Is a block of flats a house? The Court of Appeal decides

The word "house" is one of the 200 most frequently used words in the English language, yet there are eight Court of Appeal authorities on its meaning for the purposes of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.

If a building can be said to be a "house reasonably so called" a leaseholder may be able to acquire the freehold of their lease, provided the other conditions prescribed by the 1967 Act are satisfied.

In Magnohard Ltd v Cadogan and another the Court of Appeal backed a ruling that a purpose-built mansion block is a block of flats, and not a house for the purposes of the 1967 Act. The building comprised eight self-contained flats and three lock-up shops: it had been constructed, laid out and used as a block of substantial self-contained flats throughout its 120 years of existence, and could not be said to be both a block of flats and a house. The building's commercial element further supported the Court of Appeal's finding. The Supreme Court will hear the cases of Hosebay Ltd v Day and Lexgorge V Howard de Walden shortly, which will no doubt give further guidance on what may be a "house reasonably so called."

by Amy Rogers, Associate