In due course of their business, property developers will certainly need to deal with legal regulations, laws and various requirements imposed by statute and government policy. It is not unusual for many property developers to employ in-house counsel and a legal team which specialises in environmental law or property law, so that all legal aspects of their project development are addressed and managed appropriately. However, often a property developer may have a firm of solicitors retained for the purposes of obtaining legal advice in relation to building and construction law issues and disputes, environmental law concerns and property law concepts. This is true for both commercial property development and residential property development.
Some of the issues encountered by property developers, which they may require the assistance or advice of a property developer lawyer, include:
- Rezoning, applications, challenges and appeals;
- The development of industrial land;
- Investment advice and project development advice;
- Purchasing and selling property under complex agreements;
- Subdivision of land or the merger of title blocks;
- Administration or management of “off-the-plan” sales;
- Advice on easements, particularly for neighbouring lot access, access to services (electrical, gas, water) and the leasing of premises for telecommunications facilities; and
- General leasing advice, particularly for complex commercial leases (such as retail leases in shopping malls and the like).
A property developer lawyer will be able to first assess what the objectives and needs of the project developer are before taking instruction and offering property law advice in relation to the proposed development. The property developer solicitor will be in a position to advise the developer on all aspects of contract management as well as the relevant principles of property and environmental law. The rights and liabilities of the property developer will need to be clearly explained so that the developer can understand precisely what the legal ramifications of commencing the project are. Legal advice may also be given in relation to projects that have already commenced.
It is important to understand that the legal advice provided by the property development solicitor will be limited to the information that is provided to him. Care must be taken therefore to disclose all necessary and relevant materials so that any legal advice is as comprehensive as possible. Any investigations that are required by the property development lawyer can also be completed, and this will undoubtedly form part of any preliminary advice offered to the client.
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