- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 06 Apr 2017
The London Borough of Hounslow v Waaler
In a 2017 ruling that will be required reading for landlords and tenants, the Court of Appeal has given authoritative guidance on the distinction between ‘repairs’ and ‘optional improvements’. The decision means that tenants’ views will in future be far more influential when it comes to paying for the costs of the latter.
The case of The London Borough of Hounslow v Waaler (2017) concerned a 1960s-built housing estate with 850 residents, many of whom had bought long leases on their homes under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme.
The local authority that owned the freehold had commissioned an £8.3 million refurbishment of the estate and one of the tenants had received a service charge demand exceeding £55,000, representing her contribution to that cost.
After she challenged the demand, the Upper Tribunal (UT) ruled that replacement of windows and cladding were improvements, rather than repairs, and that only part of the sums claimed by the council for those works was recoverable from tenants.
Although the lease conferred a right on the council to make improvements, the UT found that it should have taken particular account of tenants’ views on the proposed works and the financial impact upon them of proceeding.
In dismissing the council’s challenge to that decision, the Court noted that, under the lease, the council was bound to make repairs, but that spending on improvements was discretionary. It made sense that, when it came to improvements, the council was obliged to take greater account of tenants’ opinions and any financial hardship that they might suffer.
The Court noted that tenants of a luxury block of flats in Central London might find it easier to cope with bills exceeding £50,000 than those living on a former council estate in a relatively deprived area.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Which room is the most fun to design? Find out the 'Grand Designs' presenter's unusual choice in our interview.
Full suite of speakers are announced for this year's BSRIA Briefing event.
Book your place for the Architectural Technology Awards 2018.
There are many ways of classifying types of building. Have a look at our range of building articles.
BSRIA have launched the 'major update' of the go-to design framework guide for building services.
How to get results with building life cycle assessment.
Government publishes a prospectus inviting proposals for new 'garden communities'.
The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa collapses during rainstorm while undergoing maintenance works.
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.
RIBA calls for a comprehensive ban on combustible materials.