The Practical Lawyer

Landlord and tenant – residential

Employees – service occupiers

The normal rule is that a tenancy arises when there is a grant of exclusive possession of land for a fixed or periodic term, in consideration of a premium or periodical payments (ie rent). However, service occupiers are not Ts because although, on the face of it, they may appear to have exclusive possession, such occupation is not exclusive because it is a representative occupation on behalf of their employer.

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Tenancy – unfair contract terms

To what extent do the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regs 1999 apply to standard-form tenancy agreements? The OFT has previously issued guidance making it clear that it takes the view the 1999 Regs can apply, but we now have High Court confirmation.

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Joint tenants – Human Rights

If one of two joint Ts gives notice to quit to L, then at common law the joint tenancy comes to an end. This means that one joint T can unilaterally end the joint tenancy – without the consent or knowledge of the other. The end result is that the other joint T will become a trespasser, and that L will be entitled to possession. This important principle was confirmed in Hammersmith & Fulham [1992].

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Service charges – dispensation

It is well known that L must consult with residential leaseholders about (i) the nature of the proposed works and (ii) the identity of, and likely costs to be charged by, the contractor that L intends to use. Section 20 LTA 1985 sets out the detailed consultation requirements by reference to the Service Charges (Consultation Requirements) Regs 2003.

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Possession – disability

To what extent can T rely upon a disability discrimination argument as a defence to a possession claim?

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Enfranchisement – head lessees

Leasehold and Commonhold Reform Act 1993 gave Ts of long leases the right to enfranchise. This could either be (i) collectively (by buying the freehold) or (ii) individually (with a 90-year lease extension). Prior to 2002, it was necessary for T to have resided in the flat for more than three years, but the removal of that requirement has opened up a whole new growth industry of enfranchisement claims.

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L’s consent – guarantor?

T wanted to assign its lease, but L insisted that the purchasing company provide a personal guarantor. Because of this the purchasing company withdrew and the question then arose as to whether T could forfeit the purchaser’s deposit.

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Rent deposit – notifying T

In a recent case, L took a rent deposit and properly placed that in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. But, L did not notify T of the details of the scheme within the 14-day statutory period.

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Windows – part of structure?

A long lease of a maisonette bought under the Right to Buy legislation contained unusual provisions relating to the windows. The lease specifically included the external windows as part of the demise.

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Disrepair – fast track costs?

The CA has neatly overcome the small claims track costs hurdle that arises in many housing disrepair cases.

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