In the most serious of cases, it is generally possible for a landlord to end a long lease if the flat owner has breached the terms of the lease. Ending a lease in this way is called “forfeiture”.
Forfeiture is the ultimate sanction for a landlord. It means the landlord can obtain possession of the flat, sell it and keep the proceeds of sale (after paying off any pre-existing mortgage(s)). If there is equity in the property, the landlord will therefore receive a significant windfall. This would be a disaster for a flat owner if this were to happen. They would lose everything.
The law surrounding this area is complex. Stringent conditions must be satisfied and procedures followed before a court will consider forfeiting a lease in this way. For example, in most cases a formal notice (called a section 146 notice) must be served. Giving the flat owner the opportunity to remedy the breach of the lease. The notice has to be carefully drafted. Even before this notice can be served, certain other steps must be taken. For example, a landlord may be seeking to forfeit a lease based on service charges arrears. Before serving a section 146 notice, the landlord must first obtain a determination from the Court or Tribunal that the service charges are payable.
If you are a landlord and are considering forfeiture, then it is important you seek advice from a Property Law Solicitor at an early stage. Find out more on your rights, as forfeiture can also be unintentionally and easily lost. Hart Reade can help guide you through and deal with the procedure you have to follow.
If you are a flat owner and forfeiture action is threatened or is being taken against you, you should seek urgent advice as you stand to lose your flat. We can advise you on whether your landlord has complied with the many conditions necessary to bring forfeiture proceedings. It may also be possible for you to apply to court for “relief from forfeiture” i.e. to be allowed to stay in your flat.
We have a dedicated team of solicitors, who specialise in all aspects of forfeiture proceedings and who can provide you with sound and experienced advice.
For information on ending short tenancies (e.g. Assured Shorthold Tenancies) please click here.
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