High Court Decision on the Relief from Forfeiture - Kuits Solicitors Manchester
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High Court Decision on the Relief from Forfeiture

High Court Decision on the Relief from Forfeiture

14th October 2020 - Published by Kuits litigation team

In this article, senior associate Rebecca Jones reviews the recent High Court Decision from the Keshwala and another v Bhalsod and another [2020] EWHC 2372 (QB) case.

What are the facts in this case?

In this case, the defendant landlord effected forfeiture by re-entry after rent arrears became due as the result of an accidental shortfall of £500 in the previous rent quarter payment. The landlord had not brought this shortfall to the tenants’ attention and failed to raise it in the subsequent rent invoice. Following re-entry, as soon as the tenants became aware of the debt, they paid it off in full. Nevertheless, five months later, the landlord re-let the property to a third party, following which the tenants issued a claim for relief from forfeiture.

Decision

On appeal, the High Court held that the application for relief made within the six month statutory limit should be considered as being made with “reasonable promptitude”. Furthermore, the delay in this case, being less than six months, did not constitute an “exceptional circumstance” so as to justify the court’s refusal to grant relief from forfeiture; thus the Judge at first instance had erred in judgment.

What is the implication for tenants?

The decision provides reassurance to tenants who do not make an immediate application for relief of forfeiture as long as it is made within the six month period. However, it remains best practice to seek relief as soon as possible.

What is the implication for landlords?

Following this decision, Landlord’s may wish either to wait at least six months before re-letting after effecting peaceable re-entry to best avoid the potential risk of an application for relief being made and subsequently granted or may choose to effect forfeiture by proceedings. Alternatively, in recognition of the fact Landlords will not want empty units, Landlords may wish to seek assurances from former Tenants as to their intention prior to re-letting.

Get in touch with a specialist property litigation lawyers in Manchester

If you would like advice on anything mentioned above, please contact senior associate Rebecca Jones on 0161 838 7807 or email rebeccajones@kuits.com.

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