Once a house, always a house
The UK Supreme Court decisions in Hosebay v Day and Lexgorge v Howard de Walden are a welcome clarification of the law, says Caroline DeLaney (pictured), partner and head of Real Estate Disputes at Kingsley Napley LLP…
What amounts to a “house” has been a question keeping the courts busy for a number of years and many court cases have been held up awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling.
When the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 came into force, the meaning of “house” was never a contentious issue because of the requirement to live in the property. When the residency requirement was abolished in 2002, however, it opened the doors for the more astute commercial leaseholders to seek to buy the freeholds of converted properties that although once houses, no longer had any residential use. This was not the intention of the legislation at all. The Supreme Court has overruled the Court of Appeal’s decision of 2010 and confirmed that it is the property’s current use as a house, not its former use that is the determining factor.
This decision will no doubt be met by a collective sigh of relief from the country’s large estate owners.
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