As a break from the usual leasehold skulduggery, we draw readers attention to this nonsense: a banker couple are spending £50-80,000 to keep their lapdog in their penthouse.
Gabby and Florian Kuehn were given permission by the freeholder of Victory Place in Limehouse, east London – in the constituency of our patron Jim Fitzpatrick MP – 18 months ago when they bought their £1 million flat.
Now, the site’s management company has transferred to the residents and they have introduced a no pets policy.
Victory Place Management Company Limited, which appears to have seven resident directors, has taken the matter to the county court in what appears to be a most foolish and self-indulgent court action. Surely one of the seven would have had some sense?
It is singularly depressing for the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, which urges leaseholders to be self-governing without the intercedence of a monetising freeholder, to see leaseholders fall out over something so petty.
The Kuehns have been photographed in the papers today with assorted grisly canine puns in the headlines. So they are playing this to the gallery.
Is it reasonable that they have to part with Vinnie, their five-year-old Yorkshire terrier cross, because of the change in policy for pets at Victory Place?
But – perhaps it’s a personal thing – it seems to us a very tall order to tell owners to dump their dog.
Wouldn’t it have been possible to allow existing pets to stay, but admit no further ones?
Other dog requests have been refused by Victory Place Management Company Limited, it appears.
This is not to minimise the trouble pets can cause, particularly if they are left to fulfil their bodily needs in the flats’ corridors, or some other neglected corner.
One man who fully understands the importance of pets to flat owners – if only as a source of revenue – is Tchenguiz-trained Will Astor, the heir to the viscountcy and Samantha Cameron’s half-brother.
His Homeground / Long Harbour own and manage a portfolio of £700 million of residential freeholds.
Among the freeholders – which he either part owns, or owns with his family and others, or simply manages – is the Adriatic Land portfolio of freeholds.
Adriatic Land is the freeholder of many of the leasehold houses sold by developers such as Taylor Wimpey, Bellway and Persimmon.
Mr Astor’s excellent, automated Homeground website allows consents for pets … for a price, naturally.
Memo to beleaguered leasehold house owners: forget the doubling ground rents and your family’s impoverishment for a moment: is your dog or cat safe, or can you expect a call from Mr Astor seeking a fee?
A bit of a dilemma over pets in leasehold properties.
Leaseholders require permission (at great expense) to keep a pet.
And yet, a freeholder can be a rat, and a managing agent can be a snake!
I was sure that Michael Epstein would be the first comment with a joke. I was right.
Karma will bite later when one of the other leaseholders has a prospective tenant with a non-negotiable desire to keep a cat.
No pets is the official policy at our development too, but an agreed blind-eye was turned once to a resident with a dog smaller than Vinnie on condition that he entered and left in a shopping basket, and honour was satisfied on all sides.
Whatever about the wisdom of this particular legal action it’s worth mentioning that in the event of leaseholders taking control of a development via RTM they should go on to acquire the freehold.
In the event, say, of a large dog being left alone and barking incessantly the freeholder would have no economic incentive at all to deal with the problem, leaving leaseholders with little option but to take action, with all of the attendant unpleasantness of pitting neighbour against neighbour. But this is not really an argument for having a 3rd party as landlord.
In this case the neighbours can presumably easily afford their action (one hopes they are donors to charity on an even larger scale). That’s not the case in every development.
Had there been a resident management company in place from the beginning there would likely not have been a problem as the rules would have been clear and not have changed without a agreement of the other leaseholders (as is the norm in condominiums in the US and communal developments in many other countries).
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the dog was a proxy for the intended target of the action. British banking is still a cesspit of corruption, fraud and dishonesty and not everybody wants to live next a banker.
See, for example, the latest from Ian Fraser (author of Shredded on the collapse of RBS)
And yet it is the taxpayers, millions of whom are leaseholders, who are on the hook for their crimes.
Surely whether pets can be kept or not depends on the lease ?
If pets are excluded then it’s clear you can’t have a pet. Some owners may have bought their properties on the basis that they hate animals and want to live in a pet free development.
However if the lease allows pets then the reverse applies. N
o detail of what the lease stipulates is given in this article so it’s impossible to judge whether this Court action is justified or not. If the lease is silent on the matter then pets would be allowed.as there is nothing in the lease to exclude them. Surely then if the lease has no restriction pets should be allowed ? Is it right that the management company can override the lease ? They are in place to manage the site not change provisions/rights/restrictions in the lease
Reading more of the press articles it appears the lease does infact have a no pets clause. But the freeholder gave specific consent to this couple. (Not clear whether this was before or after they purchased their flat). And herein lies the cause of the problem the freeholder should not have done this. Why on earth would they grant such consent ? Just tell the couple you cannot have a pet END OF. Be interesting to see the Court ruling on this one.
Many leases have a discretionary consent, hence Home Ground having pet consents as one of its categories
What we need to establish then is whether the “no pets” restriction in Mr & Mrs Kuehn’s lease is discretionary or not. If it’s not then to my mind the freeholder is out of order by allowing them to have the dog. I understand that if both parties (freeholder and lessee) agreed to amend a lease then they can do so. But what about the other residents who bought in the development specifically because they hate/fear living with dogs etc. Not fair on everybody else is it ?
If the restriction in the lease IS discretionary presumably dependant upon freeholder’s approval then fair enough all other residents bought knowing full well the discretion could be exercised and they may have to live near a dog. In this scenario the couple should be allowed to keep their dog and the managing company should allow this, after all it is provided for in the lease.
My apartment has a no pets clause and there is no mention of it being discretionary and I would guess this is the situation with most leases.
So is lease the discretionary or not in this case, that’s the issue.
I agree with all of Ian Martins comments, and would of said the same. I have been involved with managing Freehold blocks of flats (Freehold owned by the residents) and we were always told that we could not alter the actual lease.
We had a small group of residents who wanted to have “renting out of apartments excluded” (the lease said rental was allowed providing the applicant met the applicable criteria, age etc) but we were told we could not change the lease. Likewise the lease said no pets, so there were no pets.
I do now also take admins point
Oh dear, just spotted my terrible grammatical mistake, “would of said”, have to apologise for that.
Sebastian, we should be allowed to do an “edit” !!!
Although this seems a ludicrous scenario pets v no pets is a tricky one ! Our lease says no pets without consent. However this throws up anomalies in that we have a dog in our block which was apparently allowed by the previous managing agent as it was old. When it died no replacement but the residents have now got a ‘new’ dog and pretended for sometime it wasn’t theirs!! We now also have a lady with supposedly 1 cat that turned out to be 2!! These are the most annoying things in trying to manage ‘people’ not premises. I agree it should be no pets OR pets then no-one is in doubt. If you allow for one how can you refuse others and so it goes on ———–?!
That’s the problem having a “without consent” restriction. Causes all sorts of problems. Freeholder may consent to a Yorkshire Terrier but not an Irish Wolfhound. But what about a Pitbull or a Doberman a bit dangerous perhaps ? What about a German Shepherd as they’re not dangerous are they ? Or are they ? What about a Jack Russell surely no harm with one of those, but they can be one of the most yappy dogs around. What if somebody wants a Shih Tzu but it keeps Shih Tzuing in the common areas ? A nightmare !!