Service Charges: Retirement Lease Housing Association Ltd v Schellerup [2020] UKUT 0232 (LC)


When will the accommodation costs of a caretaker or warden be recoverable?

The Upper Tribunal has handed down its judgment in Retirement Lease Housing Association Ltd v Schellerup [2020] UKUT 0232 (LC). This matter concerned two appeals, both dealing with the question of whether landlords who provide sheltered housing to elderly residents could recover an amount of notional rent through the service charge provisions of a lease in respect of the on-site accommodation provided to a resident warden/caretaker.

The appeals both turned on the meaning of the word ‘cost’ within the context of the particular leases in question and whether this should be construed to encompass ‘income foregone’. The Deputy Chamber President, Martin Rodger QC, considered the principles of contractual construction and found that in both appeals the language of the leases did not adequately capture the concept of income foregone. The practical implication of the case is that Landlords should be mindful of using precise wording where broad or general language may not sufficiently support a later claim to recover a particular cost through the service charge.

Isabel Petrie was instructed for the Appellant on the Second Appeal (Fountain Retirement Housing Association Limited v Martin & Ors)

Please see the PDF version of the judgment here.