Livewest Homes Ltd (formerly known as Liverty Ltd) v Bamber [2018] EWHC 2454 (QB)

High Court

27 September 2018

The High Court has held that social landlords can issue two-year plus fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies to tenants, with a contractual break clause allowing them to evict a tenant on two months’ notice within a ‘starter tenancy’ period.

The Defendant (Ms Bamber) was a tenant of Livewest Homes, which had granted her a seven-year fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy. The tenancy agreement included a 12 month ‘starter’ period and this included a break clause that Livewest said allowed it to reduce the notice period to two months.

Following accusations of anti-social behaviour (which occurred six months into the ‘starter’ period), Livewest served a section 21 notice with two months’ notice, and later began possession proceedings. Ms Bamber claimed that that the normal six-month notice period should apply.

The High Court held that Livewest had not been required to give six months' notice.

The ruling means that registered providers of social housing are able to bypass the rule that two-year plus fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies can only be ended without cause or fault under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 when it comes to an end, provided that six months’ notice of non-renewal has been given.

Capsticks represented Livewest Homes in this hearing.

A copy of the judgment is here.

R (AE) v London Borough of Brent [2018] EWHC 2574 (Admin)

High Court

5 October 2018

The High Court has dismissed a judicial review against a decision by a Council to offer a claimant accommodation that was within a 60-minute commute from her parents and children's school.

The claimant had been in prison and her children lived with her parents in Brent. On her release, the London Borough of Brent completed several child and family assessments, which stressed the difficulties in finding suitable accommodation in the London area, and recommended securing the family “suitable, affordable and sustainable property within a reasonable commute of 60 minutes” from her parents' home and her children's school.

The claimant applied for a judicial review of the decision.

The High Court dismissed the application, finding that the London Borough of Brent had not acted unreasonably or interfered with her human rights, and that it had a wide discretion as to how it met its duty when offering accommodation under section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989.

This decision will be welcomed by local authorities that house applicants out of area under their section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989 powers.

A copy of the judgment is here.

Watkins v Aged Merchant Seamen's Homes [2018] EWHC 2410 (Admin)

High Court

17 April 2018

The High Court has held that that deciding whether a complainant was a “person aggrieved” for the purposes of section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 was always a matter of fact and degree.

The occupier (Ms Watkins) was served with a notice to quit her flat, but she refused to leave and began to withhold rent. The question of whether she consequently became a trespasser was the subject of on-going judicial review proceedings. Some months later, Ms Watkins, using section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990Act, complained that the condition of the flat was prejudicial to health and constituted a statutory nuisance. Before that complaint could be heard, a possession order was made. Ms Watkins refused to leave and was still in occupation when her section 82 complaint came before the Magistrates Court. The complaint was dismissed on the basis that she did not have standing to bring it: a complaint of statutory nuisance could only be made by a person aggrieved by the existence of the nuisance and, as Ms Watkins had no right to occupy the flat, she was not a “person ... aggrieved” within the meaning of section 82.

Ms Watkins appealed.

In allowing the appeal, the High Court held that a person who was in actual occupation (regardless of the legality of that occupation) when they made their complaint would normally be a “person aggrieved” because they would be at risk of prejudice to their health if the premises were in such a state as to constitute a statutory nuisance.

The case was heard in April, but the judgment was only published in October..

A copy of the judgment is here.

Bermondsey Exchange Freeholders Ltd v Ninos Koumetto (As Trustee in Bankruptcy of Kevin Geoghehan Conway)

County Court (Central London)

1 May 2018

The County Court has held that a long leaseholder had breached the terms of his lease by underletting his flat for holiday lets via online platforms such as Airbnb. An injunction preventing such use was upheld.

The leaseholder (Mr Conway) leased of a flat in the Bermondsey Exchange building in South London. Mr Conway originally sublet the flat on assured shorthold tenancies, but then began using his flat to provide short-term holiday accommodation through online platforms such as Airbnb and other agencies. The landlord freeholder asked him to desist, but Mr Conway denied the accusations and claimed that, in any event, his lease did not prevent him from doing so. The freeholder sought, and obtained, an injunction after the judge found that the property had been widely advertised on Airbnb. Mr Conway appealed.

The County Court, in dismissing the appeal, held that (1) AirBnB lettings breached the lease, which included terms that prohibited sharing possession of the flat or allowing a company or person to share occupation of the flat unless through an assignment or underlease that had been approved by the landlord; and (2) the flat was being used for commercial hire.

The decision will be welcomed by landlords who are unhappy about their properties being used for short term lettings.

The case was heard in May, but the judgment was only published in September.

A copy of the judgment is available on request.

Cheerupmate2 Ltd v Franco de Luca Calce [2018] EWCA Civ 2230

Court Of Appeal

12 October 2018

The Court of Appeal has held that a minor discrepancy between a notice served by a landlord to forfeit a long lease by peaceable re-entry due to non-payment of rent and the prescribed form of the notice was insufficient to invalidate the notice. However, the effect of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 on the period of grace granted to a tenant before the right to forfeit became exercisable meant that the landlord had not validly forfeited the lease.

The lease contained a forfeiture clause enabling the landlord (Cheerupmate2 Ltd) to re-enter the property if the ground rent was in arrears. Cheerupmate2 Ltd sent the tenant a notice, under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, requiring the tenant to pay the outstanding ground rent by a specified date. Cheerupmate2 Ltd then planned to peaceably re-enter the property the day after the specified date. However, the First-tier-Tribunal and Upper Tribunal both held that (1) the notice was not in the prescribed form; (2) that the effect of section 166 of the Act was to start time running again for two years as required by the forfeiture clause in the lease before a valid re-entry could take place; and (3) that section 167 of the Act precluded Cheerupmate2 Ltd from forfeiting for three years from the date of a valid notice. Cheerupmate2 Ltd had to succeed on all three issues.

Cheerupmate2 Ltd appealed.

The Court of Appeal held that the notice was in a previously-prescribed form, but was nonetheless valid. However, the purported forfeiture following service of the notice was premature; under the terms of the lease, Cheerupmate2 Ltd was required to wait for two years after the date specified for payment in the notice before exercising the right to forfeit. Consequently, the purported re-entry was unlawful. As Cheerupmate2 Ltd had to succeed on all three issue, the appeal was dismissed

A copy of the judgment is here.