The story of Devonshires began in 1840, when we first opened our doors and began dispensing legal advice, quickly establishing a reputation for cutting edge expertise combined with down to earth approachability. By the early 1970’s we were specialising in the housing sector, developing an expertise in social housing which today forms a vital core of our business. This lengthy track record has led to a level of expertise and depth of knowledge which means we can work with a range of RPs (Registered Providers), safe in the knowledge that, whilst every provider is different, each has to work within the existing statutory framework, a framework which we, in our work for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), have played a key part in developing. Our longevity indicates to clients just how experienced and dedicated we are when it comes to working with social housing.
Working With Clients
The combination of an unprecedented demand for affordable housing and narrowing funding avenues has brought about something of a perfect storm in the social housing sector, creating a market for innovative funding arrangements and ownership or shared ownership models which we, thanks to our strategic links with RP boards, executive teams, regulators and financial advisers, are expertly placed to push forward. Our excellent working relationship with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the NHF, Charity Commission, Financial Conduct Authority and the Care Quality Commission, means that we are ever alert to the very latest developments in the field, and we combine this knowledge with a determination to work hand in hand with our clients. Our contacts mean that we can provide our clients with an open two way link to the regulators and bodies with whom they will have to deal.
Large Yet Bespoke
Our Housing Management Team acts on behalf of over 200 Registered Provider (RPs), and has places on the legal panels of 14 members of the G15, the largest social housing providers in and around London, whilst we also boast one of the biggest Social Housing Finance teams in the sector, ranked ‘Tier 1’ in both the Legal 500 and Chambers directories. We also have the largest specialist social housing Property Charging Team in the sector, and act on behalf of housing associations and Local Authorities across the UK. Despite this ambition of scale, each client receives an individual, ‘hands on’ bespoke service, and the fact that all our staff are based in the one office in Moorgate, London, means that liaising between the different departments, seeking advice and sharing expertise, only ever takes a matter of moments. This means we can combine economies of scale and a breadth of knowledge with the flexibility needed to respond quickly to changing events and circumstances.
Range of Advice
Our experience, combined with a deep passion for the concept and value of social housing and a workforce fully dedicated to illuminating the bigger picture on behalf of clients, makes us able to offer the full range of services to clients including Registered Providers and Arm’s Length Management Organisations (ALMOs). In recent years, we have maintained the widest possible understanding of innovations such as Affordable Rent Fixed Term Tenancies and Starter Tenancies. Social housing amounts to some 10% of the housing stock in the UK, and covers options such as family housing, elderly (sheltered) housing, shared ownership housing and key worker housing. In more recent years, housing associations and other RPs have been called upon to provide houses for sale or available at market rent, and the ever growing demand for affordable housing seems set to increase both the demands on the sector and the opportunities available for those agencies willing to take advantage and meet these demands. In simple terms, social housing offers more than simply housing, fulfilling the role of a key economic driver. Our position at the heart of the sector allows us to assess the risks and opportunities on offer, navigate through the ever changing landscape of regulations and funding (in particular the identifying of new funding streams) and provide an overview of the climate in which the client is operating, a service which goes above and beyond simply offering legal advice.