Dogmatism or Good Flat Management?

07 February 2018

Author: Donia Reynolds
Practice Area: Real Estate

Vinnie

The High Court in the recent decision of Victory Place Management Company Limited v Kuehn & Anor [2018] EWHC 132 (Ch) held that a management company was entitled to refuse permission for the owners of a flat to keep a dog on the premises.

Facts

Mr and Mrs Kuehn were the owners of a flat in a gated development in London. The flat was maintained by a management company, Victory Place Management Company Limited. Mr and Mrs Kuehn held the flat under a long lease which contained a covenant prohibiting flat owners from keeping pets without the written consent of the management company. The Kuehns had been made aware of this restriction prior to moving in to the flat.

Mr & Mrs Kuehn requested formal consent from the management company to keep their dog, a young Yorkshire/Maltese terrier named Vinnie, in the flat. The management company initially refused its consent but later informed Mr & Mrs Kuehn that it would consider special circumstances, such as the requirement of a guide dog, upon receipt of satisfactory evidence. Mr & Mrs Kuehn did not provide any such evidence.

Mr & Mrs Kuehn moved into the flat with their dog and the management company obtained an injunction to have the dog removed.

Decision

On appeal to the High Court, the key issue was whether the management company had acted reasonably when considering Mr & Mrs Kuehn’s request for consent. The High Court held that the management company’s strict “no pets” policy was not unreasonable or irrational. The management company had adopted a fair process in taking into account the policy preferred by the majority of the flat tenants which was to not allow any pets on the premises. The court held that whilst this was “a legitimate predisposition towards a particular point of view”, the management company would have taken into account medical evidence had it been provided.

Implications

Long leases often contain covenants the interpretation of which are open to the discretion of the management company. The court held that in this case the management company’s interpretation of the covenant was subject to a reasonableness test and that the management company had satisfied this test. This sets an important precedent for management companies going forward when interpreting tenant’s covenants in long leases.

If you would like any further information or advice, please do not hesitate to contact Donia Reynolds or one of the other members of the residential conveyancing team.

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