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Landlord and tenant – residential

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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Service charges – consultation with sub-Ts?

LTA 1987 requires L to consult with T in respect of ‘qualifying works’ or before entering into a ‘qualifying long-term agreement’.

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Intermediate L – repair obligation?

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

But, how does this work in the context of an intermediate L (eg a buy-to-let investor who is T under a long lease of a flat, who then sub-lets to a short-term T under an assured shorthold tenancy)? The answer is that s11 applies to that intermediate L, to the extent that the intermediate L has an ‘estate or interest’ in the property. Thus, if the assured shorthold T is injured because of a defect in part of the premises in which the intermediate L has an ‘estate or interest’ then damages will be recoverable under s11; conversely, if the injury occurs on part of the premises in which the intermediate L does not have an ‘estate or interest’ then there will have been no breach of the statutory duty to repair. Instead, the assured shorthold T will have to rely upon the intermediate L having been given notice of the defect (which then puts the intermediate L on notice to repair the defect).

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Lease extension – marriage value

If a long-lessee enfranchises under the 1993 Act, then there can be a collective acquisition of the freehold, or the grant of a lease extension for an additional 90 years. L will have to be paid a premium which will be a total of (i) the diminution in the value of L’s interest in the flat (and other losses), plus (ii) L’s share of the ‘marriage value’.
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