Appeal Court considers whether external doors are landlords' fixtures

The Court of Appeal has clarified whether external doors are landlords’ fixtures and so subject to landlord control.

The case involved a tenant who was the registered proprietor of two long-leasehold flats with terms of 999 years. The leases included a covenant by the tenant at cl.3(4) not to "remove any of the landlord’s fixtures" without first having made a written application to the landlord and obtained consent.

In 2014 the tenant replaced the entrance doors to both of his flats. He did not seek or receive the landlord's consent to do so.

The First-tier Tribunal held that the doors were "landlord’s fixtures" and that the tenant had acted in breach of the covenant by replacing them. However, the Upper Tribunal reversed that decision, concluding that the doors were part of the land demised to the tenant and he had therefore not acted in breach of the covenant.

The case went all the way to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the Upper Tribunal’s decision.

It held that the entrance doors were part of the original structure of the flats. Moreover, they were an essential part of the structure since they afforded privacy and security to the tenants.

While the doors were affixed to the door frames by hinges after the walls were built, that was immaterial. No one would say that the construction of a flat was complete if the entrance door had not yet been hung.

The relevant part of cl.3(4) was the promise not "to remove any of the landlord’s fixtures". Its purpose was limited to preventing the removal of landlord's fixtures without the landlord's consent.

While the landlord might wish to have control over the replacement of external doors, that part of cl.3(4) was not apt for that purpose once it was concluded that an external door was part of the demised property, and not a fixture.

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