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kapowaz
17-05-2011, 10:29 AM
My girlfriend and I moved into an apartment last summer, and shortly after moving in it became clear that the storage cupboard in the hall of the apartment block that belongs to the property was locked and inaccessible. After asking the letting agency for the keys we were told that the storage cupboard wasn't part of the property and that the landlord was using it for personal storage, and was unwilling to grant access.

The storage cupboard wasn't explicitly excluded anywhere in the tenancy agreement, so I felt that this meant it was implicitly included, as it belongs to the property and undoubtedly forms part of the landlord's leasehold. For a while I argued the point with them in a series of exchanges, but the landlord wasn't willing to budge. Due to illness and a few other things going on in my life I let the matter drop.

We're now at the point of looking to renew our tenancy, but in the meantime I've discovered that there is another storage cupboard on the site (at ground level) which belongs to the apartment, and which we naturally don't have any access to. Before we renew I'd like to try and get the landlord to agree to us having access to these storage cupboards as the property is short on storage space as it is, and a ground floor cupboard would be great for storing bikes etc.

What I'm wondering is how best to approach this? All our contact with the landlord is via the agency, and he has been intractable throughout, although the agency hasn't been particularly helpful either. To quote them in their most recent contact on the subject: ‘It has never been implied or stated that this unit came with the property and should it have been the case, mention of this would have been made in the tenancy agreement.’ — my opinion is that the particular parts of the property don't have to be explicitly included since they're obviously part of the leasehold (and otherwise couldn't the landlord deny us access to arbitrary rooms in the apartment if they're not included in the agreement?).

Is the law on our side? Have we any leverage over the landlord or will we just be encouraging him to explicitly exclude it in a revised agreement for the subsequent year? Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated!

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 11:28 AM
It all depends on how the let premises were defined in the Letting Agreement.
For instance, the description might be just the flat's postal address. If so, and if your L owns just this flat, the let premises comprise all that he owns. L has to state what's excluded- whatever's there is otherwise deemed included.
Here's s.62 of the Law of Property Act 1925: Oh, and- in this context- 'conveyance' includes any Deed or Agreement.

62. General words implied in conveyances.

(1) A conveyance of land shall be deemed to include and shall by virtue of this Act operate to convey, with the land, all buildings, erections, fixtures, commons, hedges, ditches, fences, ways, waters, water-courses, liberties, privileges, easements, rights, and advantages whatsoever, appertaining or reputed to appertain to the land, or any part thereof, or, at the time of conveyance, demised, occupied, or enjoyed with, or reputed or known as part or parcel of or appurtenant to the land or any part thereof.

(2) A conveyance of land, having houses or other buildings thereon, shall be deemed to include and shall by virtue of this Act operate to convey, with the land, houses, or other buildings, all outhouses, erections, fixtures, cellars, areas, courts, courtyards, cisterns, sewers, gutters, drains, ways, passages, lights, watercourses, liberties, privileges, easements, rights, and advantages whatsoever, appertaining or reputed to appertain to the land, houses, or other buildings conveyed, or any of them, or any part thereof, or, at the time of conveyance, demised, occupied, or enjoyed with, or reputed or known as part or parcel of or appurtenant to, the land, houses, or other buildings conveyed, or any of them, or any part thereof.

(3)...[irrelevant]

(4) This section applies only if and as far as a contrary intention is not expressed in the conveyance, and has effect subject to the terms of the conveyance and to the provisions therein contained.

(5) This section shall not be construed as giving to any person a better title to any property, right, or thing in this section mentioned than the title which the conveyance gives to him to the land or manor expressed to be conveyed, or as conveying to him any property, right, or thing in this section mentioned, further or otherwise than as the same could have been conveyed to him by the conveying parties.

(6)...

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 12:01 PM
That's more or less what I had assumed, based on what the letting agreement states, which is as follows:





AND IS MADE IN RELATION TO THE PROPERTY SITUATED AT AND BEING:
Property: <address> address of Property excluding any part not included or specifically included such as garage or parking space in the Tenancy)

The real question at this point is what can we do about it? If we go to the letting agents and quote the relevant section from the Law of Property Act you've cited, I'm wondering just what they'd do about it. Do I have any leverage over the landlord since I brought the matter up and he refused to comply with his legal obligations?

P.Pilcher
17-05-2011, 12:34 PM
I think tht your only hope is to refuse to renew the tenancy unless access to the cupboards is granted and move out on the last day of your current tenancy agreement if such permission is not forthcoming.

P.P.

