Tanfield
Nicola Muir

Nicola Muir

Year of call: 1998

Call: +44 (0)20 7421 5300
Email: nicolamuir@tanfieldchambers.co.uk

Overview

Nicola Muir specialises in all aspects of landlord and tenant and real property litigation both residential and commercial.    Nicola has been shortlisted by The Legal 500 as the Real Estate, Environment and Planning Junior of the Year 2019.

Nicola is also recommended by Chambers & Partners 2019 which says "She offers clear, concise and commercially aware advice, and is fantastic to work with". She is listed in the Legal 500 for 2019 as a leading junior in property litigation.  Her entry says "She immediately instills faith and confidence in both solicitors and clients".

Nicola regularly appears in Court and in both the First Tier and Upp er Tribunals of the Property Chamber.   She is well known for her enfranchisement, service charge and land registration claims.  Nicola also has a thriving commercial property practice and has been involved in a number of high profile boundary, adverse possession and beneficial interest disputes.

Nicola is a former solicitor and gives lectures on a variety of land law related topics as well as being a regular contributor to the Estates Gazette.

Expertise

Landlord and Tenant – Residential

Nicola’s residential landlord and tenant work includes:
- Possession and injunction claims for breach of the lease terms including Rent Act related work
- Determination of breach applications in FTT prior to forfeiture
- Service Charge disputes
- Enfranchisement and lease extension work
- Rights of First Refusal

Examples of recent work:

- Service Charge dispute in relation to Brunswick Centre and issue of whether superior landlord needs to consult underlessees.
- Claim for possession where occupier claimed to have succeeded to Rent Act protected tenancy.
- Test case on whether the cost to a Council of replacing analogue TV aerials with digital aerials could be claimed via service charge
- Series of claims in relation to calculation, reasonableness and apportionment of management charges
- Lands Tribunal appeals on premium payable under Leasehold Reform Act 1967 where leases granted over 300 years ago and position on the ground changed in the meantime.
- Appeal on the terms of a leaseback following enfranchisement
- Advising on rights of tenants where landlord failed to serve notices on them pursuant to the Rights of First Refusal provisions in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987

Landlord and Tenant – Commercial

Nicola’s commercial landlord and tenant work includes:
- Forfeiture and dilapidation claims
- business lease renewals
- construction of leases

Examples of recent work
- Acting for landlord in claim for forfeiture for breach of a repairing covenant in a restaurant lease where counterclaim for relief from forfeiture.
- Representing the landlord of a tattoo parlour in Soho on a business lease application.
- Advice on tenants’ service charge liability in respect of maintenance of bridges in a dock development
- Acting for the tenant of a public house in relation to a claim for damages for the alleged breach of a beer tie and a counterclaim for rectification of the lease.

Real Property

Nicola’s real property work includes:
- Boundary disputes
- Easement problems
- Adverse Possession claims
- Land Registration issues
- Rectification of Title claims
- Beneficial Interest disputes
- Conveyancing problems and disputes
- Restrictive Covenant work
- Mortgages

Examples of Recent Work

- A 6 day neighbour dispute involving harassment, rights of way, boundaries, parking easements, malicious falsehood, adverse possession and assault which was widely reported in the national press.
- An adverse possession claim where the original judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeal and a re-trial granted – LB Havering v Chambers.
- A claim for a beneficial interest brought by an aunt against her nephew where the aunt claimed that the registered title holder was not her nephew but another man of the same name – see Jayasinghe v Liyanage Chancery [2010] EWHC 265 (Ch) [2010] PLSCS 53

- Claim for alteration of the register or indemnity following sale of land to innocent third party by fraudster masquerading as client.

