The Practical Lawyer

Landlord and tenant – residential

Airbnb – unlawful letting

There has been an important Upper Tribunal decision on whether long-lease Ts can do short-term holiday lets (eg Airbnb). The conclusion is that, in most instances, such lettings will be in breach of the covenants in the lease.

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Non-derogation – right to sunlight?

A long residential lease will contain covenants for quiet enjoyment and also for non-derogation from grant (although case law shows that these amount to much the same thing). To what extent can T use such covenants to thwart a potential development by L?

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Consent to assign – L’s costs?

Some long leases require T to get L’s consent to assign. But, can L charge a high admin fee?

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Repair – notice to L

Any residential L has an obligation ‘to keep in repair the structure and exterior of any part of the building in which L has an estate or interest’ (s11 LTA 1985).

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Service charge – consultation

Two points on service charge consultation:

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Service charges – estoppel?

For several years, the management company mistakenly used an incorrect method of apportioning service charge costs. Since this had happened for several years and T had not objected (despite other litigation) it was held that T was estopped from objecting to that apportionment – even though it was contrary to the terms of the lease.

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Costs – First-Tier Tribunal

What is the position on the award of costs in the FTT? Previously, there was a strict £500 ceiling, with costs only being awarded if conduct was frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process. The position was changed by the introduction of the 2013 Rules which abolished the £500 cap and allowed costs ‘if a person has acted unreasonably in bringing, defending or conducting proceedings’ (r13).

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Costs – use s146 instead?

The Upper Tribunal has made it clear that the FTT will only make a costs order in exceptional circumstances. But, can L use the wording of the lease to claim the costs (ie on a contractual basis)?

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Signature – electronic

In July 2016 the Law Society issued guidance on the use of electronic signatures, so as to encourage their more widespread acceptance. The advice is general and does not favour one specific method of electronic signature; moreover, it covers devices such as a picture of a signature, e-signing software and other methods.

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Service charge – L’s name and address

Under s47 LTA 1987 a service charge demand will be invalid if it does not contain the name and address of L. But, failure to include L’s name and address is not a fatal error – the demand remains invalid until such time as the name and address are given, but once that information is provided the service charge will then become due.

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