Today, on 1 December 2020 the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Pimlett v Curo Places Limited [2020] EWCA Civ 1621 where prior judgments in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (UT) were overturned.

The case involved the landlord, Curo Places Limited (Curo), successfully arguing that the UT had wrongly interpreted the meaning of clauses in a tenancy agreement concerning the introduction of a garden maintenance service.

Mr Pimlett is a tenant of sheltered housing set in landscape gardens. When Mr Pimlett rented the property Curo’s predecessor did not levy a service charge for maintaining those grounds; nor did the tenancy agreement contain any obligation to do so. The tenancy agreement contained a list of services (grounds maintenance was not listed) and a clause which contained a process by which, following consultation, Curo could stop, amend or introduce “extra services if it believes this would be useful”.

Curo had consulted its tenants about introducing a garden maintenance service and consequent charge and then served a notice of variation thereby putting itself under an obligation to provide that service and the tenants under an obligation to pay for it. Mr Pimlett unsuccessfully argued that Curo could not use introduce the service because it was not an extra service (and could not, therefore, be “useful”). 

In summary, the court decided the natural and ordinary meaning of the words “extra services” referred to services in addition to those services listed in the tenancy agreement and did not operate to exclude services being provided gratuitously.

Curo was represented by Chris Baker of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square instructed by Anthony Collins Solicitors partners Helen Tucker and Jonathan Cox.