Industry comment, updates and news from the Websters team.

HMO landlords face strife over utilities charges

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 in Commercial, Landlord, Managing Agent, News

Commercial landlords and property agents of multi-let buildings or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are often facing problems when recharging tenants for energy. An article in FM World says that many buildings apportion utility costs on a floor area or fixed percentage basis but tenants are now expecting to be charged for actual usage, which can lead to potential disputes.

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New measures to tackle rogue landlords and overcrowded housing

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 in Landlord, Managing Agent, News, Residential

Brandon Lewis of Department for Communities and Local Government has announced new measures that will clamp down on criminal landlords who trap and cram vulnerable tenants in unsafe, overcrowded homes, . Proposals will help councils tackle the problem head-on and bring an end to ruthless landlords who exploit their tenants and charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.

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Can you exercise your tenant’s break right?

Friday, November 20th, 2015 in Commercial, Landlord, Managing Agent, News

Mike Suggett of Browne Jacobson has pointed out that where a tenant of a commercial property seeks to negotiate into a lease the ability to terminate the lease early, he will usually wish to secure the break right conditional only on serving notice. However, this can be unacceptable to some landlords who may insist on more onerous conditions . Some of these conditions can be complied with relatively easily, but some can be so onerous that they will allow a landlord to effectively frustrate a tenant’s right to break the lease early.

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Joint ownership and landlords: who serves notice?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 in Landlord, News, Residential

Tanfield Chambers has raised the problem inherent in joint ownership. It is not uncommon, on an enfranchisement of a terraced house converted into two flats, for the freehold to be acquired by the two lessees jointly. What then? Must both decide on service charge expenditure together? What happens if one of the two refuses to join in, can the other sue? What if one of the two breaches their lease as leaseholder? These are issues which have often arisen in cases I have dealt with. The answers lie in an analysis of the trust law implications of joint ownership.

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Reserve Funds – Best Practice for Commercial Landlords

Thursday, September 10th, 2015 in Commercial, Landlord, Managing Agent, News

An article from Shoosmiths points out that many leases provide for a landlord to create a reserve fund of service charge contributions to cover recurring costs such as maintenance, cleaning and redecoration.
These funds are distinct from a sinking fund which is designed for costly rainy day items such as replacing lifts or air-conditioning plant.
A reserve fund helps to balance the financial burden on the tenant, as it avoids fluctuations to their service charge contributions, and gives greater certainty to the landlord that funds will be available in advance to cover the day to day cost of providing services.
The recent case of Caribax Ltd v Hinde House Management Company Ltd reminded us that residential landlords are obliged to hold reserve funds on trust for their tenants and must give effect to the service charge terms of the lease.
But what is the position for a commercial landlord?

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Hidden Improvement Costs- change is coming in 2018

Monday, August 24th, 2015 in Commercial, Landlord, News

In an article from Trethowans, Paul Longman reports that it may seem a long way off but, from April 2018, landlords “may not let” commercial properties with an EPC rating of F or G unless improvement is not practicable or an exemption applies (for example, if the tenancy is for a term of 6 months or less). Similar regulations will apply to residential properties.
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A Break For Landlords

Thursday, August 13th, 2015 in Commercial, Landlord, Managing Agent, News

The Keeble Hawson Commercial Property team has reported that a tenant had exercised a break clause, ending a lease early and sought a refund of parts of payments it had made in advance in respect of rent, service charge, car parking and insurance charges, which related to a period after the break date. However, the Court of Appeal ruled that it was not appropriate to imply a term into a lease that entitled the tenant to a refund in respect of payments that it had paid in advance in accordance with the terms of the lease.

Repairs and improvement works: will the landlord’s costs be recoverable?

Monday, July 27th, 2015 in Landlord, Managing Agent, News, Residential, Service Charge

Walker Morris reports that a recent Tribunal ruled that whilst the cost of repair work undertaken by a landlord was fully recoverable from leaseholders under section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a different approach must be taken when assessing whether the landlord can rely on this provision to recover the cost of improvement work.

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