A landlord's consent to alterations may constitute a breach of covenant by the landlord

In the case of Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd, the Court of Appeal has found that a landlord that ignores the terms of a lease when deciding whether or not to grant consent to alterations, may inadvertently find themselves in breach of covenant.

The issue in this case is often encountered by landlords of residential blocks let on long leases, where it is common for the leases to contain provisions stating that all the leases in the block will be granted on similar terms and that the landlord will, at the request of a tenant, take enforcement action in respect of a breach of the lease by another tenant.

The leases of all the flats in this particular block contained an absolute prohibition against a tenant cutting into the roof, ceilings or boundary walls of a flat, and did not contain any provision for the landlord to be able to give consent to proposed alterations which would involve these works.

The tenant of one particular flat nevertheless requested consent for alterations which would involve cutting into various walls, and the landlord was willing to give consent. The tenants of two other flats argued that the landlord was required to enforce a breach of the prohibition against those works if requested to do so, and would not be able to take enforcement action if consent to the works had been given.

The Court of Appeal agreed with this reasoning and held that by granting the tenant a licence to carry out works which were prohibited under the lease, the landlord was in breach of their enforcement covenant. 

This case therefore highlights that landlords must be very careful when dealing with requests for consent to works which are strictly prohibited under a lease. DKLM are able to offer advice and assistance with regard to applications for such consents.

Preena Shah

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