Land & Property Disputes
At Clarke & Son, our experienced solicitors endeavour to resolve disputes in a timely and professional manner and can represent and advise clients on a range of land and property dispute issues.
Our Disputes Resolution team cover all different aspects of land and property. Our expert team can help you with:
- Lease Disputes
- Rented Residential Property
- Service Charge Disputes
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Our Dispute Resolutions team are on hand to assist land and property dispute enquiries, get in touch to book an appointment.
Dilapidations generally refer to items of disrepair that are covered by repairing covenants contained in a lease; more specifically they are related to alleged breaches of the tenant’s covenants relating to the physical state of the premises when the lease ends.
The remedies available to the landlord depending on the specific terms of the lease and whether or not the term of the lease has expired. In addition to the legal position regarding remedies, there may be practical considerations as to how and when a landlord takes enforcement action.
This is also an important area when a business tenant seeks to extend its lease or operate a break clause. A failure by a tenant to comply with the terms of its lease may result in these rights being lost.
Often it is necessary for both landlord and tenant to appoint a surveyor. This is part of a Protocol relating to dilapidation. This Protocol for dilapidation should be followed as far as possible in all cases. The Protocol itself is designed so as to isolate the key issues and to enable settlement to be achieved wherever possible.
We can advise initially but then work with the surveyor to ensure that your position, whether as a landlord or a tenant, is most effectively protected. If Court proceedings are necessary we then become more involved but continue to work with your surveyor and you in order to try to ensure an early commercial resolution to any dispute.
We can assist you in finding sensible resolutions to any such disputes and ensuring that all necessary procedures are followed where leases are to be renewed.
Unfortunately, from time to time disputes can arise between landlords and tenants and in particular those relating to service charges and dilapidations. There are also statutory procedures to take account of when dealing with lease renewals where tenants have protected rights under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954.
Rented Residential Property
Buy to Let has become increasingly popular with many people investing in property and seeing good returns from rental income and capital growth.
It is vital all the legal elements are in place. Landlords come in all guises from large businesses with an extensive portfolio to private individuals with a single property.
The starting point for every Landlord is to ensure the paperwork is in order. This can range from pre-tenancy credit checks, inventories and the preparation of tenancy agreements to the correct registration of deposits and monitoring of by the tenant of obligations throughout the tenancy not least of which is timely payment of rent!
A letting agent will often deal with all these matters for you. If you are an experienced Landlord you will probably have an agent. In particular, the letting agent can help you comply with the tenancy deposit requirements.
Where a solicitor typically becomes involved is when things go wrong! Remember that letting property is a business and all businesses have risks.
If rent is not paid then an alarm bell should go off straight away and it is important that prompt action is taken to protect the landlord’s position. There will be cost but when compared with a month to month loss of income which rapidly mounts up then there is nothing to gain from a delay. The Court process which normally has to be followed is not quick and can be frustrating for landlords. Notices have to be served, proceedings issued, a possession order obtained and then enforced; you can be looking at a period of several months before you can get your property back. However, it is the only way to move the situation forward.
This is where we can help with specific advice on the problem confronting you and the best way to move matters forward. Damage limitation is critical and the sooner we are involved the better. If it means issuing court proceedings for possession and arrears we will do this as soon as possible.
We will provide you with fixed-fee quotes for each stage of the process so you can manage costs.
You may find that you have legal expenses insurance cover in place under the insurance for the property or through your letting agent. Contact the insurer straight away to find out if you may be covered for this type of claim. The cover is not normally retrospective. You can let the insurer know you wish us to act on your behalf.
Service Charge Disputes
A service charge is a mechanism contained in a lease of premises usually located in a centre such as a multi-let building or series of buildings, or a shopping centre or retail park that allows the landlord to recover its running costs from the tenants.
There is often a direct conflict between the interests of landlord and tenant in relation to the service charge provisions:
The landlord will regard the primary purpose of the service charge provisions as enabling it to achieve a “clear” rent. The landlord, therefore, wants all its expenses to be paid by the tenant.
The tenant will see the primary purpose of the service charge provisions as setting out the landlord’s duties in relation to the services. The tenant, therefore, wants to remove from the service charge provisions all those items that it thinks should be paid for by the landlord.
Service charges for residential property are subject to extensive legislation. At present, there is no statutory framework for controlling the level of service charges for commercial property. As such, the parties are free to negotiate whatever service charge provisions they wish and where a dispute arises this will be settled by reference to the terms of the lease (contract).
We will assist with the initial drafting of service charge provisions or can advise on existing provisions. We act for landlords and tenants. We also advise in the event a dispute arises although the lease itself will often contain mechanisms for arbitration or mediation.