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Landlord and tenant – residential

Insurance – ‘reasonably incurred’?

L had a block insurance policy covering the whole of its property portfolio. One of its blocks was assessed at £12,000, split between the 16 flats. However, Ts produced evidence of comparable policies of between £2,000–£3,000. L’s response was that it had acted reasonably in obtaining a block policy.

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Deposits – pitfalls

An article in the NLJ points out how the tenancy deposit rules (changed by Localism Act 2011) can create a booby trap for blameless and innocent Ls:

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Selective licensing – ‘houses’

The ‘selective licensing’ regime is often wrongly referred to as ‘landlord licensing’. It derives from HA 2004, which gives LAs the power to designate any part of their areas as being subject to ‘selective licensing’ when they are concerned about any range of social evils (eg low housing demand, poor housing conditions, antisocial behaviour). Once such a scheme is in effect, then all private sector Ls in that area must obtain licences and comply with the scheme.

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Service charge – on-account demands

LTA 1985 imposes an 18-month time limit for service charge demands. Insofar as a service charge demand relates to expenditure incurred, more than 18 months previously, T can ignore it (s20B(1)). However, under s20B(2) there is an exception if L notifies the T in writing within the 18-month period that certain costs have been incurred and that T will subsequently have to pay them (ie an on-account demand for estimated expenditure).  

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Sham licence – offence

Sometimes a letting agent will tell an occupier that the property is being offered as a licence, rather than as an assured shorthold. This, in turn, will mean that deposits are not protected in a tenancy deposit scheme.

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Student accommodation – service charges

The UT has held that leases of student bed-sits, with shared communal areas, were not ‘separate dwellings’ and so did not qualify for service charge protection under LTA 1985.  

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Possession – High Court enforcement

If a possession order is made in the county court, L may transfer the case to the High Court for enforcement by a High Court enforcement officer (previously called a sheriff). This will usually result in a quicker eviction than if a county court bailiff is used.  

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Roof – disrepair

Suppose your client is the leaseholder (T) of a flat on the top floor of a block of flats, and sub-lets the flat on an assured shorthold. The sub-T says bad weather has broken some of the tiles on the roof, causing a leak into the flat which has damaged the plaster and ceiling, as well as some of sub-T’s possessions. Is T liable to sub-T for any of the damage?  

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Collective enfranchisement – intention?

Two flat owners bought the freehold via collective enfranchisement. They signed a declaration of trust to hold the freehold in trust as tenants in common in equal shares. Subsequently, one of them refused the other’s request to agree to a 999-year lease extension.

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Right to manage – e-mail claim

A right to manage company must serve its claim on L, and also each qualifying T. As an example of yet another technical objection that could be raised, an L recently argued that the RTM notice was invalid because it had been served by e-mail on the qualifying Ts (rather than by service of an original notice).

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