Background

Property Litigation

70th Anniversary

Our Dispute Resolution team deal with an extensive range of property disputes, representing clients in their personal capacity, large corporations, limited companies and partnerships. We aim to resolve matters in the most efficient and proactive way and where possible and suitable avoid the need for litigation.

Our experienced team can advise on many areas of contentious property for commercial and residential clients, including:

  • Restrictive covenants;
  • Lease renewals;
  • Trust Of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act claims;
  • Dilapidation and disrepair claims;
  • Possession claims, both residential and commercial;
  • Boundary and right of way disputes;
  • Building and construction disputes;
  • Relief from forfeiture claims;
  • Access to Neighbouring Land Act claims;
  • Party Wall Claims;
  • Commercial Rent arrears recovery; and
  • Agricultural disputes.

We understand that whether a client is pursuing a claim or defending a claim made against them, this can be a lengthy and costly process to embark on. Our primary goal is to deliver a practical and beneficial service to support our clients in the best way possible for their individual circumstance. We plan cases strategically to help our clients’ achieve their objectives.

The team has developed a niche practice liaising with members of our other property teams to utilise their expert knowledge to enhance their advice and help clients whilst advising on matters of contentious property issues.

Renters (Reform) Bill

The much anticipated Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament in May 2023 and overhauls current housing law for landlords and tenants, with the aim of giving tenants greater security in their tenancies and improving the standards of accommodation and providing landlords with a route to recover possession of their home when they have good reason to do so. We will be watching the Bill’s passage through Parliament and keeping you updated on the developments. For more information on the Bill and how it affects you as a landlord or tenant, please visit the Renters (Reform) Bill.

FAQs

All tenancies which would be assured tenancies or assured shorthold tenancies will become periodic tenancies, with a rent period not exceeding one month. Landlords will no longer be able to offer a fixed term tenancy.

At present landlords are able to serve a s21 notice giving a tenant two months’ notice to vacate the property and no fault by the tenant needs to be proven. The Bill abolishes this procedure so that any landlord wishing to evict a tenant must prove one of the grounds under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 instead. Tenants however, will be able to move out upon giving 2 months’ notice to the landlord.

New grounds are going to be introduced such as when a landlord wants to sell the property or have close family members move in. There will also be a ground for persistent rent arrears to stop tenants paying off the arrears just before the possession hearing, together with provisions to make it easier to evict anti-social tenants.

Landlords will no longer be able to use rent review provisions under the tenancy agreement but will have to follow the s13 statutory procedure allowing rent increases only once a year to market prices, with an increased 2 month notice period. Tenants will have the ability to challenge the rent through the First Tier Property Tribunal if they believe it to be excessive..

Every tenant now has the right to request to keep a pet, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. Landlords will be allowed to require pet insurance to cover any damage to the property.

The government plans to introduce a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman which landlords ‘may’ have to join. The Ombudsman should provide a fair and binding resolution to many landlord and tenant issues in a way that is less costly, quicker and less adversarial than the current court system.

The intention is to create a new Privately Rented Property Portal to help landlords understand their legal obligations and demonstrate compliance and for tenants to better understand the law and their rights. All landlords would be required to register so that tenants will have information about a landlord before agreeing to enter into a new tenancy.

Written statement setting out basic information about the tenancy and the parties’ responsibilities, while maintaining the ability to adapt and agree these terms with the new tenant.

 

Restrictive covenants

Our team of litigators are known for their niche specialist work in advising clients on matters of restrictive covenants, in respect of both residential and commercial property; acting for people with the benefit and the burden of such covenants. We aim to resolve disputes without the need to involve the courts, but, where a client’s matter requires it, we are experienced in taking matters to the Property Tribunal, high court or county court, if necessary.

Lease renewals

Regularly, our team are involved with lease renewal actions for both landlords and tenants. When required, we will serve Section 25 and 26 Notices, engage in correspondence following that and, if necessary, issue court proceedings to protect the client’s interests. Similarly, when circumstances are appropriate, we will serve counter notices with a view to ending a tenancy under one of the grounds set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA)

TOLATA gives courts specific powers to resolve disputes between joint property owners over property. The court can make a declaration as to the parties’ property rights according to established principles of trust law and can order a sale of the property where it is in the parties interests.

