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Property Law Journal: 28 May 2012
Cobbetts LLP

Helena Davies considers the law of private nuisance, focusing on a few key concepts that have been assessed in detail in recent Court of Appeal decisions

The central concept discussed here is that of the character of the locality (one of the many factors that the court is required to weigh up when deciding whether or not an activity constitutes a nuisance). As we shall see, various permissions (including planning permissions, environmental permits, statutory authorities and so forth) have been relied upon, with varying degrees of success, by defendants to argue that the character of a locality has changed.

Hempsons

Alan Morris reviews the courts’ rigorous approach to the interpretation of break clause conditions and calls for a more pragmatic approach going forward

A tenant’s break right (or, in other words, an option to terminate a lease before the end of its term) is usually required by a tenant who wishes to build flexibility into its leasing arrangements. It is often accompanied by a slightly higher rent to take account of the fact that the lease may not run its full term, so there is consideration for the provision. The right to bring a lease to a premature end is regarded as a necessary advantage in reducing risk, such as in circumstances where a supply contract is lost and the premises are no longer required. However, in many cases, the option to terminate, seen by a tenant as vitally important when heads of terms are negotiated, is annulled because the lease has been drafted in such a way as to impose conditions on the operation of the right that make implementation almost impossible to achieve. The law is clear; any conditions must be strictly fulfilled if the break is to be successfully accomplished.

Forsters LLP

When is a house reasonably so called? A recent judgment throws some further light on the issue, as Natasha Rees finds out

Enfranchisement practitioners are waiting with bated breath for the outcome of two appeals in the Supreme Court known collectively as ‘Hosebay’. Both appeals concern the definition of a ‘house’ under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear both appeals in July this year and that a decision will be reached by September. It is widely hoped that the Supreme Court will clarify the law in this area.

Melissa Thompson and Laura Clegg report on the importance of timing for landlords who want to recover possession of premises for the purpose of carrying on their own business

The recent Court of Appeal decision in Frozen Value Ltd v Heron Foods Ltd [2012] has confirmed that, in order to oppose the grant of a new commercial tenancy pursuant to s30(1)(g) Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1954, a landlord must ensure that it has been the ‘competent landlord’ (and thus has more than 14 months left to run on its lease) throughout the whole of the preceding five-year period.

Laura Oliver and Julia Heyn assess how changes in flood insurance are likely to impact on landords and tenants as well as lenders

If Noah were alive today he would surely insist on taking out insurance against flood risk. Even without Noah’s pessimism, concern about flooding over recent years stems from more than the British obsession with the weather. There is a wealth of evidence that weather patterns are changing and that surface water flooding is an increasing problem.

Caroline DeLaney contemplates the new offence of squatting in a residential building, and the background to it

Tucked away in s144 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 is the new criminal offence of squatting in a residential building. The section provides that a person commits an offence if: