• In the civil procedure case of Pearlman v Keepers and Governors of Harrow School 1979 QB 56, it was held that tenants who carried out structural benefits were originally not entitled to certain benefits. 
  • This was later overturned by Lord Denning.

Facts of the Case

  • A tenant held a long lease of a three flooded house in London for which he lived here for 30 years.
  • The tenant installed a modern central heating system which included a gas fired boiler in the kitchen.
  • The piping which could not be removed in the house, was laid from the boiler on the ground floor passing under floors and through specially made holes in the ceiling and walls up to a metal tank in the roof/loft.
  • The tenant (C) claimed that the rateable value of the house should be adjusted according to S.1 (4A) of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. 
  • C applied to the County Court for a determination that as a result of the home improvement, the rateable value for the purposes of the 1967 Act, should be taken down from £1,597 to £1,487.

Issues in Pearlman v Keepers and Governors of Harrow School 1979 QB 56

  • Whether the installation of the heating system work done by C, constituted to an ‘improvement’ within the meaning of the 1967 Act. As this would result in benefits to C and further tenants.

Held by County Court

  • Held by Judge Curtis-Raleigh that the installation did not constitute “work of structural alteration”.
  • The appeal by C was dismissed and the Division Court refused C leave to apply, inter alia, an order of certioria (writ) to quash the judge’s order.

Lord Denning’s

  • It was held , allowing the appeal that as the installation of the central heating involved a large amount of alteration, it was “an improvement made by the execution of works amounting to structural alteration… or addition” within the meaning of the Housing Act 1974.
  • The County Court Act only applied to decisions where the court had jurisdiction.

Geoffrey lane L.J (Dissenting):

  • Since the original judge had misconducted the meaning of the words “structural alteration… or addition.” In the 1974 Act, he had erred in law and therefore wrongly deprived himself of jurisdiction to decide matters in respect of which jurisdiction was conferred on the County Court by paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 8.
  • The judge had done nothing which would suggest he went outside the proper area of his inquiry.
  • The even though the determination was made “final and conclusive” and notwithstanding the provision in section 107 of the County Courts Act 1959, the remedy of certiorari could not be excluded and the appeal should be allowed and an order made quashing the judge’s decision with a declaration that C’s improvements fell within paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 8 to the Act of 1974.