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Property Law Journal: October 2016

Peter Lewis highlights the dangers to landlords of early break clauses when negotiating a renewal

With regard to rent valuation, decided cases demonstrate that it can be difficult to determine what impact certain clauses in leases will have when a lease is renewed. HHJ Mitchell, who gave judgment on Britel Fund Trustees Ltd v B&Q plc [2016], elected to give due regard to the nature of comparables. The implications were that the market value was significantly discounted.

A recent case makes clear that the consultation obligation lies with the superior landlord. Jessica Parry explains

In the recent case of Leaseholders of Foundling Court and O’Donnell Court v The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Camden [2016], the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (UT) held that a superior landlord was obliged to consult with its direct tenant and any subtenants, in order for the costs of major works to be recoverable via the service charge.

Forsters LLP

Rosalind Cullis discusses a case which serves as a salutary reminder of the importance of compliance with break conditions

What amounts to vacant possession has, once again, been considered by the High Court in the case of Riverside Park Ltd v NHS Property Services Ltd [2016]. In this instance, the consequences were significant: the court held that the tenant’s failure to give vacant possession meant that it had not satisfied the condition of an option to break the lease, meaning that the tenant remained bound by the lease for the remaining five years of a ten-year term. The case serves as yet another reminder of the attention to detail that is necessary to ensure compliance with break conditions.

It is now clear that tenants of private landlords cannot rely on human rights to prevent eviction. Kary Withers reports

Private landlords across the UK will be breathing a sigh of relief following a Supreme Court ruling that makes it clear that tenants are not able to invoke a breach of their human rights to prevent lawful eviction.

Douglas Rhodes considers the residential landlord’s liability to repair external common parts

The facts of Edwards v Kumarasamy [2016] are common to a vast number of blocks of flats across the country. Mr Kumarasamy was the long leaseholder of a flat within a block, which was accessed by a paved pathway leading to the main entrance door which opened onto a front hallway. Under the terms of the head lease, Mr Kumarasamy was granted an internal demise of the flat and access rights over the common parts. As is standard, the freeholder covenanted to maintain the common parts and Mr Kumarasamy covenanted to pay a service charge towards the maintenance costs. The head lease also contained a provision that the freeholder would not be liable for breach of the maintenance covenants until the leaseholder has given written notice to the freeholder and the freeholder has had a reasonable opportunity to remedy the disrepair.

John Starr

John Starr analyses a case that may widen the scope of construction adjudication

As will be well known to readers of this column, s108 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 says that a party to a construction contract has the right to refer a dispute arising under the contract for adjudication. The words ‘arising under’ are sometimes expanded in the contract itself, or by amendment, to include disputes arising under ‘or in connection with’ the contract. So what do the words ‘arising under’ actually mean? In a recent case described by the judge as raising an ‘arguably important area of construction law’, it was argued that a dispute about the terms on which a construction dispute had been settled was a dispute arising under the settlement agreement, rather than under the construction contract itself, and that it therefore could not be referred to adjudication under the provisions of the Act.

Dentons

Lucy McDonnell examines the ramifications of the Localism Act five years on

The Localism Act 2011 obtained royal assent in November 2011, gradually bringing into effect a raft of legislation supporting the government’s communities-based agenda. Following the Conservative Party’s 2010 manifesto, subtitled ‘Invitation to join the government of Britain’, localism remained a focus of the coalition government, and remains a focus of the current government.