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Accessing professional support

When appointing property professionals, you should always choose by recommendation where possible.  Your second best option is to find an accredited practitioner through the appropriate professional body.

However you chose to appoint, you should always be careful to ensure that the professional you end up with is appropriately qualified to undertake the piece of work you have for them.  This is especially important where the work calls for particularly niche expertise – if you’re in a listed building, for example, you should take the time to find an architect who has relevant conservation experience. 

Finally, always ask for a CV and list of past clients and don’t be afraid to request references, preferably from other charities or community groups.  For large-scale projects, take the time to interview candidates in both formal and informal settings to establish whether you can envisage working closely with them over a long period.

Recommendations

If you share an office with another charity or are part of a charity network, why not ask if anyone has a trusted professional they’ve worked with in the past. If, for example, you already have a solicitor on board but need a surveyor, your solicitor might know of a good candidate for the job.

When dealing with legal matters, you should remember that charities are subject to different regulations than commercial companies.  The value of engaging a solicitor who is familiar with these regulations is not to be underestimated – be careful to check that the solicitor who acted for one of your Trustees’ businesses is suitably qualified to offer advice on charity land disposals or similar!  You can read more about finding the right solicitor in the who’s who section.

Alternatively, the Ethical Property Foundation manages a Register of Property Professionals.  Members of the Register are tried and tested property professionals: solicitors, surveyors, commercial agents, developers, relocation consultants, access auditors etc. who provide specialist advice and services to the Foundation’s Property Advice Service clients. Our Register members are trusted individuals who understand and respect the charity and community sector and can act with sensitivity in responding to your needs as a charitable organisation. As champions of the Foundation‘s values, Register members are also bound, by commitment to our Ethical Charter, to work in a transparent manner, upholding the highest standards in professional and ethical conduct. Register members offer some pro bono work and discounts on their standard fees to organisations referred by the Foundation.

If, in the course of working with the Foundation, you identify a need for professional assistance, we can refer you to a member of the Register.  You can read more about how to access support from a member of our Register of Property Professionals in our Service Statement - see 'How to use the Property Advice Service'.

Chartered bodies

The professional bodies listed below have directories of accredited members.  They can also provide details of any past complaints or disciplinary record held against a member, and checking these out is always a prudent move and is some assurance against nasty surprises later down the line.

Once you’ve identified a few suitable firms, it is often worth doing some further research on their respective websites.  Take a look at whether they have a designated charity team, or if any of their staff have charity experience listed on their biographies (which are usually available in the About Us area of the site).  Remember though that knowledge, aptitude and approach can vary widely between a firm’s different employees so be careful to check out that the professional who’ll actually be working on your project has the credentials you’re looking for.  If you have somebody particular in mind, don’t be shy to ask specifically for that person – you’ll often be the best judge of whose background fits best with your organisation’s requirements.

The following directories can be consulted online and all are searchable by region and area of expertise.

Solicitors

  • Chambers and Partners is an independent body that publishes research and rankings of the top lawyers worldwide.  Their UK Guide can be accessed on their website and each listing gives a short overview of the firm’s most notable areas of expertise and achievements.
  • The Legal 500 provides a similar independent review of the leading UK and international law firms

Surveyors

Architects