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Dilapidations – What You Can’t Access You Can’t Repair

3rd January, 2010

Sometimes, the courts are called upon to decide matters which are so obvious that the mind boggles as to how a case was brought in the first place.

A recent case involving a local authority is just such a puzzle. The council was concerned that the dilapidated state of part of a building was impairing the overall visual amenity of the area. It therefore served a notice on the occupants requiring them to take remedial steps to repair the elevations of the upper floors of the building. The notice was served by the council on the ground floor and basement tenants (the ground floor and basement not being in disrepair) as well as the tenants of the upper floors (which were dilapidated) and the freeholder.

The council accepted that the ground floor and basement tenants had no control over the condition of the upper floors but refused to withdraw the enforcement notices issued against them, so the matter ended up in court.

The court ruled that when serving such a notice, the land in respect of which the owner and occupier might be served with a notice must be the same as the land in relation to which remedial works were needed and that the notice could only relate to the part of the property which was having an adverse impact on the amenity of the area. The ground floor and first floor tenants did not occupy the relevant part of the property and the notices served on them were therefore quashed.

Eliot Hibbert commented “In this case, the tenants could not have rectified the dilapidations even if they had wanted to, as the upper floors of the building were not within their control. Fortunately for them, the court saw sense.”

For advice on dilapidation issues and other commercial landlord and tenant matters please contact Eliot Hibbert on 01244 405567 or email him here.

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