I have a land law exam coming up soon and need help on it I have got the exam scenario beforehand, I just need someone to help me through it
Merlin Kawadza is the daughter of Herbert Kawadza and is the neighbour and a distant relative of a wealthy couple - Jenny and Jack. The couple have two sons, who are highly educated; one works in the IT sector and the other is an acclaimed scientist. The couple developed a deep affection for Merlin and considered her their daughter. The couple ran a small property-letting business, in and around Manchester, with approximately 25 properties in the business.
As the couple grew older, they began to find it increasingly difficult to manage the business. Merlin would therefore help out with customer check-in and check-out, attending to laundry of the beddings, towels and other garments used in the properties, helping with general maintenance, repairs and renovation of the properties. Merlin also handled all the administration of the business for the coupe including updating licences, settling bills, dealing with any claims and complaints and other such like matters.
The business has not been doing so well in the last couple of years particularly as some of the buildings require extensive renovation with newer facilities creating competition in the market.
Merlin helped the couple from 1987 – 1992 and then she fell out with Jenny and left to undertake a diploma in hotel management at the Manchester College. During her time with the couple, although they were soft spoken, Jack used to tell Merlin that when he left the business to her, she could get loans and renovate most of the buildings. Although Merlin was not paid a salary for the work she did in the business, she got to keep the tips from customers, a fully paid vehicle and free accommodation in one of the buildings. The couple also paid Merlin’s tuition fees for her college diploma and other expenses for her.
Merlin completed her diploma in 1996 at the age of 30 and was offered a place at the prestigious Hilton Hotel to undertake a one-year post-diploma placement. The placement is vital in being able to secure a job in hotel management. Prior to starting her placement, she visited her father. During her visit, Jack came to see her and asked whether she could help out with the business particularly as they were getting busy again and he was expecting some funds to carry out renovations.
Jenny decided to forgo her placement and assist Jack and Jenny. When she returned, she lived in a room in one of the buildings and the couple never collected any rent or monies for payment of bills from Merlin. Merlin continued to help run the business until June 2018.
In June 2021 Jenny sadly passed away. Jenny died without a will and all her property passed to Jack under the intestacy rules. This prompted Jack to think about making a will. He discussed this with his sons and decided to write a will leaving all his estate comprising of 25 properties to his sons to be divided equally between them. Merlin is unhappy with this decision and brings a claim against Jack for the houses given to his sons. She thinks Jenny influenced this decision and forced Jack to do this. She feels that she expected nothing less than all 25 properties.
Meanwhile, one of the buildings which the couple owns consists of several self-contained rooms. Jack and Jenny usually permitted couples to occupy these by way of separate licence agreements. They did so believing that it would be easier to evict them that way and it also meant that they could obtain more rent.
One of the occupants was Riaz Ahmed and his wife Razia who occupied two furnished rooms in the building for the past two years at a monthly fee of £150. The rooms have been occupied by the couple exclusively and they keep them locked when they are out.
Jack is now in a position to renovate the building and has asked the couple to leave. The couple have refused to move out as they are unable to find a similar accommodation for the price they are currently paying. This has led to renovation works being put on hold.
Additionally, as part of the property portfolio, Jack owns a commercial building called Chapel House. Congregation Bank entered a qualifying lease of the ground floor of Chapel House in 2010 for a term of 30 years. The lease incorporated a rent renewal clause increasing the rent by 15% every 5 years and to use the premises for office use only. The current rent is now a whopping £300,000 per annum.
Since 2001, there have been extensive development works in and around Manchester with newer and more prestigious buildings being available for rent on the opposite side of the City from where Chapel House is located. The Bank wishes to relocate to the newer part of the City. The lease currently has 20 years left to run on the term and therefore the Bank is looking to assign the lease.
The Bank has found a party interested in taking on an assignment of the lease; a religious body called Stairs to Heaven. This is a recently formed organisation not known to many.
The lease contains the following clause: “The Tenant shall not assign the lease without the Landlord’s consent, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld, but for commercial and other covenanted reasons”.
The Bank has made a written application to Jack for consent to assign the lease. Jack asked the Bank for further details and the same has been provided by Bank within a week. It has been 1 month since the Bank first applied for consent and Jack has written to the Bank advising that he withholds consent to the proposed assignment.