Lifting the lid on the Queen’s £12 billion commercial property portfolio

Lifting the lid on the Queen’s £12 billion commercial property portfolio

 

It’s estimated that Queen Elizabeth II is worth around £340 million. And while it’s well known that she’s the custodian of much of our royal heritage, including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Hillsborough Castle, she has also acquired a substantial commercial property portfolio during her 63 years on the throne. We take a look at what she owns.

The Queen seems to be an astute investor in commercial property and has doubled her portfolio within the last ten years. Her interests, represented by The Crown Estate Company, include, among other things, Windsor Great Park, Regent Street, farmland and most of the seabed around these islands. Let’s take a more detailed look.

In London

Regent Street: One of the prime retail and commercial office areas of London, its occupants include Liberty, Hamley’s, and Apple’s first European flagship store. It was originally designed by John Nash in the 19th century, and Her Majesty owns 1.2 miles of it. When the 100 year leases began to run out in the early part of this century, Crown Estates began an ambitious £1 billion regeneration project. Luxury brand names flocked to the prestigious address and began a process which would turn it into one of the world’s favourite retail destinations. It even has its own app.

St James’: The Queen owns almost half the buildings in the St James’ area, which includes over 4 million sq ft of prime office, retail and residential space, worth over £1 billion. The area, which includes Piccadilly Circus, The Ritz, Trafalgar Circus and St James’ Palace, is currently undergoing a £500 million refurbishment programme. Her portfolio here includes rental properties, from studio apartment to penthouses, in some of London’s premier addresses.

Kensington Palace Gardens & Regent’s Park: Dubbed ‘Millionaire’s Row’ the properties which the Queen owns in Kensington Palace Gardens are classed as some of London’s most prestigious addresses. They include a number of foreign embassies and consulates and are regarded as some of the most beautiful Georgian and Victorian villas in the capital. She also owns around 600 properties in Regent’s Park which are privately leased.

Outside London

Shopping centres: The Queen owns several shopping centres throughout the UK including Fosse Shopping Park, Leicester, Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford, Silverlink Shopping Park, Newcastle, Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter, The Coliseum Shopping Park, Cheshire Oaks, and The Gate in Newcastle.

Industrial: Her Majesty’s regional portfolio also includes industrial warehousing such as White Lodge Business Estate in Norwich, as well as the Magna Park distribution warehouse in Milton Keynes which is currently let to the John Lewis Partnership.

Offshore

The Crown Estate manages the seabed around the UK up to the 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit and therefore holds the rights to develop renewable energy within what’s known as the renewable energy zone (REZ). So far this year, it’s estimated that offshore wind farms have generated 18.6 TWh of electricity, which is 3.1% of the electricity currently generated in the UK. The Queen also has interests in onshore renewables, wave and tidal, carbon capture and storage and natural gas storage.

The Crown Estates estimates that in 2015/16 its net revenue profit was up by 6.7% to £304.1 million and that the Queen’s extensive commercial property portfolio has contributed £2.4 billion to the nation’s coffers over the past ten years.

If you’re interested in expanding your commercial property portfolio, perhaps not to the extent the Queen has achieved, talk to a member of our team. We have experience of sourcing, managing and disposing of a wide range of commercial property opportunities throughout the UK.

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Friday 25/11/2016

 

Key Health & Safety rules to be aware of with commercial property

Key Health & Safety rules to be aware of with commercial property

 

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, Health & Safety awareness within a commercial property environment is essential. We take a look at the most important H&S rules to be aware of.

The rules

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for implementing all the rules which keep people safe while they’re at their place of work. In the last year, 144 people were fatally injured at work mostly due to falling from heights, being struck by vehicles or being hit by moving objects. Many more suffered non-fatal injuries such as falls, slips and trips. Health and Safety legislation is designed to protect against such accidents and minimise their occurrence.

Strict penalties are imposed on those who allow, through negligence, accidents to occur – the most severe of which can result in two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, under the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008. It’s in everyone’s best interest, therefore, to comply with the rules.

Fire Safety: For Landlords

If the lease stipulates you as being responsible for safety on your commercial premises, it will fall to you to implement a health and safety risk assessment to determine possible fire risks within the building. The HSE has guidance on how this can be approached on its website.

