Mohammed Iqbal v Rupa Thakrar (2004)


The defendant landlord had not unreasonably withheld consent to the proposed alterations to be carried out by the claimant tenant since the landlord had had insufficient material to ascertain whether the proposed works would have affected the structure of the building as a whole.


The defendant landlords (L) appealed a decision that they had unreasonably withheld consent for the claimant tenants (T) to make alterations to premises held under a long lease. T were the leasehold owners of ground floor premises (the premises) in a building of which L had held the freehold and also the leasehold of the upper floors. The premises comprised shop premises. The lease contained a tenant's covenant not to make any structural alterations to the premises without the approval of L. The works sought to have been carried out by T were to turn the shop premises into an Indian restaurant for which the local council had granted permission. However, L refused to grant consent to the proposed alterations on the grounds, inter alia, that they had concerns about the structural integrity of the works on the building, and that a proposal to install a doorway to the front of the building amounted to works to the external front of the building and accordingly fell outside the demised premises. T sought, and were granted, a declaration that L had withheld consent to the works unreasonably and that accordingly the works were permitted to go ahead in accordance with the plans submitted. L submitted that the Recorder's decision had been wrong in that L had not unreasonably withheld consent.


(1) The plans submitted to L in support of T's application seeking consent for the proposed works had been insufficient since they had failed to address whether certain walls had actually been load bearing walls and had merely left the decision of what would have occurred if they had been load bearing to the builder on site during the works. The Recorder dismissed the evidence of an expert which had been to the effect that the proposed alterations could have given rise to structural problems. The Recorder was wrong to have found that L had unreasonably refused consent on that ground when they had held no knowledge from the submitted plans as to what would have happened if the walls sought to have been altered would have been load bearing. (2) L had not been unreasonable in refusing consent to the proposal to install a doorway to the front of the building since the demised premises had merely included the facia of the shop and had not included the exterior wall to the building itself. Accordingly, the proposed doorway would have trespassed upon the landlords' premises. (3) In those circumstances the Recorder had been wrong to find that L had unreasonably withheld consent for the proposed works.

Appeal allowed.