Southall Court (Residents) Ltd v Tiwari and another  UKUT 218 (LC) will, I suspect, become a bit of a landlord favorite case over the next few years as it contains two passages that they’re likely to be rather pleased about.
Southall Court is a block of 48 flats in Middlesex. The landlord sought a determination under s.27A(3), LTA 1985, that £2,000 (odd) of service charges were payable on account of major works. The LVT found that just under £500 was payable. The main difference relates to roof repairs. The landlord said that the roof needed total replacement. The LVT disagreed, and took the view that the roof could last another 12-18 months and reduced the interim service charges accordingly.
The landlord successfully appealed to the Upper Tribunal. The landlord had a “wide discretion” as to the programme of works to be adopted and, so long as the decision was within the range of reasonableness, it would be unimpeachable. It could not be said that 12-18 months useful life was sufficient to mean that it would be unreasonable to now commence replacement works.
In addition, there was a (albeit small) sinking fund to contribute to the works; this was a relevnat factor which should have been taken into account.
Further, the leaseholders had been consulted under s.20, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and had not made any comments about the need to replace the roof. “In the absences of any objections during the consultation process, a landlord is entitled to conclude that there is no serious objection to the proposed works.” The tenants are under a “duty” to participate in the consultation process.
It followed that the appeal was allowed.
See what I mean about the good news for landlords. The “range of reasonableness” stuff isn’t new (‘tho it’s always useful to have it clearly stated), but the point about the obligation on tenants to participate in the s.20 consultation process (with the implication that it’ll harm an argument about reasonableness under s.19) is a new one. Expect to see this case cited in all landlord skeleton arguments…