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A recent Supreme Court judgement found that a landlord had breached its obligation to the other flat tenants to enforce the tenant covenants of the flat leases by giving its consent to alterations which were prohibited by the leases.

Certain leases, such as those contained in a block of flats or multi-let buildings, contain obligations on the landlord to enforce the tenant covenants of each lease in the building.

In the recent case of Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd, the tenant’s lease prevented the tenant from cutting into any roofs, walls or service media. The tenant intended to carry out works to her flat, which included removing a load bearing wall. The landlord gave its consent to the works and another tenant issued proceedings against the landlord on the grounds that the landlord was not authorised to permit the works.

The Supreme Court unanimously found that the landlord’s obligation to enforce the lease covenants resulted in the landlord being unable to waive an absolute prohibition in the lease without the agreement of the other tenants.

In taking steps to authorise an action which would otherwise result in a breach, the landlord was prevented from complying with an enforcement request from the other tenants and would deprive the flat tenants a right of action against the breach.

The result of this case offers further protection to tenants of multi-let buildings who have the benefit of enforcement action against other tenants. Landlords should avoid doing anything which may put them in contravention of an obligation to enforce the tenant covenants of a lease.

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