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Leasehold enfranchisement and Rights of First Refusal

Tom was the winner of the Barrister of the Year award at the Enfranchisement and Right to Manage Awards 2015. He has substantial experience and expertise in this highly specialist area, and regularly appears at hearings in the FTT, Lands Tribunal and courts for tenants of the big London Estates and both landlords and tenants elsewhere. He has appeared in many of the leading cases including Sportelli, Cravecrest and Jewelcraft. Some further examples of his work are given below. He enjoys both the legal and valuation issues, and works closely with some excellent valuers. He takes pride in saving or making money for clients by identifying and maximising the benefit of valuation arguments.

1967 Act

One of the issues which regularly arises in Tom’ work is whether a property amounts to a “house” for the purposes of this Act. In 2015 he acted for the successful tenant of a shop and upper parts in Jewelcraft Limited v Pressland , and in 2017 has acted for the tenant of a public house, and in cases concerning mixed use office and residential buildings in Portland Place, Mount Street and Wimpole Street, one of which is heading to court in 2018. He has unusually extensive experience of cases involving a section 9(1) valuation, having appeared in some 10 such cases which have reached the Tribunal. The latest such case was recently determined by the Tribunal in his client’s favour. He has also recently appeared in an important case on whether demolition and construction of a new house can be disregarded as an improvement, Portman v Jamieson.

Lease extensions

Common issues include valuation, validity of notice and counter-notice, adequacy of the premium offered, and deemed withdrawal. Issues also often arise as to the extent of the demise. In several cases the LVT hearing has included a determination of whether the tenant has acquired additional land by accretion. Tom has acted for a number of tenants who have successfully resisted the imposition of standard term leases by Cadogan Estate. Recently he has acted for landlords and tenants in a number of cases involving very short leases, raising issues about relativity, deferment rate, discount for 1989 Act rights, and the effect on value of covenants against assignment in the last seven years. An example of a recent lease extension case is WarrenCourt.

Collective enfranchisement

Tom has acted for both landlords and tenants in a number of very high value collective claims.

The potential for development frequently gives rise to complex legal and valuation issues, including whether the landlord can grant airspace leases to retain a share of development potential and whether a roof development is consistent with the existing leases. In the post recession boom he acted for tenants of super prime properties resisting claims for development value, such as 2 Herbert Crescent (Cadogan v 2 Herbert Crescent Freehold Limited)39 Wilton Crescent (Themeline v Vowdenand 38 Wilton Crescent (Cravecrest v Duke of Westminster) all of which involved appeals to the Upper Tribunal or the Court of Appeal. Tom also acts for landlords claiming development value, such as Royal Tower Lodge securing a premium of £860,000 for the value of a development of 8 flats on the roof of an existing block. More recently he acted for the owner of a block in Chelsea which concerned telecoms leases of equipment on the roof, including whether they could be acquired, what they were worth, and on the possibility of leasebacks.

Recently Tom has been involved in a number of cases relating to the acquisition of overriding leases on the Grosvenor Estate, which raise difficult issues of statutory construction and valuation. The most recent of these, which went to the Court of Appeal, is Regent Wealth Ltd v Wiggins.

Currently he is involved in cases concerning whether modern developments with underground car parks amount to one or more “self contained building”, and whether tenants of live work units which now have permitted residential use can claim to be qualifying tenants.

Rights of First Refusal.

Tom regularly advises on issues arising under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, including whether s5 Notices have to be served, on avoidance schemes, and on enforcement against purchasers. He also frequently advises on the interplay between rights of first refusal and collective enfranchisement, including the relevance of s5 notices on the premium payable.

More examples of his work appear in his list of cases.

Tom is a member of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) and also lectures regularly on leasehold enfranchisement. In 2017 he gave lectures at conferences organised by News on The Block, ALEP, CLT and MBL.