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Morayo Fagborun Bennett
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"She is calm, well prepared and fights her cases with determination and skill."

Chambers UK

"Excellent in every respect; one of the housing Bar’s most consistent performers."

Legal 500

Morayo is a specialist landlord and tenant and real property barrister.

Her strong residential L&T practice derives from her background in social housing, local government and public law. Therefore, she is uniquely placed to handle complicated issues arising in mixed use property developments, whether involving the residential, commercial or social housing units.

A graduate in philosophy and theology from St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Morayo is a recommended Social Housing junior in the latest edition of Chambers UK and Legal 500. She is the author of Chapter 9 “Hoarders and Nuisance neighbours” in the online Lexis Nexis book Social Housing Law in Practice, a Consulting Editorial Board Member for Public Law and Local Government with Lexis PSL and a member of the Metropolitan Police legal services panel.

Cases of interest include Charalambous v Ng [2014] EWCA Civ 1604 (tenancy deposit schemes), Coope v Ward [2015] EWCA Civ 30 (easement of support and measured duty of care) and Farah v Hillingdon LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 359 (homelessness).

During the Coronavirus pandemic Morayo has provided useful updates and analysis for landlord and tenant and social housing practitioners, which is available here.

Morayo was appointed as a Deputy District Judge on the Northern Eastern Circuit in 2020.

Commercial Landlord & Tenant

Morayo advocates and provides advice in a wide variety of commercial L&T claims and cases involving mixed-use developments and buildings. Recent cases have concerned break clauses, dilapidations, disputed 1954 Act renewals, breach of covenant and forfeiture.

Related work:

  • Sara Hossein Asset Holding Ltd v Blacks Outdoor Retail Limited [2019] EWHC 3414 (Ch) successfully resisted an application for summary money judgement of the whole of the claim and counterclaim in a claim for rent, insurance rent and service charges of £413,695.
      • Where a lease contained a tenant’s covenant “to pay the yearly rent reserved by this lease … and not to exercise or seek to exercise any right or claim to withhold rent or any right or claim to legal or equitable set off or counterclaim (save as required by law)”, it was held that (i) the reference to yearly rent was limited to the rent and did not include services charges or any other sums payable, but (ii) the remainder of the clause did not apply only to that rent and prohibited a set off against payments due in respect of service charge.
      • Where a lease provided that the landlord was to furnish to the tenant a certificate as to the amount of the total cost of the services and the sum payable by the tenant, such certificate to be conclusive in the absence of manifest or mathematical error or fraud, it was held that, as a matter of construction, the certificate was intended to be conclusive on routine accounting matters, but not on the question of whether particular works fell within the landlord’s repairing obligations, including both works alleged by their nature not to have been within those covenants and works alleged to have been unnecessary.
  • Morayo acted for Mr Patel the leaseholder of a mixed use building after he sub-let the residential parts of the building in breach of his lease. He brought a claim for wrongful forfeiture, damages and relief from forfeiture following his landlord’s physical re-entry into the commercial part of the mixed-use property and offer of new tenancy agreements to the sub-tenants who occupied the residential part of the property.
  • Tovagliari v Katz: Representing appellant in Court of Appeal permission proceedings following rectification of a commercial lease which was contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and rendered the notice to renew invalid.
  • Gjoka v Hassa: Acting for landlord in forfeiture proceedings following the tenant’s denial of his title
  • Osman v Omunua (Queens Bench Division) Representing the second Defendant in contempt of court proceedings when a direct debit to the Claimant’s mortgage company was cancelled in contravention of an injunction order. Application dismissed due to defects in the Claimant’s application to commit. Obtained an order for costs against the Claimant.
  • True Pearl Limited v Khudeir: Duties of an involuntary bailee following the forfeit by the leaseholder of her non-residential lease.
  • Julian Litvinoff: Renewal of business tenancies concerned with issues under s37(1C)(a) and (b)(ii) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, compensation to the tenant by the landlord where the latter has served a section 25 objecting to the notice for the grant of a new lease on ground 30(1)(f).
  • Nanda v Muhith and Rahman: Representing a landlord in dealing with the effect and damages flowing from a tenant unilaterally vacating the premises prior to expiry of the lease due to the recession.
  • Havering v Gabriel: Concerning the interim and market rent under Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 for a laundrette in a parade of shops with restrictive covenants.