Fire Safety: For Tenants

Most leases will state that fire safety is your responsibility – check through the details carefully before you sign it. If it is, you must carry out a fire risk assessment in order to protect yourself and those people working for you.

Asbestos: For Landlords

Once a popular fire-retardant material, asbestos is now regarded as a major risk to health, causing lung diseases which are often untreatable. If your building dates from before the mid-80s there is a possibility that it may contain asbestos – a survey will clarify the situation. Again, the lease you draw up will state who has responsibility for maintaining a building which contains asbestos, but if it is found on the premises, a thorough risk assessment will be necessary. Strict penalties for not managing its risk can be incurred.

Asbestos: For Tenants

If you suspect that the premises you are renting contains asbestos you must check your lease to see if you are responsible for maintenance and repair. If it is unclear, the law will state that the party with the ‘greatest degree of control’ over the building has a legal duty to establish the presence of asbestos in order for a risk assessment or remedial work to be undertaken.

Electricity: For Landlords

Unless you are supplying electrical equipment to tenants, your main responsibility will be to ensure that the wiring in your premises is safe and fit for purpose. This will mean having a certified safety check undertaken before the premises is let.

Electricity: For Tenants

You must undertake a risk assessment of the equipment you intend to use on your rented premises and ensure that none of the equipment is faulty or is likely to cause harm. Check that your lease explicitly outlines your landlord’s responsibility for the maintenance of the wiring, and that he or she can provide a safety certificate.

Gas: For Landlords

If you supply any gas appliances to your tenants, such as water heaters, it is your responsibility to ensure that they have certified annual checks to guarantee their safety. Otherwise, you must ensure that, if your building has common areas, the heating equipment there is well maintained.

Gas: For Tenants

Generally it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of gas appliances in commercial buildings that you occupy. This includes appliances, pipe work and flues. Your lease should set out your exact responsibilities so it’s important that you understand what these entail.

Landlords and tenants alike must be absolutely clear what their responsibilities are for the health and safety of anyone who occupies a commercial property. To prevent injury or death and to avoid a large fine or possible imprisonment, leases should clearly outline who is accountable for each aspect of H&S. If you need help drawing up a lease or interpreting its clauses, or if you need guidance on any aspect of Health and Safety, contact a member of our team.

 

Written by: Joseph Fitzsimmons on Friday 14/10/2016

 

What do tenants need to consider when coming to the end of a commercial lease?

What do tenants need to consider when coming to the end of a commercial lease?

 

Commercial leases come to an end for all sorts of reasons – sometimes they die a natural death after the term has expired and the tenant wishes to move on; other times it’s a more abrupt ending. Writing your exit strategy into your business plan will help you cope with every eventuality. Here are our suggestions for things you need to think about it when the time is right.

The type of lease

It’s important to check the lease before you sign it, to establish which type of lease you are committing to. A Protected Lease means that you have protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This means that you have security of tenure (permission to stay) after the end date has passed, with agreement from both parties, until one of you decides to break the lease. In this case, a reasonable period of notice (most experts say that between 6 and 8 months is acceptable) must be given by either side.

An Excluded Lease does not offer the protection of The 1954 Act meaning that the tenant does not have security and can be vulnerable to short-notice lease termination.

It’s in your own best interests, therefore, to find out what type of lease you’re signing and make plans for the end of it – however long away that is.

Other considerations

Check your break options!

It’s important to understand what you have to do to make your break legal. If you don’t adhere to these, to the letter, your break notice may be invalid and you may find yourself still liable for paying rent, VAT, service charges etc after you leave the premises for the last time. So make sure that you are up to date with the rent, that you have paid any VAT or service charges that are due right up until the day your lease breaks.

Your lease may also advise you that you must give vacant possession by the break date, so if you’ve sublet your commercial premises or you wish to pass the lease on to someone else, you must seek legal advice about your situation and discuss it with the landlord. You may be required to act as a guarantor in the case of passing on.

Check your covenants!

