Property Disputes - Questions and Answers - Winter 2017

I am involved with court proceedings and the trial is due to take place next week. I have recently come across a number of documents that are relevant to the claim, but they are damaging to my case. Do I really have to disclose these documents to the other side? It seems illogical to have to harm my own case in this way. 
The Court Rules provide that a party’s duty to disclose relevant documents is an ongoing duty and the rules specifically state that if relevant documents come to a party’s attention at any time during the proceedings, he must immediately notify every other party. In your case, therefore, notwithstanding the damaging nature of these documents, you are required to disclose them to the other side. Completely counterintuitive but necessary.

My residential property has been the subject of a number of break-ins recently. I am mightily fed up with the situation and I am therefore planning to tighten up the security around my property. My plan is to glue some broken glass to the top of the fence that surrounds my rear garden and to install some high voltage electrified wire at the front of the property which I will only turn on at night. As far as I am concerned, I am allowed to do what I like when it comes to securing my property and keeping intruders out. Is that right?
The answer to your question is “no”. The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 imposes a duty on occupiers such as yourself to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of visitors to the occupier’s property. As absurd as it may sound, this duty extends not only to people who you have invited on to your property, but also to trespassers who have made their way on to your property without your permission. You have a specific duty to ensure that a trespasser does not suffer an injury by reason of any danger caused by the state of the property. In your case, if the trespasser ended up being injured on the glass or the electrified wire, you would be liable to that trespasser. You therefore need to consider other security measures that do not pose such a serious risk to the physical safety of the trespasser. 
I am the owner of a freehold residential block which is let to an institutional social housing provider. That housing provider has granted individual sub- tenancies of the various flats within the block. No part of the block is occupied by the housing provider; the block is occupied by the sub-tenants alone. I have been told that social provider might have some protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Is that correct?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 applies to business tenancies and provides tenants with security of tenure, that is to say the right to renew their lease at the end of their term. In your case, the tenant is operating a business and could therefore have protection under the 1954 Act because the tenancy is associated with a business purpose (the business of providing social housing). However, the 1954 Act will not apply if the tenant does not physically occupy the premises (or a part of the premises). In your case it seems that no part of the premises is occupied by the housing provider. If the block is occupied solely by the sub-tenants, the 1954 Act will not apply and the housing provider will not have security of tenure. Just check very carefully that the housing provider does not have, for example, a care taker or housing manager in occupation of the block. If that is the case, that limited occupation may suffice to bring the tenancy within the Act.

This article features in the Hughes Paddison Winter 2017 Property Disputes Update. You can view a summary of the full content of the newsletter and download a copy here.