Those who hold long leases over their homes often think that their position is almost exactly the same as a freeholder. However, one case in which a tenant with a 999-year lease was accused of making unauthorised alterations to his property showed how very wrong that assumption can be.
The lease of the large detached house was subject to restrictive covenants which, amongst other things, forbade its extension or modification without the landlord’s consent. With a view to seeking forfeiture of the lease, the landlord argued that various works had been carried out in breach of those terms.
The tenant had some years earlier been licensed by the landlord to carry out certain modifications to the property. However, the latter argued that what had been done went well beyond that which had been permitted. The landlord sought a declaration under Section 168 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 that the tenant had breached the covenants.
The landlord’s complaints were, however, rejected by the First-tier Tribunal. In dismissing his challenge to that ruling, the Upper Tribunal accepted the tenant’s explanation that the relevant modifications to the property had been made by his predecessor in title, before he bought the lease.