Your lease will probably require you to repair and reinstate the property to the state in which you found it. It is your responsibility to do so before your lease expires as you have no legal right to return to the property once it has. Again, common sense should tell you that proper planning must be made for such repairs and reinstatements, a timescale outlined and a budget put aside to deal with any that must be made. If you’ve made alterations to the premises (with your landlord’s permission, of course!), they can legally require you to reinstate the building to how it was before to enable them to offer a blank canvass to their next tenant.

When a lease comes to an end and a tenant moves on, it can be an easy thing or a hard one, depending on how you plan and communicate with your landlord. Don’t leave it all to the last minute and make sure you start the negotiations early to avoid any costly litigation. If you need advice about your course of action when your lease is coming to an end, contact a member of our team.

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Wednesday 05/10/2016

 

Understanding the different types of commercial property surveys

Understanding the different types of commercial property surveys

 

An understanding of the different types of commercial property surveys which are available will help you decide which one you need, and why you need it. We take a look at the variety on offer.

Introduction

Commercial property surveys differ from domestic ones in many regards, not least of which is that they are more comprehensive and concentrate on more than a simple monetary valuation. They are also highly-specific in respect of the client’s commercial needs. For anyone involved in commercial property, as a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, here is our brief guide to the three most important types of survey.

Building survey

For those interested in purchasing a commercial property, a building survey will provide a detailed report on the condition of a building, highlighting any defects, outlining the current condition and advising if any maintenance will be required in the future. The report will state what the building is constructed from, whether that be steelwork, reinforced concrete, traditional brick etc, and point out if any hazardous material, such as asbestos, is present.

Because of the nature of commercial leases, whereby a tenant is often liable for repairs to the premises, a building survey is essential to clarify in detail the condition of the building and its component parts. Suggestions for remedial works may also be given in the report. For tenants, it is important to understand future repair liabilities and how the implications of this can affect lease negotiations and for those wishing to purchase a property, it can assist with the possibility of a lower price being accepted by the vendor.

Schedule of condition

For both property owners and new tenants, a schedule of condition is a useful report on the state of a commercial property at a given point in time. This report will describe, in detail, the condition of every part of the property, from floor to ceiling, and everything in between, and document that with photographs. This is important for tenants who have a liability within the lease to return the property to its original condition at the end of the term of the lease and has the potential to save thousands of pounds in repairs.

For property owners who have invested in the refurbishment of their property, a schedule of condition is useful to avoid contentious litigation at the end of a lease, if a tenant has damaged or abused the property in some way, providing documentary evidence of its condition at the start of the lease.

Schedule of dilapidations

This type of survey is usually carried out at the end of a lease by a property owner in order to establish the repairing obligations of their tenant, and to understand how best to settle the amount of dilapidation without resorting to legal action. In cases where the dilapidation is considerable, a building surveyor may also act as an expert intermediary in any negotiations, on behalf of either the landlord or the tenant.

It is vital that any commercial property survey of whatever sort is undertaken by a suitably-qualified and -experienced surveyor and that they are a member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, RICS surveyors have undergone extensive and on-going training, backed with years of experience; secondly, they have comprehensive public liability insurance which protects both their clients and themselves.

If you need advice or information about any aspect of commissioning a commercial building survey, as a tenant, landlord, purchaser or vendor, talk to a member of our team. Our RICS-qualified experts can offer you professional, confidential guidance on the survey which is right for you.

 

Written by: John Padgett on Wednesday 24/08/2016

 

Which celebrities have commercial property interests?

Which celebrities have commercial property interests?

 

There seems to be no end to the interest we have in celebrities – what they’re wearing, who they’re dating and what misfortunes they’ve encountered in their private lives. But did you know that beneath all the glitter and fake tan, some of them are astute business people? We take a look at which celebrities have diversified their portfolios into commercial property.

Robbie Fowler

Probably Britain’s most well-known celebrity landlord, this former Liverpool FC player owns an estimated 80 residential properties which are thought to be worth over £31 million. At one time he owned all the houses in one street in Oldham. He now shares his commercial nous with prospective landlords in his Property Academy, which offers tips and advice to grow income through investment.

