistake in the making of the Order and a new one is needed to correct it.

Can I Do Works on a Tree Protected by a TPO?

If you want to do works to the trees, don't try to remove the TPO, you only need to apply to the Local Authority for permission to do the works. If you've got a good enough reason then the Local Authority will allow it. If not, they won't.

If the TPO is confirmed it can be modified in the confirmation process and you should seek specialist advice before submitting the notice to avoid missing this opportunity.

If the Local Authority refuse unreasonably, there is an appeal process which is set out in the law and damages can be claimed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which normally takes place in the Lands Tribunal.

Landowners should always consider having a survey carried out on the number of trees within an area identified within a TPO, particularly if it is likely that the existing density of trees within the woodland is less than may be assessed by standard planting densities.

If you're in any doubt as to how to do this, call our specialist solicitors who are experienced in dealing with Local Planning Authorities, and they can submit an application for you.

I Have a TPO on My Property and My Conveyancer Didn't Find It When I Bought My House, What Can I Do?

If you bought a property and subsequently discovered that there is a TPO in place that you cannot lift or modify and it was in place when you bought the property, you may be able to make a claim for professional negligence.

You must be able to demonstrate that the omission of the TPO has caused you loss.  

The Court will need to establish that the conveyancer owed "a Duty of Care" to you as the buyer and will consider if:

  1. The damage was foreseeable.
  2. There was a relationship of proximity between the parties.
  3. The imposition of a duty is fair, just and reasonable.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission, is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including property owners who want to get a TPO lifted or have discovered a TPO on their property as a result the negligence of their conveyancer.  Our team of dedicated solicitors have many years of experience dealing with TPOs and Professional Negligence matters.

If you wish to have a free initial discussion about your TPO matter call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Do you want to be out of pocket by paying the chancellor an additional 3% in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when you buy your investment or newly build property? 

If the answer to that is NO!, then you need to ACT NOW to try to ensure you complete before the end 1st of April 2016 when the new rules Stamp Duty rates come into effect. 

How Much Will the New Rates Cost Me

The new rates could mean you pay much more than you bargained on:

Value of second property Current SDLT SDLT from 1 April 2016 Increase in tax
£150,000 £500 £5,000 £4,500
£250,000 £2,500 £10,000 £7,500
£350,000 £7,500 £18,000 £10,500
£450,000 £12,500 £26,000 £13,500

How MW Can Help

At MW solicitors, we have a team of lawyers who specialise in acting for buyers of brand new properties.  We are used to dealing with buyers who need to process their transactions quickly.

Don't delay, call our Head of New Build, Guy Fernback direct on 020 7186 7085 or email him at Guy.Fernback@mwsolicitors.co.uk

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