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Five top tips for avoiding property disputes

10 July 2019

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The GP property transactions specialist team at Capsticks Solicitors LLP reveal the most common reasons for property disputes and how to avoid them

Practices can find themselves at the centre of property disputes, whether they are a landlord with third party tenants or a tenant with a third-party landlord, say Capsticks partners Dan Kirk and Lisa Geary.

One common problem area is when partners retire and retain ownership of the practice building without putting a lease in place. This can lead to disputes, for example over rent reimbursement, as the terms of use are uncertain.

The partnership model can also cause problems when some partners own the property and others don’t within a single practice and competing interests and priorities lead to tensions.

Another frequent cause of disputes is when practices house other occupations such as pharmacists.

With practices working more collaboratively and sharing a multidisciplinary team across primary care networks, they should make sure they are prepared in case of any disagreements.

Here are Capsticks’ top tips for avoiding property disputes:

Keep up-to-date documents

This reduces the scope of the dispute. You then don’t have that first question of, ‘what is the term of the tenancy?’ because you’ve got a lease. Keep those documents up to date so that they reflect the correct parties. If they need to be changed and updated, make sure that they are.

Resolve issues early

Try to resolve any issues early because it avoids parties becoming entrenched in their views.

Consider the personalities involved

Any form of dispute can be stressful, even if it doesn’t get to formal proceedings. That stressful situation doesn’t bring out the best in people sometimes. For partners or people who have worked together for years, something like this could really exacerbate any tensions in the relationship.

Follow the processes in the documents

If you have a dispute resolution process or if there is a charging mechanism, it’s good to follow that. If you’ve got a pharmacy in the practice and there’s a method of charging, make sure that process is followed in the lease.

Is external input required?

Consider external input at the right stages. Often, getting advice early can lead to a quicker resolution. You can get advice on a number of issues, for example repairs, dilapidations claims or rent reviews will require a surveyor’s involvement.  

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