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HS2 Compulsory Land Acquisition - Court of Appeal Cautionary Tale

If you receive notice that your commercial property is to be compulsorily purchased to make way for a public infrastructure project, the only wise course is to take legal advice immediately. A Court of Appeal case concerning the HS2 railway project ...

Commercial Landlords Not Liable for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Outbreak

Do landlords of commercial premises continue to be occupiers of the premises, thus owing a duty of care to tenants' visitors? In a guideline case concerning an outbreak of carbon monoxide poisoning at a beauty school, the High Court has answered that...

Forfeiture of Commercial Leases - Court of Appeal Test Case

Commercial tenants whose rights are trampled upon by their landlords are far from powerless and should seek legal advice right away. A shopkeeper who did just that after his lease was unlawfully forfeited and his stock seized won the right to substantial...

Scaffolding Triggers Commercial Tenant's 'Peaceful Enjoyment' Complaint

Included in almost every commercial lease is a covenant which confers on the tenant a right to peacefully enjoy the premises. One such provision came under close High Court analysis in the case of a dentist whose practice was encased in scaffolding whilst...

High Court Orders Restaurant Chain to Complete Commercial Lease

Does an agreement to enter into a commercial lease come to an end if the identity of the prospective landlord changes? The High Court tackled that thorny issue in a case concerning new-build restaurant premises. A restaurant chain agreed with pension...

Landlord Fends Off Leasehold Enfranchisement Risk - Supreme Court Ruling

Most leases contain covenants that forbid tenants from doing certain things without their landlords' consent, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld. The meaning and effect of such provisions came under Supreme Court analysis in an important test...

Neighbourhood Plans - Court Postpones Local Referendum in Legal First

Neighbourhood plans are an increasingly common means by which local people are given the chance to express their views on the future character and appearance of the areas where they live. However, in a legal first, the High Court ordered postponement of a...

Email Footer Counts as Signature, High Court Rules

In a recent property case that will have a bearing on all contractual matters, the High Court ruled that a footer automatically appended to an email amounted to a legal signature and led to a contract for the sale of land being formed. A couple who owned...

Upper Tribunal Paves Way for Former Corporate HQ's Conversion Into 114 Flats

Record employment levels mean strong demand for office space, but the need for more new homes is perhaps even more pressing. A case concerning proposals to convert an office block into 114 flats highlighted the difficulty of balancing those requirements. ...

Legal Landscape is Complex When Tenants Seek to Buy Freehold of Flats

Flat tenants in certain circumstances have the right to band together and acquire the freehold of the blocks in which they live. However, as a High Court decision showed , the process of doing so is replete with legal pitfalls and those who fail to take...

High Court Overturns Planning Decision for Bungalows Development

It may come as a surprise to many that local authorities are under no statutory obligation to give reasons for their planning decisions. However, as a High Court case concerning a residential development showed , a lack of explanation can render such...

Know your rights

The Government has issued a new consultation paper which could indicate the end of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (“ASTs”). The paper asks for views on the impact of removing ASTs and whether they should be ended without tenant fault, whether the...

Agricultural Tenancies Are Complex - Always Seek Professional Advice

When a farmer dies, close relatives are in certain circumstances entitled to succeed to any agricultural tenancies he or she held. However, strict time limits and other procedural rules apply to the exercise of that right, which is why bereavement should not...

Refused Planning Permission? You Are Entitled to Know the Reason Why

A fundamental principle of good government is that anyone on the receiving end of an adverse decision is entitled to know why it was made. In a case on point, the High Court came to the aid of a housing developer who could only speculate as to the reason...

Essex law firm Paralegal has exam success

Emma Rayner, a Paralegal at Birkett Long, has passed the last of her Level 3 Diploma in Law & Practice exams with the Cilex Law School. Emma is now an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and will continue to work in the firm’s...

Reasonable Endeavours Clauses Can Have Teeth

Unreasonable delay in fulfilling the terms of a contract is an unwise policy, as a recent dispute that ended up in the Court of Appeal shows. When a developer wished to build an ice-skating rink, its first priority was to secure a clear title to the...

Contract Adjudications are an Alternative to Litigation, Not an Addition

Contract adjudications can provide a swift and cost-effective alternative to litigation. Adjudication decisions are not immune from error but, as a High Court case showed , they are meant to be final and those who challenge them face an uphill struggle. ...

High Court Scotches Plans for £1.8 Million Holiday Park Expansion

Planning decisions would be unpredictable and merely arbitrary if they were not based on carefully considered policies that have been subjected to public scrutiny. The High Court made that point in scotching £1.8 million plans for the expansion of a...

No-Fault Eviction to End: Landlord and Tenant Law Revisions Likely

Talk to a tenant and the lack of security of tenure is often brought up as a significant issue. For landlords, the inability easily to obtain possession of a tenanted property can often cause angst. There is little dispute that a good-quality, settled...

Business tenancies - are you at risk?

As Brexit rumbles on, the UK’s financial position remains in the spotlight. In particular, the commercial property sector faces its own challenges and for both commercial landlords and tenants alike, the continued uncertainty will no doubt cause some...

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...