David Whitney: Recovering Insurance Premiums
In a case before the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) Denise Green v. 180 Archway Road Management Company Limited  UKUT 245 (LC) an issue arose as to whether or not insurance premiums were recoverable. Solicitor David Whitney of Landlord and Tenant specialist law firm Painsmith Solicitors emphasises the importance of both parties to the lease complying fully with it’s terms.
In brief the facts were that LVT at first instance found that the insurance premiums for the disputed years were recoverable. The Leaseholder appealed contending that the lease required the Landlord to insure in the joint names of the Landlord and the Leaseholder and only if it did this were the sums payable, due to the wording of the lease.
In previous years the Leaseholders name had been noted but in later years there was no mention of Mrs Green’s name although other Leaseholders interests were noted.
The Upper Tribunal determined that the question to be answered was not whether insurance had been placed upon which the Leaseholder could rely but whether the Landlord had complied with the lease terms. The lease terms required the building to be insured in the joint names of the Landlord and the Leaseholder and if this was done the leaseholder should pay a one-quarter share of the cost. The policies in dispute did not note the Leaseholders name although there was a general interest clause affording some protection to the Leaseholder.
It appears that the Landlord tried to argue that it had not been possible to note the name and address on later certificates. HHJ Huskinson did not accept this, pointing out that clearly in the past the Landlord had complied with the strict lease interpretation. It is noteworthy that other persons interests had been noted.
In making his decision the Judge accepted that the Leaseholder was fully covered under the policy in place. However he concluded that for the years when her name was not specifically noted on the policy there was no liability for the insurance due to the failure to comply with the strict lease terms.
Note: It’s worth highlighting that apparently neither side was represented nor was any expert evidence adduced.
The decision is interesting as the style of wording in this instance lease is not unusual. It is clear that if expert evidence was given the Judge may have come to a different decision but clearly as with all aspects of leasehold law it is important to remember that this is a contract and both parties are expected to comply fully with the terms in addition to any statutory protections which exist and no doubt a salutary lesson for the landlords in this case.
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