The article was originally published by The Law Society Gazette on 8 April 2019.
Commercial property spans an ever wider range of legal work – from leasing office and retail space, to developing and investing in new homes, big-box distribution centres and places for students to live. But practitioners in this area, perhaps more so than any other branch of legal practice, are at the mercy of commercial and economic trends.
The exciting thing that has happened for overseas investors has been the fall in sterling
Suzanne Gill, Wedlake Bell
One of the most significant drivers recently has been the value of the pound. Over three-quarters of capital invested in the London market in 2018 came from outside the UK, according to estimates by real estate giant JLL. ‘The exciting thing that has happened for overseas investors has been the fall in sterling,’ says Suzanne Gill, commercial property partner at Wedlake Bell and a Gazette columnist. This, ‘coupled with the UK’s reputation as having laws that we actually enforce, means that property assets in the UK are relatively cheap at the moment, but they still remain trustworthy’, Gill observes.
Adding to the attractiveness of British assets for foreign landlords is a type of lease, known as full repairing and insurance (or FRI) which renders tenants responsible for all maintenance and repair costs. ‘Foreign investor clients tell me that this is not the case on the continent, where they… have to pay a lot more towards the maintenance of the building than they do when they buy assets in England and Wales,’ Gill says.
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