On 12th January 2022, the Supreme Court handed down their judgment in FirstPort Property Services Ltd (Appellant) v Settlers Court RTM Company Ltd and others (Respondents).

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of the appellants and allowed the appeal. It was held that RTM companies do not attain management rights over the wider estate, and thereby overturned Gala Unity

At Property Management Legal Services, we were privileged to have been instructed by the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) to represent the organisation in its role as Intervener.  Our CEO, Cassandra Zanelli, has extensive experience in residential leasehold law. As Intervener, ARMA hoped to help resolve a complex leasehold management issue, and Cassandra has assisted in the collation and presentation of evidence to the Supreme Court on ARMA’s behalf.

The case revolved around the question of whether the leaseholders at Settlers Court, who acquired the right to manage one of ten blocks on their East London estate, were obliged to pay service charges to FirstPort.  As the named manager in the leases, FirstPort provides services on the estate, including maintenance of the communal areas, for which it is entitled to levy an estate service charge.

A previous case, Gala Unity Ltd v Ariadne Road RTM Co Ltd [2012] established the prospect of dual responsibility for the upkeep of estates. It determined that the right to manage extends to all ‘appurtenant property’ enjoyed by a particular self-contained building, or part of a building, included in the RTM company. This case challenges that decision. It is of particular significance to ARMA, which represents the interests of property management companies in England and Wales.

Commenting on ARMA’s decision to instruct Cassandra Zanelli, CEO Nigel Glen said: “The outcome of this case has a potentially far-reaching impact on our members and the industry as a whole. Therefore ARMA’s role as Intervener sought to highlight the disparate issues faced by managing agents, leaseholders and RTM companies across the sector as opposed to a single site issue with regard not only to the practical management issues raised by the decision in Gala Unity, but also the precarious nature of and potential risk to the financial stability of RTM companies, and the context and designation of ‘appurtenant property’ as used in the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.

“Cassandra Zanelli ‘s reputation within the leasehold management sector is impeccable, making her and her team an obvious fit to assist with our submission as an intervener and gather the supporting examples from our members to present effectively our views and position.”

Read our blog on the decision and its impact on the property management industry here: