Although the buildings we manage vary in size and type, the process we follow to mitigate risk and achieve full vacant possession is the same each time. When a client requires their property back, a notice period of only 32 days is required when terminating a licence agreement. This allows adequate time to complete the restoration of the property back to its original condition, and in many cases, in a better condition than when LOWE guardians initially moved in, as well as the opportunity to rehome licensees at another LOWE property, where possible.
LOWE’s hand back process: how we achieve vacant possession
Every potential licensee must complete an extensive vetting process; this includes background checks, DBS, employment, and landlord references. All licensees are personally met and interviewed by a member of the LOWE team, and we ensure that only the most socially responsible individuals pass our vetting process. Licensees sign a license agreement, instead of a tenancy agreement, whereby they agree to a 28-day notice period as well as our terms and conditions, and their responsibilities as a licensee.
Keeping a good relationship with our licensees is essential to ensure we successfully vacate the properties on time, and it is due to this that we rarely encounter issues. We establish this relationship through ongoing and regular communication, and updates on the property, and once we have served formal notice on a building, our Services team are in constant contact with them providing full transparency to ensure they are fully aware of what is going on with the property. Our Services team work closely with our licensees to discuss move out plans, and provide support where necessary, and we also aim to rehouse our licensees in another LOWE property wherever possible, so we can assure vacant possession.
At our properties outside London, we appoint Head Guardians who act as a representative for LOWE to keep us informed and aware of any potential issues or concerns, so we can manage these accordingly to ensure our licensees are safe and happy.
Timely handover and vacant possession
When we serve formal notice to our licensees, we will first inform them by email, and then a hard copy will be sent either by post or given to them in person. A member of our Services team will speak to the licensees directly at a property meeting, to ensure they are fully aware of the next steps and how the process will work. Our team will remain in full contact with the licensees throughout their notice period, providing support and transparency, and advising of other LOWE vacancies where necessary.
We keep in regular contact with our licensees to ensure they are preparing for their move and to assess any potential overstay risks as the final day approaches. We also increase LOWE’s presence on site and the regularity of our property inspections to address any operational or security issues. The safety of our licensees and the emptying of the buildings are our top priority, and we aim to mitigate any risks early on in the hand back process. On the day of the hand back, members from our Services and Property Services teams will be on site to support the licensees with moving out and ensure the property is clear and in good condition.
We settle any existing or outstanding bills as initially agreed in our terms of business prior to the date of the hand back, and close down any council tax or utilities accounts for which we have had responsibility. If after vacant possession is achieved, security is still required, we will work with the client to advise on traditional security methods available and transfer to the responsibility of the client.
Once vacant possession is achieved and the building is handed back to our client, we send an end of project review, which includes an overview of our activities, the works completed, and good news stories about our licensees and how they benefitted from living at the property. We are committed to achieving a consistently high level of service, total compliance within health and safety requirements, and delivering tangible social impact.