Colman Coyle were instructed on behalf of the landlord of a number of properties in Hackney London, the ground floors of which had been let to a commercial tenant. The landlord opposed the tenant’s lease renewal claim under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 on grounds (b) (rent arrears) and (f) (redevelopment). The tenant argued that ground (b) could not be made out because it had various cross claims against the landlord which exceeded the rent that was owed and also that the landlord would not be granted planning permission, so that ground (f) could not succeed.
After a four day trial, in respect of which we instructed Nathaniel Duckworth of Falcon Chambers, HHJ Monty QC decided in favour of the landlord on both grounds, and dismissed the application for a new lease.
The decision in respect of the rent claim was of particular interest because of the highly unusual set of circumstances and the background to the dispute. However, despite the tenant’s arguments, the Judge decided that the cross claims were not sufficiently connected to the claim for rent under the lease to set up a defence of equitable set-off. The Judge further concluded that even if there had been a right of equitable set-off, the rent was still due under the lease and ground (b) was made out.
In relation to ground (f), the Judge found that the tenant’s expert, who had been instructed by his clients to oppose the planning application, lacked impartiality. In contrast, the landlord was able to provide evidence from independent architectural and planning experts that planning permission would indeed be given and that the requirements of ground (f) were satisfied. The Judge preferred the evidence of our clients’ expert, who had no prior interest in the dispute.
For any assistance in a dispute of this nature or indeed where any specialist property litigation advice is required please contact Anne Brown of Colman Coyle on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)20 7354 3000.