Latest News

Missed Deadlines Mean Missed Opportunities

Gerry Rafferty famously claimed that 'if you get it wrong, you'll get it right next time', but a recent construction dispute shows that this is often far from true in legal disputes: often, if you get it wrong, there is no 'next time'. The facts were...

Possession Granted When Tenant Claims Argument is Over Same Facts

It is very common for tenants who run up rent arrears to effectively be given a second chance by the courts when facing an application by the landlord to repossess the premises. Often, such applications are stayed subject to compliance with a revised payment...

What Exactly Is the 'Curtilage' of a Building?

Whether land is or is not within the curtilage of a building can be a decisive factor in many planning cases. The High Court considered the meaning of the word in ruling that a large hardstanding used for storing fencing materials did not fall within the...

Defective Premises and Landlords' Duties - Guideline Court of Appeal Ruling

Landlords have a legal duty to keep the premises they let to tenants in a safe condition and if they fail to do so can be held liable for any injury or loss that results. Recently, a local authority was ordered to pay compensation to a council tenant who...

Adjudication Payments Must Be Made First

Payments under building contracts can be a touchy issue and have led to numerous disputes. Adjudication proceedings are intended to make the process of resolving building disputes simpler, but they themselves are replete with legal challenges on a whole...

Air Quality Targets and the Planning Regime - Court of Appeal Test Case

The Government is duty-bound by European law to ensure that specified air quality standards are met as quickly as possible. However, the Court of Appeal has ruled in an important test case that that duty does not extend to a general obligation to refuse...

Balancing Noise Nuisance Against the Needs of Industry - High Court Ruling

Industrial processes can be noisy and those responsible for them frequently worry that complaints from neighbouring residents will affect their businesses. However, as a High Court case showed , such concerns and the needs of commerce in general do carry...

Major works: procedures in Mixed Use Developments

When carrying out major works, there are specific procedures that must be followed for residential property, that do not need to be followed for commercial property. Landlords must ensure they follow the correct procedure for residential property otherwise...

Trading in the Winter Period - A Cautionary Note for Landlords

Weak economic growth and increasing competition is still wreaking havoc in the High Street and the quarter that starts in January is often make or break for retailers as it is traditionally the worst trading quarter of their year. Many commercial properties...

Questions for developers to consider in mixed use developments

When carrying out mixed use developments, there are a handful of points that a developer might want to consider at the outset (to include but not limited to): Who is going to provide the services? Landlord, management company or managing agent? Will the...

Landlord's Redevelopment Plans Must Not Be Conditional

A recent case in which a landlord sought repossession of a property from its tenant on the ground that it intended to redevelop the property has gained a great deal of attention, but may not be as important as it first seems. The facts of the case were that...

Court of Appeal Guidance on Use of Pay Less Notices

When a construction dispute arises and a pay less notice is issued, the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 requires that the notice should specify the sum considered to be due and the basis on which that sum is calculated. In a recent...

What is a 'New Building' in Planning Terms? Court of Appeal Guidance

Can a building which incorporates parts of structures previously on the same site be described as 'new'? In upholding an enforcement notice that required total demolition of three residential buildings, constructed in breach of planning control, the ...

Tenancy or Licence? Security Company Wins Possession Order

The distinction between tenancies and licences to occupy premises is crucial but not always easy to draw. A High Court case where this proved central concerned an agreement by which a security company allowed a man to occupy a vacant office block in order...

Late Appeal is Void Appeal for Property Owner

When the owner of a property that had been designated as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) by his local council in 2001 chose to challenge that ruling some 15 years later, the council refused to review the decision. The property owner claimed to have had...

Forfeiture for Rent Arrears - Commercial Landlords Take Note!

In a decision that will be essential reading for property professionals, the High Court has ruled that landlords who invoke the statutory commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR) regime may thereby waive any right they have to forfeit leases. Landlords who...

Landlord Succeeds in Challenge to HMO Licence Fee

An increasing number of local authorities run licensing regimes to ensure the quality of accommodation provided in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). An important High Court ruling has, however, established that licence fees levied on landlords must not...

Restrictive Covenants Are Not Necessarily Insurmountable

Property title deeds often contain restrictions on future use of the land and one of the most common is a requirement that only one house can be built on a single plot. It may be thought that such a restriction must be adhered to forever, but if the...

