Flat owner has £600,000 London home SEIZED by freeholder

Flat owner who had new kitchen and bathroom fitted has £600,000 London home SEIZED by freeholder because he failed to tell her about redecorating

  • Charles McCadden has been left ‘feeling suicidal’ after home was confiscated
  • Freeholder Afshan Malik seized property when Mr McCadden breached lease
  • Mr McCadden, who has chronic illness, says legal battle has left him ‘anxious’ 
  • Have you had your property seized? Email sophie.law@mailonline.co.uk

Charles McCadden (pictured) has been locked in a legal battle after his freehold property owner seized his £600,00 flat

A leaseholder has been left with nothing after his £600,00 flat was seized in a ‘redecorating’ dispute.

Charles McCadden bought the flat the upper floor of a Victorian terrace on Burrows Road in Kensal Green, Brent, northwest London with inheritance money. 

But due to a forfeiture law, that allows freeholder to take ownership of a property if there is a breach in the lease, Mr McCadden was removed from his home. 

Mr McCadden has been left feeling suicidal and has called for a change in the law.

He told The Times: ‘The whole episode has made me feel very anxious, stressed out and at times suicidal. I am living a nightmare.’ 

Afshan Malik, a medical researcher at King’s college London, lives downstairs to his flat and owns the freehold to the property. 

Mr McCadden’s flat on Burrows Road, London (pictured)  was seized after he had breached terms of the lease 

Mr McCadden, who suffers from chronic illness, had redecorated his home (pictured) shortly after moving in

Mr McCadden, who suffers from chronic illness, had redecorated his home shortly after moving in but had not consulted Dr Malik, a requirement of the lease.

Dr Malik took Mr McCadden to the first tier-tribunal for breach of covenant and refusal to pay maintenance costs.

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The tribunal visited his home and could not gain access but were satisfied that a new bathroom, kitchen and central heating had been installed.

Judge Robert Latham had noticed holes in the external walls and that the freeholder’s radiators, floorboards and a toilet had been removed.

Afshan Malik, a medical researcher from Kings College London, is the freeholder of Mr McCadden’s flat and seized his property and transferred it into her name after a breach in the lease

The court ruled the breaches to be serious and ordered Mr McCadden to pay Dr Malik £216.62 in outstanding charges and to reimburse her for the £300 tribunal fee.

Mr McCadden refused to pay the costs, so Dr Malik took him to Willesden county court, which last month issued a forfeiture and possession order to transfer the lease into her name.

How you could lose your home 

A lease is a contract and therefore if a leaseholder breaches the terms, the landlord could take legal action against them. 

In order to gain possession of the property by forfeiting the lease it is necessary to obtain a court order. 

A freeholder must give the leaseholder valid notice of the breach under section 146 of the law.

The leaseholder must agree that breach has occurred or it will be taken to the first-tier property tribunal or a court which will determine the amounts due. 

A section 146 cannot be served for debts under £350 or less than three years.

A leaseholder can apply to court to seek relief from forfeiture. This means having the forfeiture set aside and the lease restored.

The court can grant or refuse relief, which is more likely to be in favour of the leaseholder if they react swiftly, pay any arrears, remedy any breaches of covenant and pay the landlord’s costs.

Source: Lease Advice 

But Mr McCadden says he was not told about the tribunal because he was living in Scotland looking after his seriously ill father.  

He also insists the changes he made to the property were small and he disputed the service charge.

The law states that a leaseholder can apply to seek relief in order to have the forfeiture set aside and the lease restored.  

But Mr McCadden said he has been unable to defend the forfeiture and possession orders after being let down by lawyers.

The court can grant or refuse relief, which is more likely to happen if the leaseholder reacts swiftly and pays any costs. 

But Mr McCadden has been left without his flat after the property was transferred into Dr Malik’s name.

Sebastian O’Kelly, from the charity Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, told The Times: ‘Mr McCadden has been found to be an inconsiderate neighbour.

‘But the loss of £600,00 asset is out of proportion to the dispute…They key question is: what if it had been the other way round and the freeholder had been inconsiderate?’

In 2006 the Law Commission recommended the removal of forfeiture but the government did not follow through.  

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