Rupert Grint

Best known as Ron, Harry’s best buddy in the Harry Potter series of films, Rupert invested his considerable earnings into property and now has a portfolio worth an estimated £12.9 million. Concentrating on his home county of Hertfordshire, his property empire, Eevil Plan Properties, spreads over a 20 mile radius and includes property registered in both his father’s and mother’s names.

Andy Murray

Not content with being a double Wimbledon and Olympic champion, Scotland’s finest ever tennis player has invested over £6 million into the purchase and refurbishment of The Cromlix Hotel, near to his home town of Dunblane. Now a five-star, luxury country house hotel it offers 15 bedrooms, a private chapel and tennis courts – naturally. Murray manages his investments through 77 Management Limited, and has recently also purchased a property near to the hotel with plans to incorporate it into the estate.

Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville

Once a formidable force on the football pitch, these two former Manchester United players have combined again to offer football fans the opportunity to stay in a soccer-themed hotel, the Hotel Football, situated close to the Old Trafford ground. They have also teamed up to develop one of Manchester’s finest historic buildings, the Stock Exchange, which is being turned into a boutique hotel, as well as investing over £200 million in a mixed-use development on the site which was formerly known as Jackson’s Row.

Robert de Niro

Hollywood A lister and multi-award-winning actor, Robert de Niro is best known for his performances in over 100 films, but he is also a canny investor. He co-owns several restaurants around the world, including Nobu, a Japanese/Peruvian themed eatery, a branch of which can be found in London’s prestigious Berkeley Square. He has also recently submitted a planning application for permission to build a luxury hotel in Covent Garden.

If you’re looking for commercial property in which to invest, talk to a member of our team. We have the expertise to source precisely what you need and can offer advice and information about every aspect of development. You don’t even need to be a celebrity.

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Tuesday 23/08/2016

 

Eddisons sells Featherstone warehouse in £2m deal

Eddisons sells Featherstone warehouse in £2m deal

 

Eddisons has sold a 39,000 sq ft warehouse investment at Featherstone’s Green Lane Industrial Estate near Wakefield for almost £2m. The building, home to NHS supplier Healthcare at Home, has been sold to Bilfinger GVA client, warehousing business Onward Holdings.

Family-run Onward specialises in operating northern industrial warehousing and retail parks. Its other sites include Castleford, Doncaster, Ackworth and Scunthorpe as well as the busy Onyx Retail Park at Wath upon Dearne near Rotherham.

Junction Point, on a 2.3 acre site and with 10,400 sq ft of offices and 29,000 sq ft of warehouse space is let to Healthcare at Home, the home medical services business that cares for cancer patients and others, at a rent of £120,000 per annum on a ten-year term that began in 2014. Eddisons, and Ian Errington, partner in Blacks Solicitors’ property team, acted on behalf of the vendor.

Steven Jones, associate agency director at Eddisons, said: “Properties generating this scale of return and with a good lease length are becoming increasingly scarce right across Yorkshire, especially with the excellent transport links that Junction Point enjoys, just two miles form the M62.

“At a 6 per cent net initial yield, the building was an excellent prospect from an asset management perspective and we are really pleased to have completed the sale for very close to the asking price.”
He added: “It’s encouraging now the dust is beginning to settle post referendum and we are seeing transactions concluding and some much needed momentum returning to the market.”

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Wednesday 10/08/2016

 

 

Bradford commercial property market on the up as property agent Eddisons reports increase in deals

Bradford commercial property market on the up as property agent Eddisons reports increase in deals

 

Property consultant Eddisons has reported an increase in property transactions in Bradford in the four months to July, with a string of sales and lettings a sign that the city’s economy is rallying.

John Padgett, Director at Eddisons, said: “This has been a particularly busy four months for us and the number and wide variety of property deals that we have been involved in this spring and summer is a tremendously encouraging indicator of Bradford’s increasing economic success.”

Deals carried out by the firm include lettings at the Link 606 business park, where Eddisons provided Preston-based construction group Eric Wright with 2,400 sq ft of office space as a base to fulfil a contract for Yorkshire Water. Eric Wright has committed to a nine-year lease off an asking rent of £12.50 per sq ft. Eddisons has also let a further suite of 1,000 sq ft at the business park.

