Old leases since 1945

by Readers Question

8:39 AM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Old leases since 1945

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Old leases since 1945

I am a landlord of an old lease from the 1960s for a Victorian detached property in Surrey – My tenant who was long term since the 60s recently died. His daughter who cared for him took on the lease – The problem is for such a little rent – they have not complied with the lease and its clauses – which are different from the leases we now have –

I am responsible in the lease for external repairs, they are responsible for the plumbing electrics, internal redecoration condition – surveyors fees –

The trouble is they have not done anything in the last 50 years! the windows do not open due to moss (sash windows), the walls ceilings and carpets are still the same and decor is from the 60s- On the subject of paint although they have said they did paint it- they provided me with nothing when I asked for receipts! – I have thought about sampling and testing the paint to establish the age! I recently had surveyors in who assessed the condition – they have advised me to see a specialist solicitor to advise me on the terms of the lease which are unusual (remember it is from the 60’s) I am really stuck on how I can bring the property back into compliance of this lease? how should I move forward ? the tenants are not helping at all!

Also please shed some light on how leases changed since 1945? Old leases since 1945

Best regards

Tony Bains



Comments

Mark Alexander

8:53 AM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Crikey!

I will be very pleasantly surprised if we have any members who can offer any useful guidance on this but you never know and we live in hope.

From what you've said it does appear that you have a case but I can only echo the advice offered by your surveyors, i.e. consult a specialist solicitor.
.

Annette Stone

16:47 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Difficult to comment on this one without seeing the lease but it seems odd (even for a 1960s) lease that a freeholder would have the responsibility of decorating the exterior of a property for which he presumably receives only a ground rent. Are you should it does not say that it is the landlord's obligation to decorate but the lessee's responsibility to bear the costs. If not, then it is a defective lease and you will need a specialist solicitor to sort it out. Do please read through the lease carefully because sometimes clauses are dotted about in different places and you need some experience to actually read a lease and interpret it correctly.

If you are the freeholder of a house with a 99 year lease dating from the 1960s as there are presumably less than 60 years remaining and you stand to benefit enormously from any required lease extension.

Tony Lilleystone

17:29 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

When you refer to an ‘old lease’ can you please clarify whether this was a long lease for a fixed term (e.g. 99 years) at a ground rent of a few pounds a year, or whether it was what is generally called a tenancy agreement, with rent being paid weekly or monthly.
If the latter, I suspect that the tenancy could be a regulated tenancy under the Housing Act 1980, which is bad news. (For more information on this see https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/11445/138295.pdf)
In either case it is well-nigh impossible to get possession just because the tenants have failed to decorate the property. Taking legal action to enforce any covenants in the lease will probably not be worth the cost, although it might be worth getting a Solicitor to write a letter and perhaps serve a statutory notice if applicable.
There have been numerous changes to legislation affecting residential tenancies (rather than long leases) since 1945. For many years tenants had security of tenure so that it was virtually impossible to evict them. Rents were tightly controlled under a succession of Rent Acts which made it difficult to increase rents. As a consequence letting became very unattractive to property owners.
That changed with the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996, which introduced the modern system of assured and shorthold tenancies. However tenancy agreements entered into before then are not converted into one of the new forms of agreement and are still substantially protected.

Sally T

19:32 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

By lease, do you mean a protected tenancy. If it is then you could go to court to apply for possession on the grounds that they haven't maintained the property enough to stop it falling into disrepair. You would need a specialist solicitor as it's high risk.

Annette Stone

20:25 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

If you own the freehold but the "tenant" is, in fact, a tenant rather than a leaseholder with a long lease as seemed apparent at first do not despair. A regulated tenancy can only be passed on if the person it is passed on to can be proved to have been living at the property with the original tenant for some time. If not, you can get it back.

Even If the tenancy has been passed down from the original tenant correctly it cannot be passed down again and eventually the current tenant will follow the path of the previous one (sorry to be morbid) and the property will revert to you.

There is another scenario if it is a tenant with a protected tenancy and it is a person on their own living in a large detached house; they may very well be interested in exchanging this for the rental on a nice modern flat and you could offer to facilitate this by paying money for her to give up the tenancy.

There is yet another scenario - in that there are large number of companies who specifically buy properties with sitting tenants. Depending on the location, size etc they will pay up to about 85% of current value; depending on the age of the tenant and whether the tenancy has already been passed on once.