Housing (Social & Privately Rented)

Morayo is a “very diligent, thorough and impressive” recommended junior in social housing matters with significant experience in disrepair, statutory nuisance, unlawful eviction, possession proceedings for matters including rent arrears, trespass, subletting, succession, only or principal home, nuisance and anti-social behaviour. She has extensive experience of with Equality Act, public law and human rights challenges and with acting in anti-social behaviour injunctions and committals, in both the county and youth courts.

In the Magistrates’ court, Morayo has considerable experience handling statutory nuisance, HMO licence and EPA 1990, council tax and business rates proceedings dealing with liability orders, applications to set aside such orders and appealing abatement notices.

Related work:

  • Carrera v MetropolitanMorayo’s success resulted in the tenant’s particulars of claim being struck out in a disrepair claim and led to the issue of whether the case should then be allocated to the small claims track based on the value of the repair works of the remaining proposed amended particulars, using either in-house contractor costs or the National Housing Federation standard rates.
  • Poplar Harca v Newby, Thomas and Toure3 day youth court injunction, exclusion orders and committal matter following a violent assault at a DLR station.
  • Peabody Trust v Nezhadthe housing association was found not to be vicariously liable for the actions of a fraudulent employee who granted an intermediate market rent tenancy to ineligible people by presenting false information as to their circumstances to Peabody Trust. Morayo also persuaded the court that the sum of £4,000, if paid to the employee, was not a tenancy deposit within the meaning of section 212 Housing Act 2004 and was more in the nature of a bribe or payment to secure the letting.
  • Bennett v L&Q – disrepair counterclaim acting for a vulnerable social housing tenant who continued to suffer distress and inconvenience even after she was placed in alternative accommodation for 3 years. Rent arrears arose because both the benefits and landlord continued to send correspondence to the property despite knowledge that she had been decanted from there.
  • LB Sutton v Aslettoutright possession was justified on the basis of the homophobic abuse suffered by the upstairs neighbours and was proportionate under the Equality Act 2010, even without the most serious charge (of arson).
  • Hardaker v Adactus Housing Group3 day disrepair and personal injury trial in which the court accepted that the claim for £25,000 was exaggerated and that the claimant’s failure to mitigate her loss by not providing access meant that she was only entitled to damages for the pre-issue period, as the repairs could have been completed before then.
  • A2 Dominion v Cocks – 2 day claim for possession on grounds of rent arrears and that the Defendant failed to occupy the property as her only or principal home.
  • Centrepoint Soho v Mehdaoui – considered the question of whether the Defendants occupied under a licence or tenancy of supported housing provided for homeless young people and consisted of 19 self-contained bedsits let on ASTs and 30 shared bed-spaces that benefitted from communal cooking and washing facilities.
  • De Giovine v Family Mosaic Housing – disrepair, personal injury, breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, rent overcharge and breach of health and safety case following a withdrawal of an offer to sell the property as an alternative to undertaking extensive repairs and structural works.
  • Network Stadium v Raphael – claim for possession of the property on ground 7A of the Housing Act 1988 following a closure order. Court considered but rejected the disability discrimination defences raised under the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act.
  • Samuels v Cooper and Porto – claim concerned with the statutory compensation under s.214 of the Housing Act 2004 for the Defendant’s failure to correctly deal with the rent deposit. The Claimant had entered into a series of fixed term tenancy agreements and Morayo argued successfully that the limitation period was not a bar to recovery of compensation and that each failure to protect the deposit within 30 days of the start of each of the fixed term tenancy agreements was a separate breach entitling the Claimant to compensation.
  • Charalambous and Karali v Ng and Ng[2014] EWCA Civ 1604: A landlord was precluded from serving a notice seeking possession under the Housing Act 1988 s21 where the tenant’s deposit had not been paid into an authorised scheme as required by the Housing Act 2004 s213, notwithstanding the fact that when the deposit was originally paid, there had been no obligation to pay it into an authorised scheme.
  • De Santos v Hill-Jones: Morayo represented the landlord in unlawful eviction proceedings in which the former tenant sought substantial damages following 7 months of being street homeless. The period of compensation was limited to 8 weeks and no award for special, aggravated or exemplary damages was made.
  • East Homes v Shah: Successfully obtained outright possession order in multi-day possession case against tenant subletting part of the property (basement and garden shed).
  • Singh v Sanctuary Housing: A large family was moved to inadequate temporary accommodation for 7 months and there was outstanding disrepair upon their return to the property.
  • Farah v Hillingdon LBC [2014] EWCA Civ 359: In conducting a review of an applicant’s eligibility for accommodation under the Housing Act 1996 s.202, a reviewing officer had failed to give reasons for accepting the correctness of a housing officer’s conclusion that the applicant’s accommodation had been affordable and that she had become homeless intentionally by failing to pay her rent when it fell due. The review decision was set aside and remitted for reconsideration by another housing officer.
  • Supple v FMH and Oakwood: A disrepair claim concerning recently built design and build accommodation. The tenant brought a disrepair claim against FMH, who had in turn brought a Part 20 claim for an indemnity and/or contribution against the property developers concerning the construction of the roof within the warranty period.
  • LB Greenwich v Johnson: Successfully obtained an outright possession order for a local authority on grounds 1 and 3 of Sch 2 of HA 85 in a hoarding case in which the tenant refused to accept any assistance from the local authority to clear and repair the deteriorating property.
  • Poplar Harca v Philips: injunction against a pirate radio station DJ preventing him from entering blocks of flats owned by the housing association or installing his equipment within the building or within Tower Hamlets.
  • Francis v FMH: Successfully represented a housing association in a three day hearing to determine whether the Claimant was entitled to an order for specific performance and damages for breach of a Tomlin Order following settlement of the disrepair case.
  • SOHA v Over: The court considered whether a requirement that a potential successor “lived with” with the tenant “during the 12 months” before her death meant throughout the 12 months or merely during the course of 12 months. The court held that “lived with during” was ambiguous.
  • FMH v Streatfield v Canavan: Whether a tenancy agreement granted by a body which could grant secure tenancy prior to 15th Jan 1989, remained a secure tenancy if the granting body changed its name or amalgamated.

