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A Cautious Tale For Landlords of Flats Who Are Considering Developing Common Parts or Retained Land

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A recent case in the High Court is a timely reminder that a landlord of long residential leases may not be able to further develop common parts or neighbouring land without regard to easements granted to the established tenants.

hlw Keeble Hawson logoAn easement is a right over land and very often these are granted to a tenant to enhance their enjoyment of their flat – a common example, is the right to park in a designated car parking space on land which the landlord has retained.

In the recent case, the leases contained a redevelopment clause in which the landlord had sought to reserve the right to develop the neighbouring land (including the car park.) The landlord fenced off the car park and offered the tenants alternatives spaces nearby. The tenants refused to accept these and argued that the landlord had no right to do this and applied for an injunction.

The Court agreed with the tenants and criticised the landlord for its ‘high handed’ approach. The Court’s view was that only clear language in the redevelopment clause would indicate that the right to park in those designated spaces may be overridden and in this particular case, the redevelopment clause did not do this.

2 headline lessons come from this decision – firstly, there is no implied right for a landlord to require a tenant to move from its designated car parking space and secondly, a landlord needs to ensure that any redevelopment clause (that is a clause allowing the landlord the right to develop common areas or neighbouring land) is drafted in such a way to ensure that it can actually override any easements granted to the tenants over those areas.

If you have require advice on lease clauses and intended development (including the meaning of a lease that you are dealing with or in relation to a dispute that may/has arisen) then please contact Sarah Burton who is one of our property litigation solicitors on 01302 308662 and sarahburton@hlwkeeblehawson.co.uk.

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