Changes to the Definition of HMO - Landlords Take Note

With burgeoning numbers of students and a continuing housing shortage, residential property for letting has been a popular investment for several years. Many such investments are in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and landlords of large HMOs (which are...

Registration of Property Owned by Foreign Entities

Under draft legislation now in Parliament (the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill), the Government is intending to establish a register of the beneficial ownership of properties in the UK where the property is owned by an overseas entity. The general...

Unilateral Mistake - High Court Rectifies Terms of Commercial Lease

Signing leases is a serious business and both landlords and tenants are expected to live with their terms, however onerous they may be. However, as a High Court case illustrated, judges have the power to rectify terms if an obvious mistake has been made. A...

Court Refuses to Act as Referee to Determine Appropriate Repair Scheme

Anyone who has bought a new build property will be familiar with a 'snag list' of items that should be rectified. Normally these don't present too many issues, but when the snags are significant, and the new build is one in which there is a...

When is a Year More Than a Year?

When a landlord appointed agents to manage properties in London, it did so under an agreement for 12 months, which was specified to continue on a yearly basis until terminated by either party giving the required notice. The landlord failed, however, to give...

Landlords Caught by Tenant's Environmental Failings

A landlord that ignores the potential for problems caused by the activities of its tenant does so at its peril, as a recent case demonstrated conclusively . It concerned a company that recycled mattresses on a site it rented. It lacked any sort of...

Business Owners - How Secure Are You Against Sudden Eviction?

Business owners that fail to take legal advice and occupy premises on an uncertain basis are always at risk. In a High Court case exactly on point , a business college found itself locked out of its office block and embroiled in a costly dispute with the...

New Planning Rules to Benefit Developers

Obtaining planning permission is often a tricky process and the delight in getting permission can be tempered by the local council adding a 'pre-commencement' condition specifying something that must be done. The result is a planning permission...

The Digital Economy Act

At the end of 2017, the Digital Economy Act 2017 came into force, impacting upon all land connected with electronic communication networks. The Act itself considers the rights of service operators, such as BT or EE, over all land that holds, for example,...

You're too noisy!

Are you concerned that your business is causing a nuisance which could lead to a complaint or action being taken against you? With considerable pressure for new housing in the region, several of our clients, and businesses in general, have raised...

Landlords - Children Count Too!

When a landlord appealed against his prosecution for breaking a planning enforcement notice with regard to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) he owns, he used a rather novel argument to justify exceeding the limitation on the number of residents of the...

Ground rent increases causing issues for leaseholders

  Recently, there has been a wide range of media coverage concerning ground rent clauses within leases and, more specifically, concerning how the ground rent increases over the term of that lease.    Ground rent is usually an annual sum...

Oral Contract Existed as a Matter of Fact

When a decision is made as to what the facts are in a particular case, the judgment regarding those facts is normally accepted as not being able to be revisited in subsequent proceedings unless it was manifestly unreasonable or unfair, or subsequent evidence...

Faulty Electrics Necessitate Lease Interpretation

Many commercial leases provide that the formal document represents the entirety of the agreement, superseding any prior agreements that may have been reached. An important Court of Appeal ruling has, however, made clear that such clauses do not preclude...

One Reasonable Condition is Sufficient for Landlord

When a tenant wishes to assign a lease, it is usual for the landlord's consent to be required, and that consent can be withheld if there are sufficiently good grounds for so doing. In a recent case, a landlord was asked by a tenant to agree to the...

Estate agent referral fee ban?

In addition to the ministry’s proposal on dual representation last year, there were also talks about banning referral fees from estate agents in an attempt to improve the conveyancing process.  The idea behind the ban was prompted by concerns...

Dual representation off the table for conveyancing transactions

The Law Gazette recently reported that the idea of dual representation is now off the table following a report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.   Last year, the idea of a single conveyancer acting for both the seller and...

Gifted deposits to get on the property ladder

With an increasing property market, more and more buyers appear to be receiving financial gifts from friends and relatives to help them get on the property ladder. It is imperative that your solicitor is made aware of gifted deposits as early as possible. ...

Tenants Succeed in Avoiding Insurance Charges

When tenants discovered that their landlord had bought insurance over their flats, including the structure of the building, when they had already purchased insurance cover for themselves, the resulting argument ended up in the Upper Tribunal (UT) . The...

Court of Appeal Uses Real World Valuation Principles

An empty office block in Blackpool was given a rateable value (RV) of £490,000 by the local valuation officer, who made the valuation based on the expected rent for which the building could be let. The valuation was based on an assumed demand for a...