Leasehold & Leasehold Management

Morayo is regularly instructed in residential service charge disputes for both landlords and leaseholders. She also gives advice and acts in cases concerned with commercial and residential leaseholder management issues.

She handles a wide variety of claims including service charge recovery claims, forfeiture proceedings in residential and commercial properties, disputes concerning major works, breaches of repair, nuisance and sub-letting covenants, cases requiring strategic advice on the recoverability of legal costs, mixed-use developments and estate rent charges disputes.

Morayo provides seminars and workshops on service charges in mixed used development, forfeiture and legal costs.

Related work:

  • The Lesses of Flats 1-13 17 Marine Parade, Whistable v Whitstable Homes Limited and Marine Maintenance Limited CHI/29UC/LSC/2019/0082– determination under s.27 L&TA 1985 as to the payability and reasonableness of services charges levied prior to the enfranchisement of the freehold of the flats. FTT considered what was required to amount to certification within the terms of the lease. It also held that the former freeholder was only entitled to recover the repairs and maintenance costs accepted by the lessess as it had failed to demonstrate that the charges from their sub-contractors were reasonably incurred or of a reasonable amount.
  • Waterfront Apartments (Tankerton) Limited v Whitstable Homes LimitedMorayo acted for the nominee purchaser in a collective enfranchisement case concerning the terms of acquisition. She also acted for the 13 leaseholders in the connected service charge dispute.
  • QLTA which was required to be dealt with under a public notice: Advising a housing association landlord on whether they were required to further consult their leaseholders pursuant to section 20 LTA 1985 following the revision of one of their Qualifying Long Term Agreements and on dispensation
  • Estate rent charges: Represented Gallions Housing Associationin a series of Rentcharges Act 1977 cases concerning the payability of estate charges by freeholders on the Thamesmead Estate.
  • London Borough of Camden Home Ownership Services v Olaniyan and Oshibote: Assisted leaseholder in defending service charge claim by recovering substantial damages in his disrepair counterclaim against freeholders following Right to Buy scheme.
  • Riverside Heights Management Company v Moffatt, CAM/33UG/LSC/2013/0093: Acting for landlord to recover service charges, administrative charges and costs. County court proceedings were transferred to the FTT for determination of the reasonableness of the service and administrative charges. Matter transferred to county court for enforcement and determination of contractual costs.
  • Poplar Harca v Altman, LON/00BG/ 2009/0072: Decision of the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal on an application under s168(4) of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002. Management company found to be in breach of a lease it had sublet to the local authority’s Homeless Persons Unit (“HPU”) as a result of noise nuisance caused by HPU’s non-secure tenant.

