Is there a need to establish disrepair from the tribunal to appoint a manager under Section 24 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987?

Karen Bright, Partner at Bishop & Sewell looks at a recent case:

In the case of James Henry Stuart and William Edward Stuart-v- Hervines Court Management Company Limited, (CAM/11UC/LAM/2018/0004) the Applicants were seeking an appointment of a manager by the Tribunal due to concerns they had about the management of the property.

The tribunal found, in an inspection carried out prior to the hearing, that “the Property presents well” and “was in perfectly reasonable order”. The only negative points from the tribunal were in regard to the internal common parts looking slightly tired with evidence of cracking and damp on the first floor landings, the carpets being old and tired and generally it needed a bit of a revamp. It even went on to say that the property was in “pretty good order” and the issues raised by the Applicants and the condition of the building “were really quite minor and could be addressed without too much difficulty”.

So, in the absence of there being disrepair and the property being in “pretty good order”, most people would think that a tribunal would not appoint a manager. So where did the Respondent go wrong?

The Tribunal states in its decision that this case hinges on whether or not an appointment would be just and equitable (Section 24(b)). The arrangements at the property had been that there was a managing agent appointed, however, the Property Manager, Mr Baker had retired at the end of 2018. Mr Baker gave evidence that he was instructed by the Respondent Landlord during his tenure that it was not necessary for him to assist with anything other than paperwork. The tribunal also recorded that Mr Baker was not familiar with the RICS code and the director who oversaw the management also had no real knowledge of the RICS code or of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It appears that the lack of a new property manager having been appointed and the lack of knowledge of the relevant legislation and code by the director who oversaw the management of the building, were enough to concern the tribunal. It found “without managing agents this Property becomes something of a rudderless ship”. It also stated that it is not possible in this day and age to run a development of this nature in such a way.

The Tribunal concluded that extra control was needed and to avoid further problems, the property management needed to be put on a more professional basis going forward and it would therefore be just as convenient to appoint a manager.

Karen Bright is a Partner and Head of Litigation & Disputes at Bishop & Sewell.

If you need assistance appointing a property manager or help with regard to a property dispute, please contact our expert Litigation & Dispute Resolution team on or call 020 7631 4141.

Reviewed: July 2019