In Beaufort Park Residents Management Ltd v Sabahipour [2011] UKUT 436 (LC), the Upper Tribunal reversed the earlier decision of the LVT that a tenant was not in breach of his lease by refusing to allow the landlord’s company secretary and director access to inspect a leak, due a personal conflict between them.

The LVT held that the landlord could not insist upon access by any one person specifically and, as the tenant was willing in principle to allow access, he was not in breach by denying access.

The Upper Tribunal, in allowing the appeal and reversing the LVT’s decision in part, turned to the relevant covenant in the lease.

The Tribunal held that, provided the person seeking access fell within the scope of persons permitted by the lease and that they were seeking access for the purposes of examining the state and condition of the property, the tenant had to allow access for that purpose. The Tribunal went on to find that the tenant could not dictate who carried out the inspection and a failure to allow access to such persons amounted to a breach of covenant.

Landlord’s with difficult tenants should find solace in the Upper Tribunal’s decision! It is also a useful reminder that the starting point for any landlord and tenant dispute is with the terms of the lease.