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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Background ----------- I own a ground floor flat on a long

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I own a ground floor flat on a long lease and share of freehold.

The building is in a U shape where the backs of the flats face each other. Each flat has front and rear access and the rear access leads on this U shaped communal area. This space is made up of some grass and shrubs, sheds, communal bins and concrete paths between rear entrances of the flats. Each group of 6 flats have its own entrance.

At the front of the building is a lawn which is more manicured with formal planting and signs saying "Keep off the grass".

I have 2 children aged 4 years and 18 months. There are other children of a similar age in the block.

During the day, my partner opens the back door and lets our children play with their friends. This involves them going between each other's homes, cycling their bikes around the shed block, sitting around a kid size table doing drawing, etc.


There has been a complaint from one of the residents in the block saying that children are not allowed to play in the communal space.

We have received a letter from the Board saying that playing in this space is prohibited although I can't see any reference to this in the lease.

There is a mention that we are to "Avoid walking on the lawns in the front of the blocks and take heed of the 'keep off the grass' signs". However, there are no such signs at the rear.

Of course, they could erect such signs at the rear and it would be quite difficult for us to police that as parents of such young children.


Is it fair, reasonable and legally enforceable to prevent us letting our children roam in and out of our back door, run from each others homes (possibly crossing the grass in the process) and generally riding their bikes, pushing their prams, etc?

Thank you

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What is the exact wording in the lease?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


I have a scanned copy of the Regulations of the Estate.


In the lease, there's a Schedule 5 which covers the "Regulations to be observed by the Lessee". The schedule is included in the Regulations of the Estate document. There's also a mention in the lease that the Regulations can be updated as and when which is in essence this document.


I can scan in the complete Lease tomorrow if required.


I can't see an option to upload a document to you so I'll try the "attach image button". If that doesn't work, please let me know how I should send the attachment to you.


Thanks and regards



Attachment: 2014-04-14_135358_hhge_regs_apr2011.pdf

There is quite clearly a prohibition at 2 of A on children playing on the front lawns or estate access and service roads.

I don't need the full lease but it would help if I had the exact wording of the reference to the regulations as it appears in the lease.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


Yes, there is clear reference to the front lawns, the estate access and service roads and to adhering to the "keep off grass" signs.


There is no reference to the rear area (and also there are presently no "keep off grass" signs at the rear). Of course, they could erect them and they could also issue an updated Regulations document to restrict this area.


The reference to the Regulations in the Lease is as below.








The Lessor may at any time or times during the Term hereby granted in the interest of good estate management impose such regulations of general application regarding the Estate as it may in its absolute discretion think fit in addition to or in place of the regulations at present in force (which are set out in the Fifth Schedule hereto) (but so that any such regulations shall not conflict with the terms of this Lease) and the Lessor shall have power in its absolute discretion to revoke amend or add to such regulations or any additions thereto or substitutions therefor and of which notice is given to the Lessee.

The wording of the clause in the lease says “… as it may in its absolute discretion think fit in addition….” And also “… and the Lessor shall have power in its absolute discretion to the remainder or add to such regulations…”

Unfortunately that means that any new rules they put in do not have to be reasonable.

As you say, whilst the current rule would not appear to apply to the rear, there is nothing to stop them putting a new rule in.

It begs the question as to what they are going to do about it even if they do put a new ruling because their remedy would be to issue a notice of forfeiture on the lease for breach of covenant however the court is most unlikely to award forfeiture in their favour (foreclose on your lease) because foreclosing on your lease whereby you would lose the lease, is totally disproportionate to the breach of having children using the communal space.

My suggestion would be to write back to the board thanking them for their letter and telling them that you have studied the lease in detail and cannot see the prohibition they refer to. Invite them to let you have a copy of the clause that they think applies here.

As you quite rightly say, it is very difficult to police movement of people around the area and particularly of young children so although this may be a breach of the covenant in the lease if they amend the regulations, I cannot see that they have a remedy although they could actually apply to court for an injunction to prevent you allowing the children to play in the area I am not altogether certain court would see the application in a positive light and even if they got the order preventing the children doing that, I think they could end up paying the legal costs themselves.

There is another potential issue which is completely separate from the covenant not to use that area and that is whether this constitutes nuisance or not. If children are creating nuisance by kicking footballs and riding bikes around which causes inconvenience to other leaseholders they are likely to be able to get an injunction and costs.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Many thanks Jo


Just one point of clarification with regards XXXXX XXXXX constitutes a nuisance. The elderly person complaining appears to regard any sight of children a nuisance (and I understand your point about riding bikes), bearing in mind that my 2 girls are 4 years and 18 months, what would be regarded as reasonable e.g. is skipping acceptable, playing with their dolls, etc?


Thank you


Continual screaming from children can become nuisance if people object to that noise.

I'm not saying that the children should be deathly quiet but if it is all day every day as with barking dogs it can be nuisance

Riding a bicycle around and around can become nuisance if it affects over people to the extent where they cannot freely walk around. It is not nuisance in itself

Kicking a football around can become nuisance in exactly the same circumstances as riding a bicycle.

The examples that you use such as skipping, playing with dolls and generally playing I cannot see how anyone could ever say were a nuisance