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Ground (b)

Hazel v Akhtar
[2001] EWCA Civ 1883

Facts

Landlord opposed tenants application for a new lease on grounds (a) and (b) of s30; i.e. disrepair and persistent delay in paying rent. These are discretionary grounds. The rent was payable quarterly in advance. The tenant had paid the rent a few days in arrears throughout the whole period of the lease. This practice had been acceptable to the landlord, and there had been no complaint about it, until new agents were appointed in July 1999.

The judge had refused the claim for a new lease, having regard to the whole history of delay in paying rent.

Held on appeal

The judge had got it wrong. The CA did not merely state that the judge had wrongly exercised his discretion but went so far as to hold that the landlord was estopped from insisting upon the strict terms of the lease until clear notice had been given to the tenant. Having regard to both the rent and disrepair issues the CA considered that the decision of the judge was unduly harsh and ordered a new lease.

Comment

The estoppel point is perhaps a bit doubtful. There was no clear representation / reliance / detriment analysis in the judgment and counsel for the tenant had not put the arguement quite as high. In his skeleton argument he argued that the situation was akin to estoppel.

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