Lead Forensics
Prettys Solicitors Ipswich


Tenant’s Liability for Recladding in the Wake of Grenfell

In March the First Tier Property Tribunal ruled in a potentially significant case relating to the issue of who should pay for the cost of replacing cladding on a block of flats.

The case concerned a Citiscape development built in 2001 by Barratt Homes, which comprised a ten storey block of flats and a six storey block of flats. Following Grenfell, the property management company, First Port Property Services, found that the cladding was similar to the aluminium cladding composite at Grenfell and consequently hired a fire marshal to patrol each block at an annual cost of £263,000.

Following a survey, the cost of replacing the cladding was assessed to be £483,000. The property management company then sought to recover the cost of the replacement cladding along with the cost of the fire marshal from the tenants by way of the service charge.  It was these charges that were subject to the tribunal dispute.

The tenants in question all held 999 year tripartite leases. Such leases are designed to allow the landlord to rid themselves of the responsibility for maintaining the property, instead passing this on to a third party company. Whilst this company will usually be run by the lessees, who have a capital interest in the property, in this instance the third party was First Port.

The tribunal concluded that the tenants were liable for the cost of replacement cladding and the service charge relating to the fire marshal. The tribunal stated that “by granting 999 year leases the original freeholder was effectively relinquishing any capital interest in the flats. It is reasonable to conclude that the parties would have intended that all future costs associated with the block would be the responsibility of the tenants. That intention is reinforced by the use of identical words to define both the manager’s obligation to undertake work, and the tenant’s obligation to pay for it.”

It is likely that this decision will be appealed.

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