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General Principles

If you do encounter property problems, here are some general principles to remember:

  • Don’t panic.  It won’t help.
  • Be sceptical.  Just because someone claims your organisation is in the wrong, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the case. Is there a hidden agenda behind the claim? Or is the dispute really about who acted reasonably?
  • Check the alleged facts.  Are they really as claimed by the other party?
  • Be analytical.  There is a set of claimed facts, but does that logically mean that there is likely to be some wrong-doing by your organisation.
  • Gather together all relevant legal documentation, copy leases, copy correspondence, and records of works to the property.
  • Get some input from people who may know what the real facts are, including employees and former employees, or trustees and former trustees.
  • Do some homework on the legal basis of the alleged wrongdoing.  Our online resources are a great starting point, providing useful basic background information, along with links to a range of useful websites.
  • Look for legal expenses insurance in your organisation’s policies and consider if it’s covered.  If it seems it might be, contact your broker or the insurer.
  • Communicate with the other party to find out how serious and aggressive they are and what they are looking for.  Show concern at what appears to be their perceived problem, but take the line that you are checking the position from your end and seeing what you have to do.
  • If the other party has given a deadline, either try to comply with it, or indicate when you can comply with it if the time given is too short, or explain why you are not going to comply with it. Often problems escalate because parties believe the other side is dragging their feet.
  • Consider an appropriate strategy for dealing with the problem, even if you have insurance and are going to seek advice.
  • If it does not look as though the matter can be dealt with in a swift, satisfactory risk-averse and cost-effective manner, consider whether you should take legal advice as to what your next steps should be.

By following the basic principles above you will hopefully provide your organisation with every chance of resolving the situation amicably.

REMEMBER: If you are in any doubt or require guidance, our Property Advisors are on hand to provide guidance or support and have the experience to help you develop a strategy to resolve your property issue. Click here to visit our Contacts page.

Having considered these general principles, we would suggest you read through the specific pages to address your particular issue.

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The Foundation would like to thank Russell Cooke LLP for their contribution to this Property Advice section of the website.