Hear what our clients have to say …
There’s not much that the firm of Curchod & Co Chartered Surveyors doesn’t know about property. Since it was founded in 1938, the company has offered wide-ranging expertise as chartered surveyors and land, property and construction consultants, looking after clients throughout North West Surrey and the south-east of England
Based in Weybridge, the company’s in-depth knowledge of the town and its surrounding area is particularly valuable in connection with commercial and residential property surveys and valuations, rent reviews, commercial lease renewals, sales, lettings and acquisitions.
The relationship with Meadows Fraser goes back some 25 years – which has been enhanced by the fact that the offices of the two firms are housed in adjoining properties on Church Street for the last five years – and has developed significantly over the last four or five years.
Ian Oswin, who heads Curchod & Co’s commercial property team, explains: “It has very much grown through referrals. If a client of mine is looking for a solicitor who can deal with commercial business, I am able to refer them to Meadows Fraser.”
Meadows Fraser’s expertise in commercial and residential property complements Curchod & Co’s own specialist area while the two firms are so comfortable working together, they have also provided professional services to one another.
Ian says: “They dealt with our conversion to a limited liability partnership in 2007 and have advised us on matters relating to our own property. In turn, we have overseen an extension to their building, including planning work.”
While being so closely located certainly makes life easier for both firms when acting on matters of mutual interest, it’s the personal contact that Ian values in the successful working relationship between them. He says: “What I like is that you can speak to the Meadows Fraser team, rather than relying totally on correspondence.”
Nigel explains: “We had previously used larger firms of solicitors in central London, but our experience was increasingly that we suffered from a lack of adequate personal attention, perhaps because Mayflower is a minnow compared with other, very large property companies with whom they do business.
“Issues have been overlooked due to lack of attention and when we have been trying to get deals done, we have been nowhere near the front of the queue, with transactions often delayed at the last minute rather than attended to in a business-like manner. We have also felt that there was more interest in fees than in delivering a first class service.”
In May 2008, Mayflower adopted a new approach by transferring its legal work on a trial basis to two local firms of solicitors in north Surrey and two in Poole, with the intention of subsequently selecting one firm in each area for a longer-term collaboration.
The relationship with Meadows Fraser – chosen as one of the Surrey firms as a result of Nigel meeting Piers Meadows at a social function in summer 2007 – has worked so well that just a few months after the trial began, Nigel has chosen the firm as his Surrey partner, with its primary focus on conveyancing and development work. Nigel says: “The service is much more personal and we also find the fees more reasonable.”
Working in exclusive locations can mean particular sensitivity is required in dealing with interested parties, including residents’ associations, and Nigel adds: “It is important to us is that Meadows Fraser is based in Weybridge and Peter Meadows knows the circumstances of the properties we are involved in buying and selling – he lives on St George’s Hill, where we are increasingly active.”
With future projects including the development of two further plots of land on St George’s Hill, Mayflower Developments looks set to continue building on the firm foundations the company has already established with Meadows Fraser.
“Meadows Fraser have the same core values in terms of the way they look after their clients as we do. Unlike some other legal firms, they are very much client-focused, while remaining commercially-minded.”
Since that initial meeting, TWP has referred a number of clients to Meadows Fraser, which has advised on a range of company commercial transactions and provided services including dealing with the legal aspects of trust work and pursuing rent arrears for commercial landlords.
Both firms also carry out work directly for each other. When TWP restructured as a limited liability partnership, Meadows Fraser dealt with the membership agreements and the legal structure, while TWP prepares Meadows Fraser’s annual accounts and tax returns.
Philip says: “From the start, it was clear that both firms were on the same wavelength and the relationship we have developed has not only benefited our firms, but also our mutual clients.”
Piers Meadows of Meadows Fraser, said: “I always have confidence in referring clients to TWP; their expertise in identifying advantageous tax positions is unrivalled. They also provide advice on the optimal corporate structure for our clients and we have the added benefit of their office proximity to ours – our clients can literally just walk across the road to their offices from ours.”
|House Owners Investments Limited||
House Owners Investments Limited
Managing a large property portfolio is a little like the legendary painting of the Forth Road Bridge: an ongoing project that never comes to a conclusion.
For property specialists like Weybridge-based House Owners Investments Limited, a family-owned company, this is certainly the case. A major project to modernise a large proportion of the portfolio – some 75 office and shop properties and 125 flats in Weybridge and Central London – may be drawing to a conclusion after eight years, but the portfolio generates a continuous flow of legal work around leases and tenancy issues.
For the last three years, that work has been handled by Meadows Fraser; where a productive working relationship has been built up between Piers Meadows, Peter Meadows, Christian Abletshauser and David Botterill, the general manager of House Owners Investments.
David explains: “Our longstanding solicitor was retiring and we took that opportunity to move to a new firm. We wanted someone local – Meadows Fraser’s offices are just over the road from our own – and we were aware of Meadows Fraser’s reputation through other work we had done in Weybridge over the years.”
Other firms of solicitors were also considered but the decision to work with Meadows Fraser has proved to be a sound one. David says: “We are very happy with the way they have embraced every aspect of what we require as a property investment company.”
The majority of the work involves the preparation of leases, lease renewals and assignments – a typical month will involve around a dozen separate items – although Meadows Fraser has also handled a couple of substantial property sales and represented House Owners Investments in litigation, including disputes with tenants, and assisted in managing tenancies.
The proximity of the two firms has also brought another small, but important, benefit. In property matters, paper copies of leases and other correspondence cannot be replaced by emails and these bulky documents can be quickly walked backwards and forwards between the two offices, saving both time and money. David says: “It was a deliberate decision to go for a local firm and this has proved very useful. The fact that they will send someone round with the document in their hand is another part of the overall service they are offering.”
That kind of personal service is an important part of the relationship between Meadows Fraser and David. He says: “I am particularly happy that I deal with the partners themselves – when I ring, I speak to Piers, Christian or Peter directly. I like that a great deal and they look after me extremely well.”
That same commitment to quality is something that company founder and chairman Andrew Beaumont also looks for in his professional advisors and for more than 30 years, it has been provided by Meadows Fraser’s Peter Meadows: a long-term relationship that tells its own success story.
Andrew set up Weybridge-based Runnymede Homes after previously working for Crest Homes, also in Weybridge, before leaving to strike out on his own. He met Peter through his co-founder in Runnymede and when Peter set up Meadows and Co – later to evolve into Meadows Fraser – in 1976, their working relationship began in earnest.
Now Meadows Fraser handles all Runnymede’s legal work, primarily conveyancing; including the purchase of land and the sale of finished properties, and also deals with Andrew’s own personal legal matters.
The firm’s ability to respond quickly is crucial, says Andrew. In property transactions, acting swiftly to complete the purchase of a piece of land in a matter of days is sometimes required, and he knows that he can rely on Peter in such circumstances.
Peter’s in-depth knowledge of Runnymede Homes is also an advantage in saving Andrew and his team valuable time. Andrew says: “Very often, we don’t have to give lengthy instructions – we’ll just send him brief details and he does the rest, for example in preparing leases for flats or drawing up a complicated conditional contract.”
Both Runnymede Homes and Meadows Fraser are of a similar size in their respective fields – big enough, but not too big – which contributes to the personal touch in the way they work together.
Andrew says: “Sometimes Peter and I will talk every week and sometimes once a month, but when I do call I know I will get to speak to him; I don’t end up talking to a faceless name at the end of the phone or get passed to a different person every time I call. The personal attention and the rapid response to our needs are what makes all the difference and is why we are still entrusting all our legal work to Meadows Fraser 30 years down the line.”