Social Housing

Nicola undertakes work on behalf of local authorities, registered social landlords and tenants covering both advocacy and advisory work.  Her work includes:
- possession claims
- anti-social behaviour related work
- acting for local authorities and social landlords in service charge disputes including claims brought as test cases
- enfranchisement claims against local authorities and RSLs and advising on inter-relation with Right to Buy legislation
- claims against long leaesholders for unlawful alterations

Examples of recent cases
- advising RSLs on implementation of the Housing Corporation’s policy that leases should contain covenants which allow refinancing for the purpose of carrying our repairs to the property but not for the purpose of purchasing a new car or a holiday
- advising on the occupational status of tenants of live/work units
- appeal to Lands Tribunal on inter-relation between leaseback provisions on enfranchisement and Council’s liability to limit services charges where secure tenant exercises right to buy – see Westminster City Council v CH2006 Ltd [2009] UKUT 174 (LC)
- test cases on behalf of a number of local authorities on recovery of actual cost of management of an estate via long leaseholders’ service charge- see, for example, South Tyneside Council v Ciarlo [2012] UKUT 247 (LC)

Commercial

Nicola is a specialist in property and landlord and tenant law.  Inevitably many commercial disputes involve land and Nicola undertakes commercial litigation with a property aspect.  Her work includes:
-  professional negligence claims;
- construction of agreements in relation to land;
- forfeiture and dilapidations claims;
- property related insolvency work.

Examples of Recent Work

-  Arbitration proceedings in relation to the construction of a Joint Venture Agreement made for the purposes of disposing of a site intended for the development of a Tesco’s Superstore.
- Claim against solicitors where plot on the title deeds was not the same as the plot on the ground.
- Claim against solicitors for failing to act with proper speed in relation to the grant of a commercial lease and related sale and leaseback where proposed lessee was killed in an air crash prior to completion of the lease.
- Drafting proceedings in claim against a mining consultant who failed to identify the existence of a disused mine beneath development land.

 

Notable Cases

Corvan (Properties) Ltd v Abdel-Mahmoud [2018] EWCA Civ 1102

Qualfying Long Term Agreements - whether the agreement was for a term of more than twelve months.

Corvan (Properties) Ltd v Abdel-Mahmoud [2017] UKUT 228 (LC)

 Leaseholders of Foundling Court and other v Camden LBC, Allied London (Brunswick) Ltd and others [2016] UKUT 366 (LC) 

Service Charges -  whether superior landlord is required to consult only its own tenant or its undertenants as well

T Hilling & Co. Ltd [2016] UKUT 0600 (LC)

Extent of the jurisdiction of the FTT on consideration of an objection to fair rent registered by rent officer under Schedule 11 of the Rent Act 1977 and sufficiency of reasons

Tibber v Buckley [2015] EWCA Civ 1294

Enfranchisement, Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, terms of leaseback

Tibber v Buckley and Wilcox [2014] UKUT 0074 (LC)

Enfranchisement, Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, terms of leaseback.

Jastrzembski v Westminster City Council [2013] UKUT 0284 (LC).

Service Charges.  Consultation and Dispensation

Triplerose Ltd v Bishun and Others [2013] UKUT 0257 (LC)

Service Charges

South Tyneside Council v Ciarlo Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), [2012] UKUT 247 (LC) 

Service Charge. Management Charges. Payability. Reasonableness. Apportionment.

Re: Clarke, Re Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), [2012] UKUT 226 (LC)

Enfranchisement.  Leasehold Reform Act 1967.  Premium.  Easements.

Chambers v Havering LBC Court of Appeal (Civil Division), [2011] EWCA Civ 1576; [2012] 1 P. & C.R. 17; [2012] 1 P. & C.R. DG15


Adverse Possession. Fences. Motive Extent of Use and Occupation required.

Jayasinghe v Liyanage Chancery Division, [2010] EWHC 265 (Ch); [2010] 1 W.L.R. 2106; [2010] 1 E.G.L.R. 61; [2010] 16 E.G. 108

Beneficial Interests.  Extent of Jurisdiction of  Adjudicator to HM Land Registry. 

Hyde Housing Association Ltd v Lane Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), [2009] UKUT 180 (LC)

Service Charges.  Estimated future expenditure.

Westminster City Council v CH2006 Ltd Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber),
[2009] UKUT 174 (LC)

Leasehold Enfranchisement.  Whether price “agreed”.  Whether LVT had jurisdiction to determine price.

