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If your legal problem is connected in any way to a piece of land, Desmond will tackle it (although he leaves planning law to others). His practice includes all kinds of disputes which arise out of developments and conveyancing, all types of commercial and residential landlord and tenant matters, as well as social housing problems (including homelessness). He acts for property owners, landlords and tenants and professional advisors at every stage. In the last year, he has been involved in: A claim by a man to a co-ownership share in the multi-million property portfolio and letting business of his former fiancee A rectification of title claim to establish easements of prescription so as to benefit a proposed development An action against a bridging finance company for failure to comply with their equitable duties when selling mortgaged property A service charge dispute where the leaseholders of a local authority are seeking to prevent the authority dispensing with consultation requirements A professional negligence dispute arising out of an inadequately drafted mortgage arrangement A nuisance case concerning damage caused by naturally flowing water A number of business tenancy claims, rent reviews, boundary and other neighbour disputes, possession and disrepair actions
Where a landlord has carried out a section 20 consultation in respect of major works but a genuinely unforeseen issue needs to be addressed during the works: Can the landlord incur these extra costs and re-charge as service charge? Or Will the landlord have to apply for retrospective dispensation if no provision was made for these additional works/associated costs during the consultation procedure?
Where a landlord has transferred its freehold interest to a new company, but the new company is not yet registered as the freehold proprietor at the land registry, should the tenant serve a Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (LTA 1954) section 26 notice on the new landlord or the old landlord who remains registered as the freeholder at the land registry. Would the position change if the new landlord had served a LTA 1954, s 40(1) request for further information on the tenant?
Where a lease contains a fully qualified covenant against assignment and the tenant assigns without consent, is the assignment itself valid, notwithstanding the assignor's breach of covenant and the landlord's potential remedies such as forfeiture, and would the assignee accordingly be able to register their interest at the Land Registry?
Where a lease entitles the landlord to enter the demised premises in order to carry out 'surveys', does this entitle the landlord to carry out an intrusive survey (ie one involving drilling)?
Where a long lease is purchased in the name of a company which is wholly owned by two parties who then a year later transfer the title into their individual names, would the period of ownership in the name of the company count towards the two-year period under Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, section 39(2), or would time only start to run from May 2016 when it was transferred into the parties’ individual names?
Where a long residential lease provides that at the end of the accounting year a certificate of any deficit or surplus must be served on the lessee confirming the figure, is this a separate document from the end of year accounts?
Where a notice to determine a tenancy at will of business premises has been served, but the occupier has remained in occupation, can the landlord re-enter the premises to recover possession?
Where a property is let, who is the dutyholder in respect of asbestos at the property as between landlord, tenant and any subtenant? Can the duty be assigned to another party? Does the landlord have an overarching liability?
Where a residential long leasehold property was bought at auction, no details of service charge arrears were disclosed and the transfer to the purchaser does not include a covenant that the purchaser will comply with covenants in the lease, is the purchaser liable for arrears of service charge pre-dating its ownership?
Where a residential tenancy provides for items of furniture to be replaced by the tenant where they are removed, will the term 'replacement' require the tenant paying the original cost of the item or the current cost of replacing the item like for like? If the Landlord chooses to replace the original item with a cheaper one, does the tenant still need to pay the cost of the original item?
Where a tenant has covenanted to reinstate at the end of the term alterations made during a tenancy, can the landlord insist on reinstatement despite the fact that the previous installations were inferior and so there is no benefit to the landlord?
Where a tenant pays service charge quarterly (and the service charge includes the tenant’s proportion of the insurance premium), but the landlord is required to pay the insurance premium in a single payment, can the landlord recover the whole of the tenant’s proportion of the premium in the first quarterly service charge instalment or must it be spread across the quarterly payment dates?
Where an assignment of a registered lease is made by one registered charity to another, will the trustees of the assignor trust hold the registered legal title on behalf of the assignee trust in circumstances where an application has been made to dissolve the assignor trust?
Where an AST is granted after October 2015 and the landlord protected the deposit within 30 days, but did not serve the prescribed information (eg Gas Appliance Safety Certificate, the Energy Performance Certificate or the 'How to Rent' checklist) within 30 days or at all, what must the landlord do now in order to be able to serve an s 21 notice?
Where the freehold owner of business premises intends to continue occupying them for its business for three months following completion of a sale under a tenancy with the new owner, does this tenancy need to be contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (LTA 1954) because, for the purposes of LTA 1954, s 43(3), its occupation of the premises as owner is considered to count as part of the 12 months occupation requirement?
Where the landlord of a long residential lease obtained judgment for service charge arrears, served a section 146 notice and obtained an order for possession that was later set aside: what is the current state of the forfeiture of the lease (and is there any need for the tenant to apply for relief?) and must the landlord begin new proceedings for further service charge arrears?
Where the legal title to a property is held 100% in party A's name but B has a beneficial interest in the proceeds of sale by virtue of having contributed to the purchase price (or some other Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 claim), can party B apply to register a Restriction against the title?
Where the TR1 states the parties hold the property as tenants in common in the following shares: 70% to party A and 30% to party B, is this referring to the net equity in the property or the gross value? On a sale of the property, should the outstanding mortgage (in the parties' joint names) be settled prior to splitting the net proceeds between the parties?
Where the whole of the dominant tenement and part of the servient tenement are commonly owned, does unity of seisin apply to that part of the servient tenement? Does this mean easements affecting that part of the servient tenement are automatically extinguished as a result of common ownership, or is it necessary for the whole of both tenements to be commonly owned before this principle applies?
Would a licence to occupy constitute parting with possession?
Property Bar Association
Chancery Bar Association
Founder Member of Social Housing Law Association
Inner Temple Examination Scholar (1990)
University of Southampton (LLB (Hons) 2.1)
Kings College, London (LLM)
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