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Landlord entitled to add grounds maintenance to service charges

Posted: 11th January 2021   In: Commercial Property

The terms of a tenancy agreement entitled a landlord to add grounds maintenance to the services for which it could charge.

That was the decision of the Court of Appeal in a case involving Curo Places Ltd and Anthony Pimlett.

Curo Places was a registered provider of social housing. It had entered into a tenancy agreement with Mr Pimlett in 2008 concerning a one-bedroomed bungalow in a sheltered housing scheme of 32 units set in communal grounds, which were maintained without charge.

In 2017, after carrying out a proper consultation, Curo Places gave written notice to Pimlett seeking to add grounds maintenance to the services for which it could charge under the tenancy agreement.

Pimlett objected, arguing that the landlord had no power under the agreement to take such action

The issue arose in 3,400 other tenancy agreements of which Curo Places was landlord and the possible financial impact to it by the end of March 2021 was estimated at around £1.16 million. 

The First-tier Tribunal ruled in favour of Pimlett, and the landlord's appeal to the Upper Tribunal was dismissed.

The Court of Appeal highlighted key provisions in the tenancy agreement, including: 

Clause 1.4.1 - any services provided by the landlord with a specific charge would be listed in the particulars of tenancy and would have to be paid for by the tenant.

Clause 6.3.1 - any changes to the terms, save for changes in rent or service charges, required the parties' written agreement.

The court held that the effect of clause 6.3.1 was that changes in rent and service charges could be made without the tenant's agreement.

Please contact Santokh Singh if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.

[2020] EWCA Civ 1621
CURO PLACES LTD v ANTHONY PIMLETT (2020)
CA (Civ Div) (David Richards LJ, Hickinbottom LJ, Andrews LJ) 01/12/2020

 

Posted by: Santokh Singh
Commercial Property
Luton Office