A tenant of a long residential lease estimated to be worth £600,000 has lost his entire investment as a result of carrying out unauthorised alterations to his flat and then ignoring requests from the landlord.
Charles McCadden purchased the upstairs flat in a Victorian terraced property in Kensal Green. The lower floor flat was owned by Afshan Malik who also owned the freehold and consequently was Mr McCadden’s landlord.
Mr McCadden then redecorated the flat and had a new kitchen, bathroom and central heating system installed. It is not clear exactly what the terms of Mr McCadden’s lease were but they presumably included provisions about not making alterations without the landlord’s consent. The alterations he made must have been such as to require the consent of the landlord. Mr McCadden did not seek the necessary consent and then appears to have ignored attempts by the landlord to resolve matters. It is also alleged that he failed to pay the service charge on the flat.
The landlord applied to the Lands Tribunal. Mr McCadden appears not to have engaged with the Tribunal and subsequently stated that he was not aware of the proceedings as he was looking after his ill father.
The Tribunal, which visited the property, but could not gain access to the upstairs flat, were satisfied that alterations had been made in breach of the lease. Further it was satisfied that the breaches were serious and ordered Mr McCadden to pay the outstanding service charge of £216.62 and the £300 tribunal fee. A small price to pay you may think to preserve an asset worth £600,000.
However Mr McCadden refused to pay and so Dr Malik applied to the county court for forfeiture of the lease and for a possession order. This brought the lease to an end and she became the owner of the upstairs flat.
Whilst it my not seem fair that Mr MCadden has lost a valuable asset it is a salient lesson to all flat owners.
The law provides a lot of protection to tenants but if you breach the terms of your lease and then do nothing to rectify matters you are likely to find yourself in the same position as Mr McCadden.
Make sure you know the terms of your lease and that you comply with them. And further when buying a leasehold property ask your solicitor to explain the lease to you and what your obligations under it are.