Category Archive Property – Landlord & Tenant

Landlords May Escape Criminal Prosecution

Residential freeholders of leasehold properties are to escape certain criminal prosecutions if the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill that was introduced yesterday comes into force. All criminal sanctions will be removed in respect of service charge accounts format and supporting document inspection rights.

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Construction Contracts Drop

The fall in the number of construction contracts has been evidenced by a 25% insolvency increase in building firms since the pandemic.

Escalating inflation, delays in significant infrastructure projects, a drop in the construction of new homes and the cost increments of materials are the chief culprits here.

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Commercial Leases

A large commercial property company in the West End of London has reported its tenants are generating sales in all sectors at a pace far in excess of pre-pandemic conditions. It has noticed a significant increase in lettings.

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Property Boost in London – Residential & Commercial

Flat sales in London are up nearly a quarter compared to pre-pandemic conditions and house sales are showing a smaller yet still significant increase. In prime central London renters are being forced to pay more as there are fewer deals on offer, with particular demand in up to two bed properties. Suburban rents have increased even more so.

New leases and renewals are being reported by some of the commercial property mega corporations with rents holding firm even though foot fall remains slightly subdued due to hybrid working. Recent builds especially are of interest.

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Landlord and Tenant

The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) has the jurisdiction to resolve service charge reasonableness disputes such as apportionment and that any agreements on this and other service charge questions that might have been agreed to in the lease are void for FTT challenge purposes, was held by the Supreme Court recently.

To arrive at this decision the Court had to examine section 27A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:-

27A Liability to pay service charges: jurisdiction

(1) An application may be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether a service charge is payable and, if it is, as to—

(a) the person by whom it is payable,

(b) the person to whom it is payable,

(c) the amount which is payable,

(d) the date at or by which it is payable, and

(e) the manner in which it is payable.

(2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not any payment has been made.

(3) An application may also be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether, if costs were incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or management of any specified description, a service charge would be payable for the costs and, if it would, as to—

(a) the person by whom it would be payable,

(b) the person to whom it would be payable,

(c) the amount which would be payable,

(d) the date at or by which it would be payable, and

(e) the manner in which it would be payable.

(4) No application under subsection (1) or (3) may be made in respect of a matter which—

(a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,

(b) has been, or is to be, referred to arbitration pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party,

(c) has been the subject of determination by a court, or

(d) has been the subject of determination by an arbitral tribunal pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement.

(5) But the tenant is not to be taken to have agreed or admitted any matter by reason only of having made any payment.

(6) An agreement by the tenant of a dwelling (other than a post-dispute arbitration agreement) is void in so far as it purports to provide for a determination—

(a) in a particular manner, or

(b) on particular evidence,

of any question which may be the subject of an application under subsection (1) or (3).

(7) The jurisdiction conferred on the appropriate tribunal in respect of any matter by virtue of this section is in addition to any jurisdiction of a court in respect of the matter.

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Landlord & Tenant – Evictions of Persons Unknown Can Proceed

Landlords can now evict travellers from their land without having precise knowledge of their identities. This was the essence of a judgment of the Court of Appeal this month which said that the injunctions were lawful.

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Landlord and Tenant – Commercial

Commercial tenants have been given a stay of execution by the Government on unpaid rent and evictions, that have accumulated during the pandemic, until March 2022. This has been instituted so that serious negotiations between the parties can now ensue to mitigate any credit damage that would be caused by court judgments.

In March a new arbitration process will commence in an attempt to provide closure for any stubborn organisations.

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Landlord & Tenant – Eviction Proceedings Recommence

Possession cases which had been stayed since the 26th March 2020 due to COVID-19 recommenced on the 21st September 2020 in the county court.

A list of priority cases has been formulated:-

i) Cases with allegations of anti-social behaviour, including Ground 7A of Schedule 2 to the Housing Act 1988 and Section 84A of the Housing Act 1985.
ii) Cases with extreme alleged rent arrears accrued, that is, arrears equal to at least
(i) 12 months’ rent, or
(ii) 9 months’ rent where that amounts to more than 25% of a private landlord’s total annual income from any source.
iii) Cases involving alleged squatters, illegal occupiers or persons unknown.
iv) Cases involving an allegation of domestic violence where possession of the property is alleged to be important for particular reasons which are set out in the claim form (and with domestic violence agencies alerted).
v) Cases with allegations of fraud or deception.
vi) Cases with allegations of unlawful subletting.
vii) Cases with allegations of abandonment of the property, non-occupation or death of defendant.
viii) Cases concerning what was allocated by an authority as ‘temporary accommodation’ and is specifically needed by the authority for reallocation as ‘temporary accommodation’.

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The Masters of the Rolls

On the 31st July 2020 the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Her Majesty The Queen had been pleased to approve the appointment of Sir Geoffrey Vos as the Master of the Rolls from the 11th January 2021 in succession to Sir Terence Etherton.

It is interesting to note that 6 out of 7 of the most recent incumbents of this judicial office have been of the jewish faith the others being Lords Woolf, Phillips, Neuberger and Dyson.

We find that jewish solicitors are often particularly sought after because of their perceived quality traits of intelligence, shrewdness, toughness and integrity.

If you are looking to find such a solicitor please do not hesitate to call us.

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Tenant Forces Landlord to Enforce Lease Covenants

A lessee wanted to refurbish her flat that involved heavy structural work that could possibly have damaged the building (i.e. more than usual refurbishments for which permission would have needed to be sought from the landlord and cannot be refused if reasonable). She was given permission by the landlord to do so. A neighbouring lessee objected saying the landlord had no right to give permission for such onerous work without the consent of all of the lessees and the Supreme Court agreed.

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