Whatever the scenario the final point which is very important to remember is that the tenant should be paying a realistic rental. The days of someone in a 30 shilling a week flat are long gone and a landlord is entitled to make an application to the Rent Tribunal every two years for an increase in rent to a realistic level.

Mark - did you think this one wouldn't rock and rock!!!!

Ian Pye

20:47 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

I had a similar experience. I bought a house from my mother in the 80's.(She had inherited it from her mother.) I used to play monopoly with my grandmother and always said this was my 'Old Kent Rd' and from being 5 yrs old I said I would buy it from my grandmother , when I was older.
It was a Regulated Tenancy at 10 shillings( 50p) a week from the 1950's and my mother had to travel 25 miles round trip to collect the rent , so she only did it once a yr , and she had to pay tax on the rent.
In the early 80's I persuaded her to take it to the rent tribunal to ask for a rent increase.
She was granted an increase to £6 a week and she had to do all the external repairs.She knew the roof would eventually become a problem, so I bought the house from my mother for £8,000 (independent valuation) in 1985.(It was valued at £400, when she inherited it from her mother) .Sure enough I eventually got the letter from the tenant saying it needed a new roof, because all the supports were rotten.It cost me £8,000 to remove the slates , replace the timbers and refix the slates.I was living in the Far East , so I let the tenant get the quotes and I decided which company to use.
I negotiated with the tenant every 2 yrs and eventually got the rent to £11.50 a week by 2003. ( If the tenant agrees in writing there is no need to apply to the rent tribunal- just register the agreed new rent with them ).
Eventually the tenant died after 50 yrs as a tenant.When I inspected the property with his daughter,I found the house was in very poor condition.It cost £50K to ( including more roof repairs).Everything except the walls were replaced repair, even the floor had to be dug up.The house was 200 yrs old
The daughter and son had the right to succeed the tenancy( but only if either of them had been living in the property with their father for 2 yrs before the death, which they had not done).
I sold it in 2005 for £193K.!! One of the best deals in my life.

I suggest you visit Shelter housing and homeless charity website, which explains everything you can and cannot do, with a regulated tenancy.

Mark Alexander

20:49 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

I did, but I hedged my bets slightly by saying "we live in hope". All that said, I stand by the advice offered by myself and the surveyor to seek specialist legal advice.

Maybe Justin Selig could help? See the member profile search under the members tab at the top of this page. Also try Tessa's Shepperson.

David Sweeney

21:26 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "12/09/2013 - 20:49":

Mark - can you contact Tony and get him to clarify if this was a 'lease' or a 'tenancy'?

Also, if the latter - do we have a date?

Mark Alexander

21:30 PM, 12th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Dave

Tony is signed up to receive updates. If he's not responded by the morning I will give him a call, fortunately he gave me his number but its s bit late to ring him now.

Roger Hardwick

9:13 AM, 13th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Hi Tony,

There may be a number of solutions to your problem, which will all depend on the terms of the lease.

You need to check whether the lease contains (i) a right to enter the property and carry out an inspection (ans the right to recover the cost of that inspection); (ii) the right to serve a notice on the leaseholder requiring them to put the property back into a reasonable state of repair & condition once the inspection has been carried out; and (iii) the right to carry out the work yourself if the leaseholder continues to be in breach. These rights are usually contained in one clause, known sometimes as a "Jervis v Harris" clause.

I would also expect to see a right to re-enter/forfeit in the event of a breach.

Assuming you benefit from all of the above, I would recommend sending a surveyor in to inspect the property and draw up a schedule of dilapidations, together with a list of required works and estimated costs. That should be followed by a notice, requiring the leaseholder to carry out that work. If the leaseholder continues to fail to comply; either carry out the work yourself and charge it back tot he leaseholder (if you have the power and they have the finances) or apply to the First tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for a determination that a breach has occurred, pursuant to section 168(4) of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002; as a precursor to a notice before forfeiture and (ultimately, if they continue to fail to comply) and application to Court for possession.

It is very unlikely that you will actually get possession, as the leaseholder can always apply for relief, but relief will be granted on the condition that the property is put back into a reasonable state of repair, and that your costs are paid.

Kind regards,

Roger

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