In this edition of the Board Minute we catch up with Daniel Winslow, Partner & Head of Leasehold Services. Daniel joined Healys in 2006 in this firm's Residential Property department and completed his training contract in 2010. He is an integral member of the Property Litigation team and was recently promoted as Partner and now leads the Leasehold Services department.
1. Congratulations on your recent promotion to Partner at Healys LLP! Tell me a little more about you and your legal background in leasehold services.
Thank you very much! Well as you know I have been with the firm for a while now. I joined in August 2006 as a completions assistant in the firm's Residential Property Department. After a year of doing that I was then brought over to work more closely with Kiri Kkoshi (Head of Real Estate) and assist her on her casework. That evolved to me working on my own (albeit much more modest) caseload. I carried out that duty for another year and a half or so and from there I obtained a training contract. I qualified as a solicitor in September 2010 into the firm's Property Litigation Department to work alongside department head Mark Davies. As you know more recently I was then made Partner in January of this year.Over the course of the past 10 years I have been lucky enough to have been involved in pretty much everything property dispute related. I have also been given the space to grow what is now a fully functional leasehold services department. This department not only deals with usual dispute queries (licences for alterations, lease queries and disputes, possession claims etc.) but also has a busy and growing arm that handles anything from simple lease extensions, to large collective enfranchisement, right to manage and right of first refusal claims. In fact that work now accounts for circa 80% of all instructions in the department, which I am immensely proud of.
2. What interested you in this area of law?
I have always found property litigation to be a challenging (and sometimes extremely difficult) area of law and I think it is that which has kept me interested over the years. I have found that every matter has offered something different and kept me on my toes in one form or another, which can be stressful at the time but I always feel thankful afterwards. I think we all dread the idea of working a boring and repetitive job and that is something I don't think I will ever be able to say about what I do; and fingers crossed it stays that way.
3. What do you enjoy most about your role?
Aside from the problem solving aspect of what I do, I enjoy working with my colleagues, many of whom I have known for a very long time. I also enjoy working with clients to find a solution to an issue or problem that they could not deal with themselves. I find that aspect hugely rewarding.
4. How have you found working from home and what are your thoughts regarding returning to the office?
Like many, I initially found working from home to be a challenge. However, I have now adjusted and believe I am now working more efficiently than ever before. My work life balance has also improved immeasurably. I exercise regularly and I am able to spend quality time with my wife and child, time that would have otherwise been spent crammed into a train going to and from work, at enormous expense I might add. Now I struggle to think of a world where this habit of working wasn't the norm to begin with and whilst I understand the need to have a presence in an office setting, I would hope that we will be able to maintain a more balanced approach to work going forward.
5. Have you noticed any changes to the type of services clients require support for since lockdown?
I have found the work to be pretty constant to be honest over the course of the past year. If anything the volume has increased substantially (especially in the residential property sector) owing I think to market conditions.
6. There has been recent discussion in the media regarding changes to leasehold law. Is this likely to affect all leaseholders?
Earlier this year the government announced an intention to streamline the lease extension process for all long leaseholders. At present a statutory lease extension will get you the following:
- 90 years on top of the current unexpired term;
- Ground rent reduced to a peppercorn; and
- All other terms the same save for reasonable modifications.
For that the leaseholder will pay a reasonable premium to either be agreed between the parties or determined by the First Tier Tribunal Property Chamber.The proposals are not law, which means they could change. It is also unclear when that law will be passed. However, if the proposals as announced are made into law then the difference to what the owner can get now (to my mind) boils down to the following:
- The client will get a 990 year extension on the term as opposed to 90 years;
- Ground rent will continue to be reduced to a peppercorn; and
- All other terms the same save for reasonable modifications.
The client may pay slightly less in costs and the premium if their term of years is over 80 years. If their lease is under 80 years then they may save a lot as marriage value (which is in effect a penalty calculation used where the lease term has been allowed to fall below 80 years) will be scrapped.Getting a 990 year lease extension as against a 90 year extension sounds great on paper but in reality will likely make little practical difference to the owner unless their lease is prohibitively short. For the vast majority of leaseholders, a 90 year extension will be perfectly acceptable and will ensure future marketability for a very long time. Remember, extending by 90 years is still the standard and will be fine for buyers and mortgage lenders alike. Extending now will also ensure the owner won't generally have to worry about doing it ever again, which is a large bonus.In terms of the ground rent, the proposals are identical to what a leaseholder is entitled to now, so there is no benefit to waiting here.Lastly, there is the value and I would need to defer to all the leasehold valuers out there for a more definitive answer. However, my view is the owner should be very careful about holding off. If the term on the lease is already healthy to the point where really a lease extension is more of a want rather than a need to have situation, then it may be worth waiting as time will generally be on their side. If the term of the lease is over 80 years but getting close, my view is the owner should consider getting it done to protect their asset, avoid marriage value and ensure future marketability. If the term of the lease is already under 80 years then the owner may wish to wait as the potential abolition of marriage value could save them a lot of money, but again there is danger in making that decision. The lease term will continue to fall and therefore continue to impact marketability. The cost of extending will also continue to rise the longer the leaseholder waits for the legislation to pass and in line with present proposals. It is a tough call as you are effectively betting on the government passing the legislation quickly and without alterations.
7. What will be the first thing you will do/treat yourself to when lockdown ends?
I will be seeing my family in a collective setting for the first time in what feels like an age ago now, which I am very much looking forward to.