Disputes between a landlord and a leaseholder can arise if a covenant in a lease is breached by one party – or if there is a problem with maintenance.
Some of the most common disputes between a landlord and tenant involve:
- Common parts (repairs or change of use such as removing access to common parts)
- Disrepair (leaking roof, gutters, brickwork)
- Forfeiture of lease (breach of covenant)
- Lease renewals and extensions (disputes over premium)
- Service Charge (accounts not made available).
Many properties are also now owned by companies rather than individuals and may form part of a property investment portfolio – including those with a nominal offshore company as the landlord.
In such cases, it can be extremely difficult to deal with a “faceless” landlord or a managing agent keen to protect their client from the tenants of a building in disrepair or because of a dispute over the Service Charge.
In leasehold disputes, it is crucial to take legal advice early on in the process before a mountain of paperwork and correspondence between the parties accumulates, as this can add to the legal costs involved in resolving the issue.
Not taking action under the lease may in some cases prejudice a landlord’s right to claim damages – for example when a tenant is in disrepair.
LAWTEC Solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with leasehold disputes and landlord and tenant matters – and will be able to examine the lease in detail and advise on the best way forward in a leasehold dispute.
Litigation in Leasehold disputes
LAWTEC Solicitors has a highly successful property litigation department and can advise on taking legal action against a freeholder or a tenant if necessary – including:
- Advising on a Section 146 Notice under the Law of Property Act 1925 for forfeiture of lease for breach of covenant – and issuing a counter notice
- Preparing a pre-action letter of claim and lodging with the court details of any claim (a claim can be lodged with the court for four months without being served as a protective measure, while negotiations with a freeholder continue)
- Instructing experts in leasehold disputes, including surveyors, conveyancers, architects and building experts
- Obtaining counsel’s opinion on any claim and quantum (the amount of any damages that might be claimed from the freeholder).
In civil cases such as leasehold disputes, a claim can be made up to six years after the initial start of a dispute (eg from when a leaking roof was first detected).
LAWTEC Solicitors can also advise on alternatives to litigation in leasehold disputes – including dispute resolution and mediation between a leaseholder/group of leaseholders and the freeholder/landlord.
First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property)
In England, leaseholders in dispute with a landlord can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property) for adjudication.
LAWTEC Solicitors can advise on The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal)(Property Chamber) Rules 2013/1169, which has replaced the Land Valuation Tribunal (LVT) – and can represent clients at the tribunal.
It is important to remember that a case referred to the Tribunal may mean a leaseholder has to pay the costs of its freeholder’s legal team, as well as its own solicitors.
Contacting a solicitor at an early stage in a leasehold dispute may actually help keep legal costs down – and speed up resolution of a leasehold dispute before it reaches the Tribunal stage.
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At LAWTEC Solicitors, we have specialist experience in all areas of Motoring Law/Immigration Law and Commercial leases and can provide our assistance in these matters with a free initial assessment to help you along the way.
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