Flat Tenants - Taking Over Management Can Be a Legal Minefield

Most leaseholders would like to obtain the right to manage their own premises. However, as one tribunal case shows, there are many potential pitfalls, so seeking professional legal advice is always a wise precaution.

The four qualifying tenants of a block of flats had set up a 'right to manage' (RTM) company with a view to exercising their right to take over the block's management under the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. Their attempt to do so was, however, determinedly resisted by their landlord.

As all four tenants were members of the company, there was no need for them to be formally invited to participate in the process. However, the Act required that the company serve each of them personally with a copy of the claim notice. The landlord argued that that had not been done and that the failure to follow the procedures laid down by the Act to the letter had undermined the entire process.

Those arguments were, however, rejected by the First-tier Tribunal on the basis that the tenants had all been served with the claim notice by email. In dismissing the landlord's challenge to that ruling, the Upper Tribunal found that email was a valid method of service. Even had that not been the case, service by email had caused no prejudice to the landlord and would not have automatically invalidated all subsequent steps in the process.