The Real Estate team at international law and professional services firm Ince recently advised Local Authority Trading Company, TBG Open Door Limited (part of The Barnet Group), on the acquisition of 155 properties in a deal worth £38 million.
With a background of insufficient affordable housing supply, high rent charges in the private sector, and the impact of welfare reforms – the last few years have been challenging for all local authorities. There has been a significant increase in homelessness demand, with a 39% rise in new Part VII homelessness applications between 2011/12 and 2018/19. In addition, a growing number of households are in temporary accommodation, with a 15% increase between April 2012 and November 2019. These have all placed even further pressure on the already limited housing supply.
Loss of private rental accommodation is one of the most common reasons for a homelessness application, and this reality has been replicated at a local level. Barnet have experienced increased high levels of demand for affordable housing and limited sources of affordable supply. The buoyant private rental market in the borough has become increasingly unaffordable for those on lower incomes; and residents who previously made their own arrangements in the private rental sector now needing to approach the local authority.
TBG Open Door Limited was first established to meet the local housing requirements of Barnet Council, which are expected to grow significantly in the years to come. The speed of the £38 million-worth transaction, completed within exceptionally tight deadlines and unprecedented wider market pressure, has allowed for additional on-lending revenue to the council. This expanded TBG Open Door Limited capacity to deliver a volume of new affordable homes.
The deal was led by Cardiff-based real estate Managing Associate Jessie Blain; with support from London-based Partner Mino Themistocli, who guided the structural elements of the deal and settled any key issues; along with other members of the firm’s teams in both London and Cardiff.
Ince have also been instructed to advise on a larger project for TBG Open Door Limited; to acquire up to a further 500 properties over the next four years.
Commenting on the deal, Jessie Blain, Real Estate Managing Associate at Ince, said:
“We were thrilled to be able to assist TBG Open Door Limited on their landmark transaction, the first phase of which was completed within exceptionally tight deadlines. We look forward to further developing our working relationship with TBG Open Door Limited on their future property acquisitions – which are extremely ambitious – over the coming years.”
Susan Haggard, Head of Real Estate at Ince, said:
“We were delighted to support TBG Open Door Limited on this transaction and to help them achieve their commercial objectives – it is encouraging to see this level of activity by a local authority during the pandemic. This deal showcases the depth of experience our Real Estate team has to offer. It also demonstrates the collaborative work across our London, Cardiff and other regional offices – which allows us to service a range of clients across the UK, with a better understanding of their individual needs and the challenges they’re facing”.
Somayah Al-Hirsi, Acquisitions Officer at The Barnet Group, commented:
“Ince have played a vital role in handling this complex transaction and have displayed the utmost due diligence when executing the transfer for TBG Open Door Limited – especially during the national lockdown. The remote working and strict time frame were just a few of the additional pressures Ince had to endure. We would not have been able to achieve what we did without the team at Ince and their flexible, pragmatic and customer-focused approach.”