Watson, Re Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber),[2009] UKUT 130 (LC)

Enfranchisement. Leasehold Reform Act 1967.  Premium. Only part of house on leasehold land.

Green v Westleigh Properties Ltd Queen's Bench Division, [2008] EWHC 1474 (QB); [2008] N.P.C. 77

Right of First Refusal.  Landlord and Tenant Act 1987. Validity of notices.

Howtone v Hoather Chancery Division, [2005] EWHC 3526 (Ch)

Cohabitee property rights.  Extent of beneficial interests.

Recommendations

"She offers clear, concise and commercially aware advice, and is fantastic to work with" - Chambers & Partners 2018

"A great team player" - Legal 500 2017

"...very good on service charges, and landlord and tenant work" - Chambers & Partners 2017

"Often advises on land registration, service charge and enfranchisement cases. Her practice spans both the commercial and residential areas of landlord and tenant disputes"- Chambers UK 2016

"She presents her case before judges very well, and is bright and commercial in her advice" - Legal 500 2016

"A very down-to-earth and practical barrister"
"Her knowledge of leasehold enfranchisement and general leasehold matters is very strong" Chambers & Partners UK 2015

"Recommended for her expertise in residential and commercial litigation" Legal 500 2015

 

Publications

Nicola is a contributor to “Service Charges and Management” by Tanfield Chambers, 3rd Edition and the forthcoming 4th Edition  

Nicola also has a regular column in Estates Gazette - "Residential View".  Her recent published articles include:

"Valuation under Evaluation: Proposals for Reform - the Law Commissions options for reforming the valuation of residential lease extensions" - Estates Gazette, 16th October 2018

"A not so short assured shorthold tenancy" - Estates Gazette, 11th October 2018

"The Cost of Putting Safety First" - the fallout of the fire at Grenfell Tower, Estates Gazette, 26th September 2018

"Clarity on the law regarding service charges" - recent cases on consultation.  Estates Gazette, 19th June 2018

"What does the future hold for resi?" - Estates Gazette, 5th January 2018

"Take advice or count the cost - Does a TR1 form which is unexecuted by the purchasers create an express declaration of trust?" - Estates Gazette, 14th October 2017

"Fixing the broken housing market - Will the current proposals on leasehold reform ever come to fruition?" - Estates Gazette, 2 September 2017

"An unsatisfactory situation - Before undertaking works, residential landlords must consult their tenants and their tenants . . ."  - Estates Gazette, 17th June 2017

"Bang! bang! goes the neighbourhood - How far do private law rights go in protecting residents from noisy building works? - Estates Gazette, 11th February 2017

"Airbnb - a wonderful idea or not? - Landlords have legal tools at their disposal to prevent their properties being used as a hotel" - Estates Gazette, 22nd October 2016

"Benefits and Burdents - Restrictive Covenants and building schemes drafted with pride can prejudice development - Estates Gazette, 15th August 2016

 "Beware of Residential Rights - How Mixed-Use Developers can design Buildings to avoid certain residential rights arising" - Estates Gazette, 28th May 2016

"Radical thinking on enfranchisement" - Estates Gazette, 21st November 2015

"Residential Service Charges - How Long Have you Got to Challenge Them?" - L & T Rev (2015) Issue 6.

"Who decides when fair's fair?" in relation to the apportionment of service charges - Estate's Gazette, 3rd October 2015

"One building or more - Can a right to manage company acquire the right to manage more than one building? - Solicitors Journal, May 2015

"Sit Up and Take Notice - The Importance of complying with statutory requirements when issuing notices" - Estates Gazette 2nd May 2015

"Farewell to an auld leasing structure - Could modernisation of Scottish property law have any application in England and Wales? - Estates Gazette 7th February 2015

 

Qualifications

LLb (Honours) from the University of Edinburgh

CPE from Chester College of Law

Qualified as a Solicitor

Called to the Bar in 1998

Memberships

Property Bar Association (member of PBA committee)

Chancery Bar Association

Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP)

Member of Estates Gazette Legal Advisory Board