New Freeholder changing the Right to Let game?

by Readers Question

9:45 AM, 17th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

New Freeholder changing the Right to Let game?

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New Freeholder changing the Right to Let game?

After owning and letting a Leasehold flat for around 20 years the freehold changed hands a few months ago.

I have now received a letter informing me that letting the flat breaks a clause in the lease that says the flat must be used by either the Leaseholder or a member of the leaseholders family and offering me the chance to regularise the situation by either evicting the tenant (of 8 years standing) or paying to have the terms of the Lease amended.

The previous freeholder was always aware that the flat was tenanted and was happy for it to be let.

Has anyone experience of this situation or advice about how to proceed.

Many thanks

Thomas



Comments

Darren Peters

9:33 AM, 18th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

What does the clause in the Lease say exactly?

Ms Leaseholder

10:07 AM, 18th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

I hope you were offered the chance to buy the freehold before it was sold on? If not, tell them your solicitor will be dealing with that first.

Ian Narbeth

10:41 AM, 18th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Hi Thomas
You should consult a solicitor.
It is unlikely the landlord can now take any action against you if the previous landlord has waived his rights to enforce the clause. Have you paid any ground rent over the last 8 years? Did you give formal notice of the tenancy to the previous landlord?
The problem you will face is when you come to sell or re-mortgage you will need to disclose that you are in dispute.
If the landlord simply wants reasonable legal costs covered to document the variation then I would go with that. If he wants a substantial premium you may be able to use section 84(12), Law of Property Act 1925. Where a lease has a term of 40 years or more, and 25 years of that term have expired, the Upper Tribunal has jurisdiction to discharge or modify restrictions affecting that leasehold land. It is not a foregone conclusion that the tribunal will do this but the threat of it might cause the landlord to be reasonable, especially if other flat owners are in a similar position and he does not want to establish a precedent.
I would also recommend contacting other leaseholders in the building to see if they have received similar letters.

David Lawrenson

11:03 AM, 18th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

I trust you have actually checked the lease?
On one of my flats in London, the certain rapacious freeholder would right to be every 2 years or so. Their letter would start, "Dear Mr. Lawrenson, it has come to our intention that your flat is being let. There is a charge for this of £400 (or some other daft sum)"
I would write back, "Thanks for the recent letter. Please tell me where in the lease, it refers to a restriction against letting and the possibility of me being charged for this. Please find enclosed my invoice for £400 for writing this letter and 40 pence for postage"
That was the last I'd hear from them for another two years.
The freeholder is a big one with a postal address is SE1.
Rapacious, thieving b......s.

This story is in my first book, in the section under leasehold.
David Lawrenson
http://www.LettingFocus.com
Private Rented Advice for Landlords.

moneymanager

16:09 PM, 19th October 2018
About 4 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by David Lawrenson at 18/10/2018 - 11:03
SE1? and a real address in Mayfair and a director related to Cameron's wife?

Tom45

21:56 PM, 23rd October 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Darren Peters at 18/10/2018 - 09:33
Sorry for the delay in replying. I didn't realise the article had been published.

The lease does say that the flat is to be occupied by the leaseholder and/or members of their family.

I purchased it as my first home in 1995 and have been letting it out without any problem since 1997.

Tom45

22:10 PM, 23rd October 2018
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 18/10/2018 - 10:41Thank you for this information.
On the basis that at least half the flats are now let and have been for many years, it looks quite promising for a claim that the restriction is now obsolete, or impedes reasonable use.
"that by reason of changes in the character of the property or the neighbourhood or other circumstances of the case which the Upper Tribunal may deem material, the restriction ought to be deemed obsolete.
that in a case falling within subsection (1A) the continued existence thereof would impede some reasonable user] of the land for public or private purposes."


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