Tenants have succeeded in their bid to take over management of the blocks of flats where they live after the Court of Appeal ruled that the structures are ‘undoubtedly self-contained’ and that car parking spaces, communal gardens and other facilities shared with other residents of the estate are ‘appurtenant’ to them.
In a case of ‘general importance’ to leaseholders who wish to exercise their right to manage and their landlords, the court gave a wide interpretation to the phrase ‘appurtenant property’ contained within section 72(1)(a) of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 despite acknowledging that the prospect of landlords and tenant-owned management companies having ‘dual responsibility’ for the management of common parts was ‘not a happy one’ and could cause conflict.
The blocks of flats are part of an estate on the outskirts of Swindon which includes other residential properties the occupants of which had not joined in the application to manage the property. It was argued by the landlords that it was desirable for the estate to be managed as a whole and that it would not be in residents’ interests for responsibility for the estate’s common parts and shared services to be shared with a right to manage (RTM) company established by the tenants.
However, Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Patten, said that there was no requirement in the act for relevant self-contained buildings to be capable of functioning independently without the need to make use of shared facilities like access roads, car parking and gardens.
He concluded: ‘In my judgment, the wording of section 72(1)(a) is clear: there is no requirement the appurtenant property should appertain exclusively to the self-contained building which is the subject of the claim to acquire the right to manage.’