Land Development


New rules under section 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 came into force on 1 October 2018 which mean planning permission for the development of land may not be granted subject to pre-commencement conditions without the prior written agreement of the applicant.

What are Pre-Commencement Conditions?

Pre-commencement conditions are those conditions on a planning permission which must be fulfilled before work starts on site or before the use of land changes. Developers and landowners could refuse the imposition of pre-commencement conditions where they believe it is unwarranted or impractical.

Local Planning Authorities will have to give notice of their intention to attach pre-commencement conditions to a planning permission, setting out the text of the condition, the reason for it including an explanation why it is a pre-commencement condition and when a response from the applicant must be received by.

The exception where planning permission may be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition without the applicant’s written agreement is if the applicant has been notified of the intention to impose a pre-commencement condition and has not responded by the date specified in the notice.

This means those who are intending to carry out development work should speak to a planning and specialist solicitor as early as possible to negotiate their conditions.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who are developing land or those who need advice on how to apply for planning permission.

Our specialist Property Solicitors can advise on all aspects of the planning system and can help to guide you through the Planning Permission Application.  Don't delay, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your case and arrange a callback.

Houses of Multiple Occupancy


On 1 October 2018, the Government introduced new rules making changes to the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) meaning that more properties are now covered under the HMO scheme.

What is New?

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England Order) 2018 revokes the previous Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England Order) 2006 making mandatory HMO licensing applicable to smaller HMO properties which are only one or two storeys high.

The 2006 Order previously imposed regulation on properties over three stories high. Any property now with five or more people who form two or more separate households and meets the 2006 “standard” test, the “converted building” test or the “self contained flat” test will be caught.

Where a property subject to numerous tenancies, checks will need to made to see if:

  • They are caught by the new HMO scheme
  • The appropriate licence has been obtained
  • All licensing conditions have been adhered to

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those landlords who may fall under the new HMO rules.

Our team of specialist Landlord and Tenant Solicitors recommend legal advice at an early stage to avoid falling foul of an increasingly complex regulatory regime.  Don't delay, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your case and arrange a callback.


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 use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

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 use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

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 use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

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


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 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

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