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The risks of informal email dialogue when applying for landlord consent

The Upper Tribunal (UT) recently considered whether a residential tenant had agreed to pay the amount charged by the landlord for granting retrospective consent to alterations to his flat.

A tenant can ask the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) to determine the amount of any administration charge claimed by a landlord or managing agent, unless the tenant has agreed or admitted the amount.  Payment of the charge does not automatically equate to an agreement or admission.

In this case, the tenant sought retrospective consent for alterations the tenant had made to his flat.  The tenant objected to the amount that the landlord indicated it would claim by way of administration charge for granting consent. However, the tenant later sent an email saying “that’s fine” in the context of the proposed charges and made payment.

On appeal from the FTT, the UT decided that the words “that’s fine” constituted an agreement in respect of the charges.  As a consequence, the FTT had no jurisdiction to determine the amount of the administration charge.

Mark Steggles, Partner in the Dispute Resolution Team, commented as follows: “the case highlights the risks of making throwaway comments in emails and the impact these comments can have on future claims.   This decision concerned administration charges, but could equally have applied to service charges and this is a risk – particularly for those unfamiliar with the workings of the FTT”.

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