8 Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter ‘Ask the FPRA’ continued from page seven Q A
Last year we took over the management of our small block of flats. One resident has not paid any of his service charges. He also happens to be the landlord’s son. I have written to him in the past requesting the services charge to no avail. I now need to write a strong letter requesting these payments together with a copy to the landlord and his lender. I am trying to find a standard wording for this type of letter. Please can you help? Rowena Wilson, FPRA executive committee member replies:
I suggest the text for your letter should be as follows: “It is noted that you are in arrears with the payment of service charges due under your lease [quote relevant lease provisions]. Those arrears amount to £[xx], as shown in the attached statement. Your failure to pay the service charges has a number of consequences, not only in relation to the day-to-day running of the estate, but also in terms of your lease itself. As we are sure you will appreciate, failure to pay service charges due is a breach of the terms of your lease and that breach may result in the lease being terminated. In the circumstances you are requested to take immediate steps to clear your arrears.
Should you fail to do so within 14 days we will, with regret, have no option but to consult our solicitors to take action to collect payment of the arrears and interest thereon and/or to begin the process for terminating your lease. We will seek reimbursement of the cost of this process from you.
In our last newsletter (issue number 86, Autumn 2008), due to a typographical error, the word “for” appeared instead of the word “not” in the penultimate paragraph of Martin Redman’s answer about the gas pipe. The relevant sentence should read: “However, I cannot see any basis for the suggestion that he should not pay for all such works.” Apologies for any confusion caused. The edition of the newsletter on our website is correct.
Issue No. 87 Winter 2008
Legal jottings Compiled by Philippa Turner
EG Estates Gazette
L & TR Landlord & Tenant Reports HLR Housing Law Reports LVT LT
In Greenwood Reversions v World Environment Foundation (2008 HLR 31) the leaseholder acquired the lease in 1994 but ran up arrears of service charges as a result of which in 1998 the landlord obtained judgment against him for £7750. The leaseholder failed to pay but in 2001 purported to assign the lease in breach of the requirement not to do so without landlord’s consent, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld but deemed to be reasonably withheld if the leaseholder was in arrears. The purported assignee was a company which was in effect the leaseholder’s own vehicle and entirely controlled by him. The landlord subsequently made no service charge or rent demand from either the leaseholder or the company, presumably because to do so could amount to a waiver of the breach of the covenant against assignment. In 2002 the landlord’s solicitor wrote to the company demanding payment of rent, threatening forfeiture of the lease in event of failure. In 2004 forfeiture notice was served on the leaseholder by the landlord and in 2005 the leaseholder “took back” the assigned lease. In County Court proceedings for forfeiture the Judge refused to grant relief from forfeiture and the Court of Appeal upheld the decision: the Judge had wide discretion whether or not to grant relief and he had taken into account all the circumstances including the behaviour of the leaseholder and was entitled to reach the decision he had and the Court of Appeal would not interfere. Furthermore, it agreed the solicitor’s letter did not amount to waiver of the breach because it was addressed to the company and not to the lawful leaseholder.
Meaning of words in legislation
The letters above are edited. The FPRA only advises member associations – we cannot and do not act for them. Opinions and statements offered orally and in writing are given free of charge and in good faith, and as such are offered without legal responsibility on the part of either the maker or of FPRA ltd.
In King v Udlaw (see FPRA’s last Newsletter Legal Jottings) the LT considered the definition of “dwelling” in the context of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985; it concluded that, in spite of the facts of the case, the properties in question were not dwellings. Although the circumstances differed, the decision of the Court of Appeal in Boss Holdings v Grosvenor West End Properties (2008 UKHL 5 L & TR) casts some doubt on the rationale of the LT: this time, it was the meaning of “house” in the context of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 which was in dispute. The building had been constructed as a house but in recent years the basement, ground and first floors had been used for commercial purposes and the upper floors converted into three flats which had become completely derelict and uninhabitable without replacement of floors, electricity, water and replastering. However, the Court had little hesitation in holding that the whole building could reasonably be described as being designed and adapted as a “house” and thus eligible to be enfranchised under the Act. It
Leasehold Valuation Tribunal Lands Tribunal
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12