Environment department is alleged to have failed in a duty to maintain the Windsor property it occupied

A government department is being sued for more than £300,000 in a row over property at Windsor.

Landlord Marchmont (Friargate) is suing the first secretary of state, a post formerly held by John Prescott, in a dispute over Crown House at Victoria Street, Windsor.

Marchmont sold the property for £3m in May 2005, but kept the right to sue for damages for any dilapidations from its tenants, a High Court writ states.

Prescott, as secretary of state for the environment, took a 25-year lease of the premises for the department in April 1980, but the writ claims that the tenant left in March 2006 without carrying out any of the work that should have been done.

John Prescott
Prescott took the lease as secretary of state for the environment

The tenant should have ensured that the property was in a clean and tidy condition when handed back, and that it was newly painted and in good repair, with the windows cleaned every two months, the court will hear.

According to the writ, the tenant failed both to meet its obligations, and to comply with a schedule of dilapidations served, the writ says.

Marchmont is claiming over £300,000 for repair and reinstatement work on the property, as well as more than £56,000 for loss of rent while the works were carried out over 22 weeks.

It has also provided a report stating that the property was worth over £400,000 less than it should have been because of the first secretary of state's failure to reinstate the property.

Despite large amounts of correspondence between the two sides, and meetings between surveyors, the department has not accepted liability for the dilapidations, and has not paid a penny to Marchmont in relation to the matter, the writ says.

Marchmont is now suing for damages.