The widely anticipated judgement of the case of Fearn and Others v Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery from the Supreme Court was delivered on 1 February 2023, opening up the potential for many new claims of nuisance by way visual intrusion.

The Facts of the Case

The Tate Modern contains a public viewing platform on its top floor (constructed in 2016), which provides views over the city of London to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but also a direct view into a number of residential flats (constructed some four years prior) which are located nearby, and which were built with floor to ceiling glass panels. The claimants are residents of four flats who originally brought a claim in nuisance and sought an injunction requiring the Tate Modern to prevent members of the public from being able to look into their homes, by cordoning off or screening the part of the viewing platform.

Continue Reading A room with a view…. and a nuisance – The Tate Modern

“Pay Now, Argue Later”: tenant-friendly interpretation of service charge provisions provides grist for disputes

Introduction

This case is of interest because commercial service charges are very rarely reviewed by the Supreme Court.  The majority decision gives a surprisingly tenant-friendly view on what was a very traditionally worded service charge schedule.  As a result, landlords are now at risk of more pushback and argument from their tenants about the service charges they pay.

Continue Reading Sara & Hossein Asset Holdings Limited v Blacks Outdoor Retail Limited [2023] UKSC 2

Over the next few weeks we’re going to let you in on our Top 6 developments in planning law from 2022.  These might not be the best known (or infamous) cases, but hopefully if you aren’t already aware of them they might provide you with food for thought.

The Supreme Court decision in the Hillside case – The problem of overlapping planning permissions

Top of the pile for us is the Supreme Court decision in Hillside v Snowdonia Natural Park Authority.  This looks at the perennial question: can you take advantage of two (or more) overlapping planning permissions over the same land, or do you lose the benefit of one of them by implementing the other one?

Continue Reading Our top 6 Planning Law takeaways in 2022 – Part 1: The problem of overlapping planning permissions

Introduction

English property law has developed a sophisticated system of property rights in land, to enable joint ownership of land and to regulate successive interests in the same land over a period of time.  This was largely achieved by the recognition of an additional type of interest in land, separate from the legal title. An equitable interest could, in certain circumstances, be untethered from the legal title and become a separate right.  This is seen most often in situations where two or more parties own land together.  They are joint legal owners – both names will appear on the title register – but they also hold the entire beneficial interest on trust for each other.

Continue Reading No going back: the transfer of beneficial interests in land

EDIT 22.11.2022: as this post went to press, the Appeal Court departed from the view of both the High Court and the County Court, and proclaimed a strict orthodoxy.  They held that the judge below had asked himself the wrong question; he should have asked whether the notice had been given to the tenant, not what the notice had meant.  The appeal shows that the utmost care must be taken when serving break notices, as the court will show no leniency if the notice is incorrect.  

Ensuring a break notice is validly served can be critical, especially for fixed break dates as without a rolling break option there is only one ‘bite of the cherry’ to break the lease. The consequences of serving an invalid break notice may be drastic, for example, it may fetter a landlord in obtaining vacant possession in order to carry out a development scheme or a tenant may remain liable for a lease that it no longer wants and cannot get rid of in any other way.

Continue Reading Nelsonian blindness is no defence to a break notice

For those of you living outside of the UK, Waitrose is an upmarket supermarket whose wares are indefinably better, or at least more expensive, than its competitors.  If an area hosts a Waitrose, then it proves that it is a good place to live, and property prices will leap with joy at the privilege.

Competition law rarely intrudes into land agreements.  Indeed, until 2011, when the Groceries Market Investigation (Controlled Land) Order 2010 (the ‘Order’) was introduced, most land agreements were not caught at all.  In the past eleven years there have been very few cases brought under the legislation, explicable by the softly, softly approach that the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), chooses to take. 

Continue Reading Waitrose gets a slap on the wrist for breaching competition law in restrictive land agreements

The Court of Appeal, in the conjoined appeals of London Trocadero (2015) LLP v Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd and Bank of New York Mellon (International) Ltd v Cine-UK Ltd, once again vindicated beleaguered landlords by refusing to imply terms into professionally negotiated leases.  Tenants cannot withhold rent except in circumstances expressly set out in the lease.   

Buttressing the judgment is the reiteration of the stated “fundamental basis” of a lease: it is an estate granting exclusive possession for a fixed term, in consideration for payment of rent. The tenants’ frustrated intention to use the premises as a cinema was not sufficient to cause a total failure of consideration.

Continue Reading The Picturehouse litigation: post-Covid, the Court of Appeal emphasises that contracts are meant to be binding

When acquiring a property for development, covenants that restrict the type or form of development always need to be carefully considered. There are a number of ways in which restrictive covenants can be addressed, and in two recent cases developers sought to have the relevant restrictive covenants discharged following the grant of planning permission.

Continue Reading When are restrictive covenants not development constraints?

Introduction

Reform of the regime governing residential long leaseholds (leases of dwellings for a term of twenty one years or more) has been going on for over fifty years.  The latest reform is to restrict a landlord’s ability to charge ground rent on top of an initial premium paid on the grant of the lease.  Ground rent is a sum the tenant pays annually, in addition to the lump sum for the lease itself.  Unlike insurance rent and service charges which the tenant must also pay, ground rent is seen as an ongoing windfall for the landlord, as it is not referable to provision of a service.

Continue Reading Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022

Following the introduction of the Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill  to the House of Commons on 11 May 2022, we follow up on our article Levelling Up – Government to play matchmaker on the high street? with an overview of the proposed legislation.

In brief, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill  (the “Bill”) establishes a statutory notice procedure to be followed by local authorities before a rental auction can be carried out and the landlord required to grant a short-term tenancy to the “successful bidder”.

Continue Reading Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – High Street Rental Auctions