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Landlord and tenant – residential

Service charge – legal costs?

Most leases will contain provisions for the recovery of legal costs from defendant Ts. However, the scope of cost recovery clauses varies, and leases rarely provide for full indemnity costs to be recovered by L. Instead, the most common cost recovery provision will be a variant of this: ‘to pay to the lessor all costs charges and expenses at any time during the said term incurred by the lessor in or in contemplation of any proceedings under s146 LPA 1925’.

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Service – repair or replace?

L should look at what is ‘reasonable’ when deciding whether to replace or repair windows; if both courses of action are ‘reasonable’ then L can choose whichever they prefer.

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Assured T – two homes?

An assured T must be occupying the dwelling house as their ‘only or principal home’. If T has two homes, then it is for the court to decide which is the ‘principal’ home.

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Energy efficiency – the exceptions

The minimum energy efficiency requirements mean that, from April 2018, Ls will no longer be able to grant tenancies to properties with an EPC of F or G. This will cover the extension or renewal of a tenancy to an existing T – and it will also include a T who has a fixed term which expires, and then becomes a periodic tenancy. Moreover, from April 2020 it will not be possible to even continue letting a property to an existing T if it has an EPC of F or G.

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Grenfell Tower – long leases

The Grenfell Tower tragedy has focused attention on the fire risks associated with multi-storey blocks of flats. While the emphasis has been on publicly owned blocks, there are likely to be many privately owned blocks that would benefit from fire safety improvements (eg removal of cladding; installation of sprinkler systems). If those private blocks have been sold off on long leases, then that is likely to raise considerable difficulties in terms of how the works are to be carried out.

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Roof redevelopment – RTM?

Ls often seek to develop the roof space of their existing properties. This inevitably leads to arguments with existing long-lessees.

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Energy efficiency – ‘no funding’ exemption

The minimum energy efficiency requirements mean that, from April 2018, Ls will no longer be able to grant tenancies to properties with an EPC of F or G. This will cover the extension or renewal of a tenancy to an existing T – and it will also include a T who has a fixed term which expires, and then becomes a periodic tenancy. Moreover, from April 2020 it will not be possible to even continue letting a property to an existing T if it is an EPC of F or G.

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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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