Indecent homes and major works charges

The DCLG has released the “Social landlords reduction of service charges: mandatory and discretionary directions 2014“, in force as of today, 12 August 2014.

The upshot of the mandatory directions is that a social landlord which undertakes “repair, maintenance or improvement” wholly or partly funded by

(a) the Decent Homes Backlog Funding provided through the 2013 Spending Round; and
(b) any other assistance for the specific purpose of carrying out works of repair, maintenance or improvement provided by—
(i) any Secretary of State; or
(ii) the Homes and Communities Agency.

is limited in the amount of service charge or major works charge it can levy on its leaseholders … Read the full post

Historic Neglect

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Daejan Properties Ltd v Griffin & Anor [2014] UKUT 206 (LC) is not, perhaps, the most riveting of Upper Tribunal appeals on service charges, but it does have some useful statements and reminders along the way.

This concerned a 3 storey Victorian property in Barnet, with shops on the ground floor and 18 flats above it. “Access to the upper floor flats is by a walkway along which runs a parapet wall supported by concealed steel beams.  For very many years the steel beams corroded, unobserved and unrepaired, until in 2008 one of them failed and threatened to tip the parapet into Cricklewood Lane.  Emergency repairs were carried out … Read the full post

Three of a kind beats two of a pair

Arnold v Britton [2012] EWHC 2451(Ch) is the third holiday chalet / service charge case we’ve covered in short order (the other two are here and here). Coincidence or evidence of a growth area of work I wonder?

Anyway, back to the case. The issue was whether or not the lease provided for the payment of a service charge as defined by s.18, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, that is to say, a charge which, inter alia, “varies or may vary according to the relevant costs”.

There were five forms of lease with five forms of clause.

Version 1: “To pay to the Lessors without any deductions in … Read the full post

This seems to be taking a while

Back in May 2010, we covered the case of Philips v Francis (QBD, Truro District Registry) on whether or not holiday chalets let on long leases were “dwellings” within the meaning of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and, hence, the service charges payable by owners of the chalets were subject to terms of the 1985 Act. The High Court held that they were (see here).

The case is still on-going, and the most recent judgment was handed down in December 2012 – Philips v Francis (No.2) [2012] EWHC 3650 (Ch). And, like the first one, it promises to be quite important (although you do feel for the parties … Read the full post

Service charges ad infinitum

The Upper Tribunal is hearing what might turn out to be quite an important s.20, LTA 1985 dispensation case today (LB Southwark v over 13,000 leaseholders in the borough (our note here) and, as ever, we’ll bring it to you as soon as we have news of the result. In the meantime, the UT(LC) has been hard at it with two more cases, starting with LB Newham v Hannan and others [2011] UKUT 406 (LC).

Newham had tried to consult leaseholder in respect of a qualifying long term agreement (see s.20, LTA 1985) under which various works to 71 tower blocks would be carried out. The works were … Read the full post

It’s like waiting for a bus

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) appears to have had a sudden burst of efficiency, churning out judgments at over one a week. It wasn’t that long ago that I can remember one a month being considered an efficient turn over. The reason, it appears, is that more judges have been appointed (hurrah!). So, without further ado, we come first to Church Commissioners v Derdabi [2011] UKUT 380 (LC).

The appellants were the freeholders of a property in London and the respondent was their long leaseholder. In June 2010, the appellants issued proceedings in the county court in respect of unpaid service charges from 2007-2010. The respondent defended the proceedings on … Read the full post

They do not hear me, it’s the same old case*

Levitt and Levitt v LB Camden [2011] UKUT 366 (LC)

The Brunswick Centre is a well-known mixed residential and commercial development in London. There are almost 400 flats atop perhaps 30 or so commercial units. The flats are (for the most part) heated by a warm air re-circulation system, whereby the heat/hot water is produced by a central boiler and then pumped round the building. In about 2005, Camden (for it is they) decided that the boiler/pipework was reaching the end of its natural life and that it needed replacement.

The appellant leaseholders purchased their flat in about April 2005. They were not prepared to wait for Camden to do … Read the full post

Service charges and legal costs: am I missing something?

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Forgive me for what may turn out to be a silly question, but this is something I’ve been thinking about recently and wanted to see what everyone else thought.

Leasehold property and legal costs

A well-drafted lease will usually contain a provision requiring the tenant to pay the landlords legal costs in the event that the landlord has to take action regarding a breach of covenant (e.g. failure to pay service charges). There is, as you might imagine, considerable scope for individual variation from lease to lease (e.g. does the right to costs arise only if the landlord ? Can the costs be billed personally or via … Read the full post