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Long leases.

The editors of this section are Piers Harrison, barrister (enfranchisement) and Jonathan Upton, barrister (service charges), assisted by Harriet Holmes, Richard Alford, Katie Gray, Diane Doliveux, Caoimhe McKearney, Will Beetson and Sam Madge-Wyld all of Tanfield Chambers London.

Service Charges

Reasonableness

Dehavilland Studios Limited v Peries
[2017] UKUT 322 (LC)

Summary

The Upper Tribunal reversed the decision of the First-tier Tribunal that the decision of the landlord to repair the windows rather than replace them was unreasonable on the basis that the surveyors’ reports of both parties suggested that replacement was the preferable option. As both options were reasonable, it was not open to the FTT to find that charges incurred in repairing the windows were unreasonable.

Facts

The FTT was asked to determine the reasonableness of a number of service charge items, including the repair of the windows. The parties were in agreement that the windows in the building were defective. However, there was a considerable dispute as to the consequences of the disrepair. It was the landlord's (L’s) view that the windows could be repaired and that was the solution it proposed. It was the tenants’ view that all of the windows in the building should be replaced.

Replacing the windows was a significantly more expensive option, but there was expert evidence before the FTT that the windows were near to the end of their natural life and, even after repair, would need to be replaced in around 15 years.

First Instance

In respect of the windows, the FTT held that the costs incurred in respect of repairing the windows were not reasonable. The Tribunal went on to say that it considered that the replacement of the windows was “the most reasonable option.” The Tribunal recorded in its decision that both experts had said that replacement or repair was reasonable. L appealed principally on the basis that the FTT had applied the wrong test.

Decision on appeal

The Upper Tribunal granted the appeal and dismissed a cross appeal. The Upper Tribunal found that the FTT had not determined that it was unreasonable for L to ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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