Property: Tenants set for a court battle over insurance

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SINCLAIR Gardens Investments will be familiar to readers of this page as the landlord criticised by several leaseholders for its charges for repairs and redecoration. Last week, a group of 821 leaseholders had the latest in a series of preliminary hearings against the same landlord over their insurance bills.

The leaseholders claim that since Sinclair Gardens took over as landlord, their insurance policies have become more expensive and less favourable. In some cases the price has gone up by 120 per cent and the cover has been reduced.

The insurance cover is provided by Commercial Union through Princess Insurance Agencies, the trading name of Cullenglow Ltd. Cullenglow's directors are Peter and Anne Cutler, sole owners of Sinclair Gardens Investments.

When other Sinclair Gardens tenants, unconnected with this case, have applied to buy their freeholds, they have been told they will have to reimburse the landlord for loss of insurance commission.

Under the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act tenants can challenge their landlord's insurance on grounds of price or cover. Here, they are challenging both. The case will be heard in the Mayor's and City of London county court on 24 October.

THIS summer sees 'For Sale' boards going up on some properties more accustomed to bearing 'No Vacancies' notices: several country bed- and-breakfast places are on the market.

The Old Rectory in the Cotswold village of Willersey has won plaudits from almost all the main tourist organisations, as well as a red emblem from Michelin. It was launched as a bed and breakfast 12 years ago by John and Helen Jones, after Mr Jones was made redundant at the age of 55.

The 300-year-old rectory was almost derelict when Mr and Mrs Jones bought it. They turned it into a business, with six bedroom suites in the main house and two more in a converted coach- house. Its last accounts showed a healthy 40 per cent profit.

Now the couple are ready to retire and the Old Rectory is being sold by Hamptons in Broadway (0386 852205) for pounds 430,000, including the goodwill of the business, the furniture and fittings.

Linndhu House on the Isle of Mull has a similar history. An old dower house, it is set in 35 acres of garden and woodland with a trout stream and has good views across the Sound of Mull to mountains on the mainland. The house has four bedroom suites, two further bedrooms and a self-contained staff flat as well as substantial accommodation for the owners. Hamptons' Scottish office (0540 662020) is asking pounds 325,000 for the property.