TOLATA claims can be issued in the following circumstances:

  • to force the sale of land or property;
  • to reoccupy a former family home when an ex-partner refuses to leave;
  • when parents or grandparents want to recover their financial interest in the property;
  • An accounting for disproportionate mortgage payments and occupation rent; or
  • to determine the equitable share each party owns in the property.

We regularly advise clients in relation to TOLATA claims whether they occupy the property and wish to remain or whether they are a joint owner and wish to sell. This includes reference to the courts for resolution of matters where an agreement before proceedings cannot be reached.

Dilapidation and disrepair claims

We advise commercial and residential landlords on dilapidation and disrepair claims of commercial and residential premises when a tenant has left a property in a poor state. We can also advise clients where a residential landlord may have a disrepair issue on a property that they rent out and which they have failed to properly maintain.

Possession claims

Whether you are a commercial or residential landlord, tactical advice at an early stage is essential when you are looking to recover possession of a property. In residential matters, the implementation of the remaining parts of the Deregulation Act 2015 means landlords must be on their toes when serving a Section 21 Notice. In commercial matters, clients wishing to forfeit a lease must be careful not to waive their right to forfeit.

Boundary and rights of way disputes

The team provide clear advice to clients with issues regarding boundaries or rights of way. Clients may think they have a right of way over a particular piece of land as they have used it as such for a number of years and we help to understand whether that is the case or not. Alternatively, a client may have a deed granting a right of way but that right is being interfered with and we can advise on the options available to protect their rights.

Building and construction disputes

We act on a range of issues over building work from the construction of entire buildings to extensions or smaller projects; advising builders on their responsibilities to their clients and, similarly the clients on their obligations to the builder. We will always try and resolve matters early on in correspondence or with other forms of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) but if this does not solve the problem efficiently,  we will issue court proceedings.

Relief from forfeiture claims

We assist both landlord and tenants in court with claims against them for relief from forfeiture if their lease has been forfeited. We act for the tenant to apply for relief and on behalf of landlords who are facing court action by their tenants.

Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 claims

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 (the Act) gives neighbours the right to enter onto their neighbour’s land to undertake certain works permitted under the Act. We can advise in relation to any request made, or any request that a client wishes to make. Where necessary and appropriate we can assist with any application to the court for an order to allow access, or assist with the defence of any application received.

Party Wall Claims

When a party wants to build/extend or develop their property and there is a party wall with a neighbour then there is a process that should be followed to ensure that the effected property is protected. A party wall agreement should be entered into. We can advise and assist with the process whether you are undertaking the works or whether you are in receipt of a notice. Our solicitors are experienced in assisting in these matters and also pursuing claims if any damage has been caused.

Agricultural Disputes

We advise clients in agricultural disputes, disputes arising out of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986.

How we work

Our specialist team of litigators aim to settle claims early to ensure, where possible, that a swift and acceptable resolution is achieved. Depending on the circumstances of a case, we use our experience, negotiation and mediation skills to achieve this.

We encourage the use of negotiation and mediation and are practised in alternative dispute resolution. However, when presenting the claim at court is unavoidable, the team are experienced in providing clear instructions and strategic advice.

However, we understand that there are times when a resolution cannot be established early and court proceedings are necessary. We are dedicated to managing our litigation cases as effectively as possible to ensure a successful outcome for claimants in matters of property litigation at trial.

Contact us

To discuss a property dispute/issue please contact our Dispute Resolution Team on 01733 882800 or email us via [email protected].

Property Litigation Lawyers

Helen Townsend LLB (Hons)

Partner - Team Leader Dispute Resolution

Testimonials

"They are extremely dedicated and will go above and beyond for their clients. I was impressed with Helen Townsend’s attention to detail particularly."


"Partner in charge of property services, Helen Townsend, very helpful and knowledgeable And willing to help on all matters with regard to a particularly difficult tenant and negligent property management company."


"Expertise on property law particularly with regard to private lettings which is not generally available in many provincial practices. Excellent and prompt service delivery."


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Key contact

Helen Townsend LLB (Hons)

Partner - Team Leader Dispute Resolution

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90th Anniversary
Legal 500 Leading Firm Hunt & Coombs received Investors in the Environment Green accreditation again

Hunt & Coombs LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales, Registration no. OC320243, VAT no. 120013160. Hunt & Coombs LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority with Registration no. 443035. A list of members is available at 35 Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6AG.
© Hunt & Coombs Solicitors 2023.

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