In the city centre, the firm has let a 1,500 sq ft suite of offices at the Grade II listed Kenburgh House, built by Titus Salt in the 19th century, to national charity Lifeline off a headline level of £8 per sq ft. The charity plans to open a community wellbeing centre in the building. Terms have also been agreed to lease a full floor of offices in the property to the NHS.

Down the road at Cheapside Chambers, contracts have also been exchanged on the upper floors of the landmark city centre building, which is being converted to residential use under the new office-to-residential permitted development rights.

Other deals completed by Eddisons in Bradford since the end of March this year include the sale of Skipton Chambers on North Parade to Leeds-based BLG Property off an asking price of £255,000, and the lease of warehousing at unit 10, Lister Street to plastic building products supplier Pearl Plastics. Both deals were carried out on behalf of landlord Wharfedale Finance.

At Mitre Court on Cutler Heights Lane, the firm has let two units and has now been instructed to sell the trade counter/warehouse space as an investment. Eddisons has also acted as joint agent with Cushman Wakefield, letting a unit at Wakefield Road Trade Park on behalf of warehousing specialist Industrious, and with Hayfield Robinson to let two units at Marley Street in Keighley for Marrtree Investments.

Meanwhile two units of 6,000 and 4,000 sq ft are about to complete at Pitcliffe way Industrial Estate.

Mr Padgett added: “Investment in the city, with projects such as the Broadway Centre helping to increase confidence, is really starting to pay off and the much talked about ‘Westfield effect’ is becoming a reality.”

 

Written by: John Padgett on Tuesday 02/08/2016

 

Eddisons and Gordons close on £2.4m of Harrogate property deals

Eddisons and Gordons close on £2.4m of Harrogate property deals

 

Property consultant Eddisons and law firm Gordons have completed two commercial property investment transactions within a week in Harrogate, with a combined value of £2.4m.

On Cheltenham Parade in the town, the building that is home to Harrogate culinary institution, Graveley’s fish and chip shop and seafood restaurant, has been sold to property investor and developer Marrtree for £970,000.

In addition to the restaurant, which is let to Graveleys, the first and second floors of the property contain five apartments and the building produces an annual rental income of £73,400.

Eddisons has also sold serviced office hub, Harrogate Business Centre, on Hookstone Avenue, to Andrew Hillas Properties, for £1.45m. Established over 30 years ago, the 11,500 sq ft space includes 46 offices and two workshops and has a 95 per cent occupancy rate.

Eddisons acted on behalf of the vendors on the sale of both properties. Steven Jones, associate agency director, said: “The property market in Harrogate is buoyant and the town’s desirability as both a place to live and to work gives it an edge over other nearby locations.

“The Harrogate leisure scene is particularly vigorous at present, with a number of national operators moving in.”

He added: “Needless to say, this cultural and economic resilience makes Harrogate a popular option for property investors and there is always an appetite in the market for new investment opportunities.”

Simon Mydlowski, partner at law firm Gordons, who acted on behalf of both purchasers, said: “We are very happy to have been able to advise Marrtree and Andrew Hillas Properties on these successful acquisitions. Both businesses have a strong reputation as leading property developers and it was a pleasure to work with them to secure these deals.”

Andrew Hillas Properties was represented by Bielby Associates and WSB Property Consultants represented Marrtree.

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Wednesday 20/07/2016

 

 

What are your obligations and rights as a tenant if your lease has an error?

What are your obligations and rights as a tenant if your lease has an error?

 

A commercial lease can be a complex document and it’s all too easy to overlook important details. We look at the kind of errors which crop up and why it’s so important to make sure a lease is correct before you sign.

Common errors

Signing a lease without examining it thoroughly first, assisted by your lawyer, can lead to some serious consequences for you. The most common errors in commercial leases include:

Neglecting to determine who is responsible for maintenance and repair The lease should set out clearly who has responsibility for maintaining and repairing the property. Most landlords will require that the tenant keeps the property in good order and, at the end of the lease, returns it in good repair. It is essential that this is defined explicitly in the lease in order to avoid either a large repair bill or a lengthy and expensive court case.

