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Miltonland v Platinum House (Harrow) RTM Co (2015)

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Upper Tribunal decision centres on wording

A right to manage application was made by an RTM company, concerning a property described in the claim form as:

‘Platinum House, Lyon Road, Harrow and appurtenant property (within the area edged in red on freehold plan NGL88768) (“the Premises”)’

The plan itself was not attached to the claim form, referencing only the freehold title plan which encompassed Platinum House and its grounds, together with a small yard in the north-west corner of the plot. The landlord argued that the RTM’s application was defective because the small yard was not defined and was not ‘appurtenant property’.

The Law

The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 sets out the criteria for right to manage applications and the properties which qualify; they must ben a self-contained building or part of a building, with or without appurtenant property which may include a garage, outhouse, garden, yard or other appurtenances belonging to, or enjoyed by, the property.

The form is prescribed by statute and details of the RTM company, the qualifying tenants and the premises must be set out. However, under case law (Gala Unity v Ariadne Road RTM Company [2012] and Pineview v 80 Crampton Street RTM Company [2013]), it is not necessary to state whether any ‘appurtenant property’ is comprised within the application, nor to state what that appurtenant property may be.

Premises need only be named and, whilst clarity is important to ensure that both parties are aware of the premises for which they are responsible, there is no requirement for a plan or further description to be supplied, certainly in the case of property appurtenant to the main self-contained building.

The 2002 Act also states that an application is not invalidated by any inaccuracy as to the required details. The definition of ‘inaccuracy’ is, according to the Courts, restricted to spelling or typography errors and is not intended to go so far as to encompass rectification of more substantial details.

The Decision

The Upper Tribunal agreed with the RTM company and dismissed the landlord’s appeal, holding that the premises were correctly described in the application. Under the existing case law, there was no requirement to define ‘appurtenant property’.

The UT’s decision centred on the wording, ‘(within the area edged red on freehold plan NGL88768)’ and whether such wording was required when defining the premises. It was held that, whilst Platinum House was situated within the red line, it was obvious that the building formed only part of the premises delineated by the plan. The premises forming the subject of the application should be construed as being the land within the area edged red which can be properly included within the claim. Therefore, the premises should be interpreted as Platinum House and its appurtenant property. No further description is necessary. As such, the words ‘(within the area edged red on freehold plan NGL88768)’ could not be interpreted as including the small yard area as appurtenant property forming part of the application.

Further, the UT noted that the landlord had somewhat exaggerated the degree of confusion caused by the wording of the application in an attempt to have the application dismissed.

Commenting on the decision, JB Leitch’s Rob Denman says:

“By its nature, ‘appurtenant property’ is difficult to define and the Upper Tribunal recognised in Platinum House the fact that many rights arise by implication. This case highlights the importance of understanding the sometimes complex legislation and case law affecting right-to-manage applications. Certainly here, less is more and keeping the property description short and simple could have saved both parties considerable time and expense.”

This case highlights the importance of understanding the sometimes complex legislation and case law affecting right-to-manage applications.

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