Windmill Flats Development Triggers Tenancy Dispute

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Homes come in all shapes and sizes and, in one unusual case, a suspected error made when drawing up plans of a windmill after it was converted into flats became a source of conflict between a tenant and his landlord more than 20 years later.

The tenant occupied the top four stories of the windmill under a 999-year lease which was signed in 1993. A corridor, which measured about three metres square, was the only means of access to his spare bedroom. However, it did not appear to be included as part of his property in plans attached to his lease.

The tenant applied to alter his title to the property so as to include the corridor on the basis that it had been omitted in error. Alternatively, it was submitted that he had acquired the corridor by adverse possession, more commonly known as squatters’ rights, having been in uninterrupted occupation of the same for more than 10 years. His application was, however, resisted by the freeholder.

Ruling in the tenant’s favour, the First-tier Tribunal noted that the conversion of the windmill into habitable space had been a complex task. The spare bedroom had always been part of the tenant’s property and it would have made little sense to leave out the sole means of access to it. The corridor had never been part of a communal area and the tenant’s belief that a mistake had been made was a reasonable one.

(Griffin v Crown Mill)