Not clarifying security of tenure

Commercial leases imply that a tenant can remain on the property and ask for a renewal of their lease, once the old one comes to an end, as stated in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The landlord has limited grounds to object to this but can, in theory refuse to grant a new lease. Tenants must, therefore, examine the lease carefully to see if security of tenure is included in the lease or not. If a landlord wishes to remove the tenant at the end of the lease, this must be explicit in the terms of the lease, and a formal process must be gone through.

Failure to insert a rent review clause

If a landlord does not include a rent review clause into a lease they will be unable to raise the rent to cover an increase in inflation and other costs. While this may benefit the tenant rather than the landlord, legal issues may arise if the omission is discovered at a later date.

Omission of a forfeiture clause

If a tenant fails to pay the rent or breaches other obligations within the lease, the landlord can evict them, without having to apply for a court order. However, without this clause being written into the lease, it could prove difficult and expensive to remove the tenant through the legal system.

Lack of protection against legal fees liability

Landlords can specify that their tenants must pay any legal fees incurred during variations to the lease, if they wish to avoid paying them themselves. Landlords may also ask that the tenant pays bailiff’s fees if an eviction is required (due, for example, to non-payment of rent). These instances are just some of the most common mistakes that tenants find in poorly-prepared commercial leases. There are numerous others too. It is for this reason that it is essential that you have a lease checked by a suitably-qualified commercial lawyer who can not only advise you of errors but also of omissions which may act in the landlord’s favour, rather than yours. Legal advice may be relatively expensive at lease stage, but the amount you’ll pay is a drop in the ocean compared to legal action later.

Eddisons can offer you advice on all aspects of commercial leases, with legal specialists who understand the intricacies involved in such complex documents. If you need guidance on what’s in your lease and maybe, more importantly, what’s been left out, talk to one of our team.

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Thursday 23/06/2016

 

New jobs created in Ferrybridge as packaging company opens new warehouse

New jobs created in Ferrybridge as packaging company opens new warehouse

 

Packaging company Taylor Davis, which is based in Wiltshire and specialises in producing metal and plastic containers for food and other uses, has opened its first northern logistics centre at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire.

The new facility has already created 15 new jobs in an area that was hit by the closure, in May this year, of the Ferrybridge C coal-fired power station which employed over 170 people, with further recruitment planned later in the year.

Property consultancy Eddisons, whose head office is in Leeds, acted on behalf of landlord Wharfedale Finance to broker the deal, which sees Taylor Davis sign a 10-year lease on the 40,000 sq ft warehouse at Ferrybridge Business Park.

The facility is the company’s first northern distribution base and will supplement its warehouse and distribution centres at Westbury in Wiltshire and Warwick, enabling more efficient delivery of its plastic and metal containers to clients across the UK.

Steven Jones, associate agency director at Eddisons, said: “Medium sized warehouses of between 20,000 and 50,000 sq ft, such as this one at Ferrybridge, are becoming increasingly scarce and rents, as a result, are rising.”

He added: “This was a real win-win situation as we were able to secure a tenant for our client as well as helping to provide a boost to the economy of the Ferrybridge area with Taylor Davis’s creation of new jobs to staff the firm’s new distribution centre.”

Wayne Weatherhead of Taylor Davis said: “We’re really excited to be expanding into Yorkshire and our new Ferrybridge site is ideally located for the A1 and M62 motorways which will give us excellent access to the whole of the North.

“We have come a long way since our inception in 1978. Despite our phenomenal growth, our core values remain the same, providing customers with an unparalleled level of cost-effective service. This, above all else, has secured our position as one of the largest suppliers of containers throughout the UK.”

Law firm Gordons acted on behalf of landlord Wharfedale Finance and Michael Steel & Co was joint agent with Eddisons on the deal.

Gordons commercial property partner, Paul Young, said: “We are very pleased to have a tenant of this calibre moving to the Ferrybridge Business Park, especially as this will create much-needed jobs for people in the local area. The fact that an established company of Taylor Davies’ size and reputation chose this site is testament to Ferrybridge’s ideal location and the quality of the space on offer.”

 

Written by: Steven Jones on Wednesday 22/06/2016