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Long lease – forfeiture

The CA recently considered an application relating to forfeiture of a long residential lease.

The situation leading to forfeiture developed over a number of years. T was a long lessee of a studio flat which she did not live in and which was not occupied. Due to an oversight, T stopped paying insurance and rent around 2007. L obtained a default judgment for outstanding rent in 2009; a possession order in February 2010; and re-entered the flat that year. Neither of the proceedings were correctly served. T did not find out about the proceedings until 2011 as she had been living abroad. She applied to set aside the possession order and seek relief from forfeiture.

L was marketing the property for sale and refused to undertake not to sell it. Interestingly T did not try to obtain an injunction to prevent the sale.

T lost in the CA which held that the 2010 forfeiture was lawful. The CC only had six months from the date of entry to grant relief against forfeiture – and that period had long passed.

The case is particular to its own facts but is a reminder of the seriousness of the forfeiture of a long lease. Clients must be advised to continue to pay rent and service charge and to ensure that L and any managing agents have up-to-date addresses for service charge and rent demands. It also helps if T does not forget to pay these sums for a period of years. See Gibbs v Lakeside [2018] EWCA Civ 2874 and comment by Hardwicke Chambers.

 

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