In what is hopefully not an inauspicious ruling for leaseholders in over-the-web justice, 11 leasehold house owners have failed to win the right to buy the freehold to their homes.
Although they won their case in the property tribunal, the High Court accepted the landlord’s appeal that not all the houses were in fact single dwellings and therefore the leaseholders were not entitled to acquire the freeholds under the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
The hearing was held via video-conference, rather than held at the Bristol Civil Justice Centre, and the judgement makes reference to “the appeal was conducted remotely over the internet … during the COVID-19 “coronavirus” pandemic”.
The reason the leaseholders failed was that one of the properties had a tripartite lease – with a landlord, management company and lessee, whose premises defined in the lease were not the whole house. It could more accurately be termed a flat, albeit in a single building.
This point had not been addressed in the lower court, but was accepted by Mr Justice Marcus Smith who upheld the appeal.
“Although in some respects finely balanced, I have reached the clear conclusion that the construction favoured by the Appellant is correct and that a tenant does not fall within the enfranchisement regime of the 1967 Act unless he or she is the tenant of substantially the whole of a leasehold house.”
The leaseholders were ordered to pay up the landlord’s £14,000 costs within 14 days.
The freehold owning entity in this case was Freehold Properties 250 Limited – whose directors are given by Companies House as Robert Steinhouse, Jennifer Jackson-Shilling and Stephen Whybrow.
On a side note, Robert Steinhouse, LKP readers may recall, is the freeholder who managed to offload for £1 the freehold of cladding site Nova House in Slough onto the council in an as yet unexplained deal.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICEBUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS OF ENGLAND AND WALES IN BRISTOLCHANCERY APPEALS (ChD) On the appeal from the order of Mr Recorder Norman dated 19 July 2019 sitting at the County Court at Bristol Mr Justice Marcus Smith: A.