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 12:36 PM
Speaking as a landlord, how threatened would you feel by a tenant doing that to you? I live in a relatively well-sought-after area, so I don't doubt that the landlord could fill the property relatively quickly (maybe 3-4 weeks?) — is that small duration without occupancy enough of a reason to want to negotiate over something like that?

thevaliant
17-05-2011, 12:43 PM
My girlfriend and I moved into an apartment last summer, and shortly after moving in it became clear that the storage cupboard in the hall of the apartment block that belongs to the property was locked and inaccessible. After asking the letting agency for the keys we were told that the storage cupboard wasn't part of the property and that the landlord was using it for personal storage, and was unwilling to grant access.

I'm a little confused here. Where exactly is this storage cupboard? In the communal hall which is accessible by all residents of the building, or in YOUR hall, in YOUR flat?

Is this storage cupboard marked as clearly belonging to your flat? (EG Flat X storage cupboard only).

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 12:46 PM
The first cupboard is in the communal stairway hall, and is numbered (not with the flat number, as those are in sequence with the other houses in the street, so rather they're numbered 1-6 — one to each apartment). The second cupboard is at the rear of the flats, outside, and again is numbered in the same fashion.

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 13:34 PM
Maybe contact HMLR and obtain an official copy of your L's leasehold title plan- to verify that the cupboard is his.

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 13:35 PM
If it isn't his, then who would it belong to, and in that case what claim would he have to it preventing me from using it?

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 13:37 PM
If it isn't his, then who would it belong to, and in that case what claim would he have to it preventing me from using it?
It could be either:
a. another long-leaseholder's; or
b. the freeholders (= not demised to any long-leaseholder at all).

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 13:40 PM
Apparently there are two tenures associated with my property, one freehold and one leaseholder.

If the storage cupboard doesn't belong to the freehold, then would that not mean the landlord is illegally occupying it irrespective of whether it forms part of the tenancy?

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 13:47 PM
Apparently there are two tenures associated with my property, one freehold and one leaseholder.
Yes. For every leasehold ownership, there must be a superior (freehold) ownership.


If the storage cupboard doesn't belong to the freehold
It must; but we don't yet know whether F owns a freehold reversion or an unencumbered freehold.


then would that not mean the landlord is illegally occupying it irrespective of whether it forms part of the tenancy?
Look- first let's know within which HMLR titles this wretched cupboard is in fact registered. Not 'what if...?'

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 14:10 PM
Okay, I've paid for the title plans, and here are snippets from each.

Freehold:

http://img.skitch.com/20110517-q4x31g5napy1qek46qj83t7myd.jpg

Leasehold:

http://img.skitch.com/20110517-k2why4x5bn9jr3shbkpsbmkf9f.jpg

There's no key in the title plan itself as to what the numbered sections mean, specifically, but I can tell you that on the freehold 3 and 7 represent different parts of the apartment block; 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 are gardens; 1 and 2 are a detached property and its gardens, and an adjoining apartment block plus another property (and gardens) respectively.

In the leasehold diagram 1 and 3 represent the outline of our apartment (although I'm uncertain why there'd be a division between the two — from what I can tell that line is an internal wall within the apartment. 2 and 4 would therefore be one of the gardens at the rear of the property — interesting, as we were told that there was no garden for our property!

The storage cupboards are not within the outline of 1 and 3 (they are on the opposite side of the shared hallway on each level of the apartment block), so it would seem to imply they are not part of the leasehold at all.

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 14:12 PM
One other thing that occurs to me is that the plan shows a gap between the two mirrored set of apartments, but this is actually only present on the ground floor (to allow access to the rear of the building). On the first and second floors the two flats join each other neatly and thus extend further in than the title plan shows. Not sure if that's relevant but if this is the only information indicating the boundaries then it's no wonder there are so many disputes between neighbours concerning building walls etc...

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 14:44 PM
I think that you need your solicitor's advice. Time constraints do not permit me to go into the plans further.

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 14:46 PM
Okay, I think I may seek out Citizens Advice Bureau advice first — I'm not sure as I could necessarily justify the expense of a solicitor here, given that the ultimate result might still be trying to call the landlord's bluff. Thanks for your help so far though!

thevaliant
17-05-2011, 15:21 PM
The storage cupboards are not within the outline of 1 and 3 (they are on the opposite side of the shared hallway on each level of the apartment block), so it would seem to imply they are not part of the leasehold at all.

That would be my guess as well. That being the case, if they aren't demised, then you probably have no right to them (though neither does the landlord). And the garden may be yours to use as you want.....

kapowaz
17-05-2011, 15:29 PM
‘Demised’ in the context of property is a new term to me as of today. Are elements of a property only demised at the point the property is sold (as in a leasehold)? Or can that happen arbitrarily? I'm wondering if, in that case, I could contact the freehold owner directly regarding the cupboards? The freehold belongs to a local housing partnership, so that does seem plausible.

jeffrey
17-05-2011, 16:49 PM
'Demised' just means 'included in the lease' (and often called 'demised premises' in it).