Today the Supreme Court handed down its much anticipated decision in Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd.

Whilst ultimately the landlord was unsuccessful on this final appeal, the question the Court had to decide was whether a landlord of a block of flats could, without breach of covenant, grant a licence to a lessee to carry out work which would breach an absolute covenant contained in a lease of her flat, where the leases of other flats on similar terms require the landlord to enforce covenants at the request of a lessee of one of those other flats?

As noted above, strictly a landlord is not permitted to grant such a licence but there are some interesting parts of the judgment (which can be found here and paragraphs 58 and 59 seem particularly noteworthy.

Whilst each lease will have to be construed on its precise wording, and all cases will be considered on a case by case basis, the Supreme Court differentiated between "routine repairs, alterations and renovations", which would be permitted even if they cut through a wall, for example, and works that are "more fundamental and go beyond routine alterations and improvements and are intrinsically such that they may be damaging to or destructive of the building." The latter works not being permitted.

Maybe further arguments will now prevail as to what constitutes routine repair and alterations?! Watch this space...