Under the Spotlight with Jake Le Brocq
We asked Jake about changes in the real estate sector and the strong links between Jersey and London.
The Praxis Jersey office has been extensively involved in administering UK real estate structures for many years. Can you give us a brief overview of the types of structures and properties that you have been involved with?
We have been heavily involved in property development over the past five years typically in joint venture arrangements between an equity partner and a property developer ranging from acquisition of office blocks with the intention of demolishing and re-developing or land acquisitions.
We have experience in a number of sectors including build-to-rent commercial mixed use and care homes for the retirement community. Typically these are structured using Jersey companies UK Limited Liability Partnerships (where we provide administration and accounting services with the client on the Board) or Jersey Property Unit Trusts (JPUTs).
Our involvement begins at the very start during the pre-application/pre-development stage all through the development/construction stages and then the operational side selling units within the developed 'block' working closely with advisors to ensure a seamless process for our clients.
Over the past five years the UK has enacted several changes to the tax treatment of residential and commercial real estate owned by non-residents as well as by corporate vehicles generally. How much of an impact has this had on your business?
We have seen a decline in the typical 'residential property holding structures' usually used by clients for 'holiday homes'. We tend to see clients acquire commercial property for development purposes for long-term holds rather than for rental yield. Following the changes to the tax treatments we have also seen clients take their property structures 'onshore' however given their long-term relationships with us as a firm this has either led to us still doing all the administration and accounting work (with external directors) or with an opportunity for our UK office to manage developments to ensure UK tax residency. The 'ease of administration' seems to be a key driver for a number of clients and therefore I would say it has impacted our business positively.
The firm has a strong reputation for being experts in the administration of real estate structures. Now that many of the previous tax advantages have been eliminated to what extent are real estate clients still wanting to use Jersey-based services?
I touched on this briefly in the previous answer however it generally comes down to the long-standing relationships our clients have with us and our proven track record in the administration of these types of structures. We have a number of clients where our sole involvement is administration/accounting services and all decision-making is made by the clients themselves as board members following the previous tax advantages having been eliminated. In this scenario we also arrange and draft all board meeting minutes run audits and provide investor reporting on a monthly basis to provide a seamless service for our clients. It's about safeguarding assets and investor funds and so therefore the regulatory environment is key in tandem with the skill sets within our firm. This is the main driver and has been for a number of years.
The concept of administering UK-resident structures from Jersey whether those are UK vehicles or UK-resident foreign vehicles requires a well co-ordinated service combining the services of the Jersey and London offices. How does this work in practice?
We have a very close relationship with the London office whether it be them providing registered office/company secretarial services or being on the boards of structures that we administer. The key for us is a seamless service for our clients and therefore we provide one contact line for our clients (i.e. through Jersey) and we deal with the London office behind the scenes to ensure that our clients know who their main ports of contact are. Being able to provide a 'one-stop shop' service to our clients across our jurisdictions and service lines is one of our key strengths.
Are (JPUTs) still popular?
JPUTs seem to be coming back into structure papers over the past few years due to their hybrid position. We have seen quite a few JPUTs recently used within corporate structures for key UK real estate developments (usually in the investing structure rather than the asset-holding entity itself).
Please note that this article is intended to provide a general overview of the matters to which it relates. It is not intended as professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. Any engagement in respect of our professional services is subject to our standard terms and conditions of business and the provision of all necessary due diligence. © Praxis 2023