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SOUTHWARK COUNCIL v. LESSEE’S AT ST SAVOURS ESTATE [2016] UKUT 10 (LC): Cost Recovery of Replacement Doors

In this case Southwark had looked to recover the costs of replacement doors to flats. It tried to say this was necessary as the doors were no longer compliant with fire resistance regulations.
The FTT accepted that where a door had deteriorated so that it was no longer compliant then that was in disrepair and they could replace the same. The FTT was not however satisfied that the Local Authorities evidence demonstrated that all the doors it looked to replace were in such disrepair.  The FTT determined that the authorities surveyor did not have the expertise skill or knowledge to make such assessments. The leaseholders themselves adduced no evidence as to the doors condition. On the evidence before it the FTT determined that only 50% of the cost was recoverable.

The local authority appealed.

Determination

The Upper Tribunal determined that the FTT had identified the correct test and correctly asked if there was evidence that the doors were in disrepair. It was entitled to reject the surveyors evidence and determine there was no evidence that the doors were in disrepair. The fact there was no evidence form the leaseholders was immaterial. As to the amount determined the Upper Tribunal was satisfied that the FTT had again made the determination on the evidence before it.
What this case once again highlights is that it is for landlords and managing agents to be able to satisfy the tribunal that they have the evidence to support their case.  Clearly a full proper survey had not been undertaken and that was what was required in this instance.

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