04 July 2013
When is a flat not a flat?
The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 gives occupiers of long leasehold flats which have been ‘constructed or adapted for use as a dwelling’ the right to buy their freeholds and sets up a procedure for this to be effected.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against an attempt by tenants to invoke the Act to purchase of the freeholds of office premises which had originally been built as residential properties.
More recently, in the case of Smith and Dennis v Jafton Properties Ltd, the tenants of flats who in turn let them out as short-term furnished lettings claimed that these were dwellings for the purposes of the Act and sought to purchase their freeholds. The flats were let out fully furnished to visiting businesspeople, normally for short periods.
Although the premises were clearly flats, the judge refused to accept that they constituted ‘dwellings’ and concluded that the tenants therefore had no legal right to require the landlord to sell them the freeholds.
Property litigation senior associate, Sarah McLoughlin, concluded: "The courts are increasingly taking a commonsense approach to questions such as these to prevent what are seen as potential abuses of the legislation."
For help and advice about protecting your interests under a lease contact Sarah McLoughlin,