Aldford House Freehold Ltd v Grosvenor (Mayfair) Estate and K Group Inc [2019] EWCA Civ 1848

In this case a group of participating tenants claimed the freehold of Aldford House, a large block of flats fronting Park Lane, under Chapter I of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 1993 Act. The freeholder, Grosvenor Estate, and head lessee, K Group, challenged their right to do so on the grounds that they did not own the requisite 50% of the total number of flats held by qualifying tenants, and the initial notice did not identify four qualifying tenants. That depended on whether newly constructed premises on the sixth and seventh floors of the building had been “constructed or adapted for use for the purposes of a dwelling”, so as to meet the definition of  “flats” in section 101(1) of the 1993 Act. The shell of each flat had been constructed, but they had no services and had not been fitted out, so were uninhabitable. Fancourt J had held that they were flats as they were separate sets of premises which had been constructed for the purposes of dwellings, the only use permitted under the leases and planning control. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, holding that “a separate set of premises is not a flat (as defined) unless at some stage in its history it has reached a stage of construction to be suitable for use for the purposes of a dwelling”. As the premises had not reached that stage, they were not yet flats. This decision is equally relevant to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 which contains the same definition of “flat”. Tom Jefferies was junior counsel for K Group.

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