Real Property & Mortgages

Morayo’s practice includes property development, boundary disputes, adverse possession, measured duty of care, easements, land registration, restrictive covenants, mortgages and other charges including estate charges, neighbour and party wall disputes. Morayo is also a regular contributor to the Lexis PSL Property Q&A.

Related work:

  • Provided strategic advice to a Parish Council on the regulatory framework to ensure it complied with the statutory requirements for receiving a gift of property for the benefit of the community.
  • Coope v Ward [2015] EWCA Civ 30: The trial judge had found that an easement of support had been extinguished as a result of excessive use and that the retaining wall collapsed as a result of the overloading of the higher land over the years. Concerned whether there was a measured duty of care between adjoining landlords in respect of a retaining wall following its collapse and the extent of such a duty. Court of Appeal found that such a duty could exist but that it did not extend to requiring the Coopes to contribute to the cost of some unspecified engineering solution in relation to the wall
  • Deadman v Singh: Mrs Deadman purchased a property for £77k in 2001 and in November 2009, she sold the unencumbered property for £20k apparently to discharge unsecured debts of around £7,500. She subsequently brought a claim to set aside the sale on grounds of unconscionable bargain and fraudulent misrepresentation. Singh argued that any special disadvantage that Mrs Deadman was under was mitigated by having independent legal advice from conveyancing solicitors. HHJ Simpkiss decided both claims in Mrs Deadman’s favour.
  • Braithwaite v Robin F Clark & Co Solicitors & Jerome John and Wayne Hyde: Concerned vendor’s lien and unilateral notice in a professional negligence claim involving jointly instructed conveyance solicitors and breach of contract claim against buyer after failure to pay purchase price.
  • Mortgage Express v Kennedy: Possession proceedings concerned with whether the wife fraudulently secured loans on the property which was in her vulnerable husband’s sole name.
  • Gadhavi v Bassi: Injunction and damages claim concerning party wall, boundaries and trespass following the erection of an extension between neighbouring properties.

Directory recommendations

Morayo is recommended by both Chambers UK and Legal 500 for Social Housing. The directories note:

  • “She has a mild exterior with a steely interior.” “Very diligent, thorough and impressive.” (Chambers UK)
  • “Has developed into a tremendous social housing barrister. She really gets the sector. Judges, clients and opponents all respect her. One who could go all the way.” (Legal 500)
  • “A vivacious barrister who takes on big cases with great skill”. (Chambers UK)
  • “Excellent in every respect; one of the housing Bar’s most consistent performers” (Legal 500)
  • “Solicitors like her and she genuinely knows her stuff” (Chambers UK)
  • “Very conscientious and collaborative to work with” (Legal 500)
  • She’s excellent – incredibly thorough” (Chambers UK)

Judicial Appointments

Deputy District Judge
Part-time Chair of the Valuation Tribunal for England

Professional associations

  • London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association
  • Property Bar Association
  • British Nigeria Law Forum
  • BAME in Property
  • Housing Law Practitioners Association (HLPA)
  • Social Housing Law Association (SHLA)
  • Constitutional & Administrative Law Bar Association

Qualifications

  • BVC (Outstanding)
  • CPE (Commendation)
  • MA (Westminster) Crime, Human Rights and the International Community (Distinction)
  • MA (Oxon) Philosophy and Theology
  • Buchanan Prize 2004
  • IDS Brief Prize for Employment Law 2004
  • Sibel Dedezade Pro Bono Award 2004
  • Hardwicke Scholar 2003
  • Lord Bowen Scholar 2002
  • ADR ODR Accredited Mediator

Publications

  • Social Housing Law in Practice, Lexis Nexis

CSR

  • Member of Chambers’ CSR and EDI committees
  • FRU and Advocate
  • Pupil supervisor
  • Speaker at pupillage talks for BPTC students and involved in increasing participation of BAME and other underrepresented groups in the legal profession
  • Tough Mudder (half) for charity
  • Foundation member of the BNLF Women’s Network
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