Incorrect Procedure Stymies Landlord

It is unusual when a case raises two different but significant points. A recent case dealt with issues raised when a landlord sought to obtain possession by 'peaceable re-entry' and the forfeiture of a lease when ground rent was not being paid. It...

In Principle Planning Permission

One of the bugbears of UK planning law has always been that a lot of work has to be done before a planning application can be considered because an outline planning application must be made, except for certain proposed brownfield developments. The process...

Property Rights Wrangle Ends Up in Court

Dense tangles of rights of way, easements and other property rights are inevitable in the rabbit warren of heavily populated cities and are a common source of strife. Feelings ran particularly high in one High Court case concerning toilet facilities shared...

Absolute Discretion Has Limits

Construction disputes are a rich source of argument in the courts, and where the contract affords one party a 'discretion' with regard to its rights or obligations under the contract, disagreement can arise as to when this becomes operative....

Charges Must Be Reasonable to be Reasonably Incurred

The leases relating to tenancies in blocks of flats and similar buildings will normally require the tenants to make a reasonable contribution towards the 'estate' costs of the property. The estate costs are those which apply to the whole of the...

Follow Proper Planning Procedures or Else

An argument over a planning permission for a small rural development has necessitated the intervention of the Court of Appeal , which confirmed that a council that failed to follow its own planning guidelines could not grant permission for a development...

Contract Terms Clarified by Court

No amount of careful drafting can be guaranteed to iron out disagreements as to the true meaning of contract terms and when a dispute occurs it may require the intervention of a judge to bring clarity. One case exactly on point concerned a contract for the...

Council's Drafting Error Opens Way for Change of Use

Planning permissions mean what they say and judges are very reluctant to imply terms into them, even in order to correct flawed drafting. That point was made by the High Court as it opened the way for a former DIY store to be used for food retailing. ...

Motive seems irrelevant when it comes to landlords and the courts

Business tenants can be refused a new lease if their landlord wants to redevelop the property.  Keith Songhurst examines a recent case that appears to strengthen the hand of the landlord. Business tenants are usually entitled to renew their leases...

Economic Reality Telling Factor in Planning Appeal

Aesthetic opinions differ dramatically and, in planning disputes, one property owner's dream is very often anathema to another. That was certainly so in one case in which the Court of Appeal opened the way for the demolition and replacement of a...

Business Rates Reform on the Agenda?

There has been much grumbling over the years about the fact that where a tenant occupies multiple floors of a building, those floors will normally be treated as separate premises for the calculation of business rates. This normally produces larger rates...

Housing Developments - Economic Benefits v Environmental Harm

Housing developments are almost always controversial and, in deciding whether or not to approve them, planners have to balance environmental and other objections against social and economic benefits. That was certainly so in one case in which the High...

Landlord's Motivation for Work Not in Point, Rules Court

A recent case decided by the High Court will (if not overturned on appeal) have potential implications for some commercial tenants seeking renewals of their tenancies. It involved a dealer in textiles that occupies areas in the ground and basement floors...

Student Bedsits Are Not 'Separate Dwellings'

In a decision of great importance to landlords of student accommodation , a tribunal has found that bedsits with communal facilities are not separate dwellings. The ruling meant that the tribunal had no power to consider an attempt by a group of students to...

Court of Appeal Applies Commercial Clarity to Contract Terms

Large construction or maintenance projects rarely proceed without at least a few surprises and the contracts for such projects are generally drafted with such eventualities in mind. One often-used technique is to use minimum performance level agreements,...

SIPPs and Your Business Property

The Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) was introduced in order to give people far more control over how their pension pots are invested and have proven to be very popular with pension savers. One common use of the SIPP in a business context is to sell...

Landlord Faces Six-Figure Bill for Notice to Quit Error

Correct service of legal documents may seem like a technicality to non-lawyers, but it is of crucial importance and should only be entrusted to professionals. In one case that resoundingly proves the point , a landlord who served a notice to quit on the...

Beware of your repairs!

When a commercial property lease is granted, a landlord will want the tenant to take on the responsibility of repairs – a task that can be done in various ways.   If an entire building is being let then the lease will usually specify that the...

It Was Wrong, But Whose Fault Was It?

When a person takes professional advice and a loss follows, it is normal to look for compensation through the professional's indemnity insurance policy. In order for the professional to be liable, they have to have owed the claimant a duty of care and their...

Procedural Failure Means Court of Appeal Hearing for RTM Company

The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 gives tenants of qualifying premises the right to have the landlord's management functions transferred to a right to manage (RTM) company so that they can take responsibility for managing their premises. The...

The signs and procedures guide for landlords

With 16,502 companies becoming insolvent in 2016, it comes as no surprise that landlords want clarification on how to protect themselves, their property and what to do if their tenant becomes insolvent. What do I look out for if I have suspicions my tenant...

Annoyed With a Tenant? Don't Take the Law Into Your Own Hands!

The law protects tenants against mistreatment and landlords who ignore their tenants' rights are courting disaster. In one case that strikingly proved the point , a landlord who unlawfully entered his tenant's bedsit and threw out his possessions ended up...

Restrictive Covenant Modification Enables Home Development

Restrictive covenants often date back many years and a delicate balance sometimes has to be struck between their enforcement and the public interest in efficient use of the increasingly scarce supply of suitable land. In a recent case, the Upper Tribunal...

Council Obliged to Give Reasons for Approving Stadium Development

There is no statutory requirement for local authorities to give reasons for granting planning consent. However, an important Court of Appeal case concerning a football club's controversial plans to build a new stadium in the Green Belt showed that there is...

JCT 2016 building contract changes

The 2016 JCT building contracts have been released over the past few months and the updated Standard Building Contract suite was released on 22 September 2016. This suite has now replaced the 2011 Standard Building Contracts and all subsequent amendments....

Law Update - Rent review provisions in NHS funded leases

NHS practitioners should bear in mind that when they lease a GP surgery any rent review has to be subject to the approval of the District Valuer.  There is little point, therefore, in seeking approval of the terms of your lease with the NHS unless it...

Penal Landlord and Tenant Agreement Struck Down by High Court

Penal contractual terms that seek to impose exorbitant or unconscionable obligations are generally not worth the paper they are written on. The High Court found one such term unenforceable in the context of a side letter to a retail lease. A tenant had...

Can't Agree a Commercial Rent? Court Steps In

Calculation of commercial rents is more of an art than a science and disputes are sadly common. However, as one case involving a Polish-themed bar in Central London showed, judges are always there to promote peace if negotiations fail. Following the grant...

Landlord Repairs Must Be Reasonable, Not Most Economical

A long leasehold tenant has had mixed fortunes in opposing a charge for more than £55,000 after her council landlord undertook a major programme of repairs to the block in which she lives. Under the terms of her lease, the council was required to keep...

Ignore the Planners and See What Happens

A landlord who decided to go ahead with a property development after the planners had turned it down ended up significantly worse off after he was successfully prosecuted. Having had his application to turn his existing property into nine flats rejected,...

Corner Shops Under Residential Development Pressure

Convenience stores are a common sight on urban street corners and provide a much valued service, but they are vulnerable given the ever increasing demand for more new homes. In one case, a shopkeeper failed in a High Court bid to overturn prior approval to...

Doing a Deal? Professional Drafting Avoids Costly Ambiguity!

There is little point in agreeing to settle a legal dispute if the wording of the deal is so ambiguous that it simply creates further scope for disagreement. In one High Court case that illustrated the need for clear professional drafting , both sides in a...

Can Developments That Conflict With Local Plans Ever Be 'Sustainable'?

In a guideline decision on the correct interpretation of the sustainability provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the High Court has scotched plans for 150 new homes on the edge of a market town. Planning permission for the...

Recording Studio Must Live With Demolition Project Next Door

In ever more densely packed urban areas, hardly any development can take place without treading on someone's toes. The point was illustrated by one High Court case in which a recording studio complained that a demolition and flat-building project next door...

Incorrect Procedure Can Render Possession Proceedings Voidable

Landlords frequently need to evict tenants, and where a possession order is sought because the tenant breaches conditions in the lease (typically for reasons of behaviour which impacts negatively on other tenants), the order will often be postponed or...

Tenants First - Or Else

When the landlord of a residential building wishes to sell it (make a 'relevant disposal') with the associated tenancies left intact, it has a legal duty under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 to offer it to the tenants first. Many landlords might be...

Breaking bad!

Commercial leases often give the tenant a ‘break right’ to end the lease early on service of a written notice. The tenant’s right to break is often dependant on the tenant meeting various conditions set out in the lease, one of the...