Real Estate Disputes

Our real estate litigators advise owners, occupiers, property managers and secured lenders on robust strategies to protect and enforce their interests across the full range of asset classes including residential, retail, offices, industrial, hotels, restaurants and pubs.

Together with our transactional team we work hand in hand with our clients and their professional advisers to provide strategic support on acquisitions and on long-term portfolio and multi-tenanted asset managements including shopping centres, office and industrial developments, and residential estates.

We handle opposed and unopposed lease renewals, rent reviews, interim and terminal dilapidation claims, money claims, lease covenant enforcements and other contentious matters affecting property including restrictive covenants, boundary disputes, planning, statutory compensation and construction claims.

We act extensively on residential property matters for landlords, managing agents and leaseholders and advise regularly on lease extensions, collective enfranchisements, the right to manage, ground rent and service charge collection, major service charge consultations and recoveries, complex service charge disputes and forfeiture and possession claims.

Working alongside our Banking & Finance and Real Estate teams, we act for secured lenders, receivers and administrators on volume and bespoke enforcements, as well as ancillary recourse against guarantors and other third parties.

We bring a pragmatic and cost-effective approach to dispute resolution, helping our clients to achieve excellent outcomes through meticulous planning and effective conduct of their cases both through the courts and tribunals and using mediation and other ADR methods.

Representative Real Estate Dispute Work

Examples of our team’s real estate dispute experience include:

  • Advised several secured lenders and receivers in more than 700 commercial/buy-to-let/residential investment portfolio enforcement cases.
  • Advised clients in connection with numerous multi-million pound settlements and court damages awards obtained against negligent property valuers.
  • Advised numerous clients on legal issues arising in connection with commercial rent reviews and appeals to the Commercial Court against arbitrators’ awards.
  • Advised a landlord in a contested service charge dispute in the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) concerning service charges in excess of £1.4m.
  • Advised a leaseholder on a successful claim under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 for freehold of a substantial house on the Grosvenor Estate with a value exceeding £20m where the sum agreed for the freehold was £1.7m.
  • Advised for a group of leaseholders on a collective enfranchisement claim under the Leasehold Reform Act 1993 in respect of which the landlord’s challenge to the claim to acquire two adjoining blocks with a single notice was successfully resisted at three court hearings (the last to the Court of Appeal).
  • Advised a freeholder in respect of an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to vary 365 residential leases.
  • Advised both trustees and beneficiaries on numerous claims under Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA).
  • Advised clients in connection with the defence of enforcement actions taken by Local Authorities for planning breaches.
  • Advised a landlord in connection with the forfeiture of a commercial lease for breach of a non-alienation covenant, successfully resisting application for relief from forfeiture and securing the grant of a new lease at 4x the amount of original passing rent.
  • Advised a tenant in obtaining relief from forfeiture of a restaurant premises following re-entry the landlord for non-payment of rent; successfully securing a licence to occupy pending the making of a Court order.
  • Advised a mortgagee in obtaining an order for possession over a residential property in Knightsbridge to realise security in excess of £20m.
  • Advised a landlord in successfully challenging the validity of a Section 26 Notice served under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 on behalf of a major UK clearing bank.

Key contacts:

Photo of Colin Richman

Colin Richman

Partner Dispute Resolution
Work 37-41 Bedford Row London WC1R 4JH United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0) 20 7611 4898


Colin joined Teacher Stern in 1987. His current cases mainly involve landlord and tenant issues, secured lending recoveries, professional negligence claims, and real estate joint venture / co-ownership disputes. He heads the Real Estate Disputes and Loan & Security Enforcement teams across all areas of property and secured lending dispute work, and works with a number of key clients to co-ordinate and implement effective asset management strategies and loan portfolio recoveries.

His experience also includes construction claims, planning and compulsory purchase advice, contentious insolvency work, advising parties and tribunals in commercial arbitrations, intellectual property claims and technology disputes.

Representative Experience

Colin has:

  • Advised and acted for mortgagees and fixed charge receivers in connection with their commercial and residential investment loan portfolios.
  • Advised on and implemented strategies to enable site owners to secure vacant possession for redevelopment purposes.
  • Advised shopping centre landlords and asset managers in achieving successful outcomes to lease renewal programmes at major schemes.
  • Advised on numerous rent reviews and  arbitration awards.
  • Obtained substantial settlement in Technology and Construction Court action against specialist contractors for defective development works.
  • Advised and acted for landlords and lessees on substantial terminal tenancy dilapidations claims.

Career History

Partner, Teacher Stern

Partner, Portner and Jaskel 1985–87

Solicitor, then Partner, Farmar Miller 1982-85

Trained at Kaufman Kramer & Shebson 1980-82


Carmel College

St Catherine’s College Oxford

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37-41 Bedford Row London WC1R 4JH United Kingdom