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Tenant insolvency – landlord’s obligation for empty property rates

Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust and another v Birmingham City Council [2014] EWHC 2207 (Admin) (Hickinbottom J) (10 July 2014)

In our February 2014 edition, Commercial Leases [2014] Volume 28 Issue 1 at p2020, we summarised a number of recent decisions focussing on what was meant by ‘occupation’ so as to give rise to an obligation on a landlord to discharge business rates on empty property. The issue surfaces again in this case where the tenant became insolvent and the liquidator disclaimed the lease.

Tenancies, Tenant Insolvency

Leased or equipment purchased by hire-purchase – waiver letters requested of landlords – the implications

On 30 June 2014 Hogan Lovells posted an interesting blog on this subject. It drew attention to the situation where a tenant of commercial premises seeks to lease equipment from third parties for use in their business premises. Evidently it is considered good practice for finance or leasing companies to ensure that the landlord of the premises will make no claim to the equipment. Landlords and their managing agents are regularly asked by their tenants to sign standard form waiver letters. Often this request is made at short notice, perhaps just as the equipment is about to be delivered or installed.

Tenancies

Lease of commercial premises – user restrictions – competition law

This case concerns the impact of competition law. The judge was asked to determine a preliminary issue in an unopposed application for a renewal tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (‘the Act’). The issue concerned the user clause of the proposed new lease.

Renewal of Lease, Tenancies

Business lease renewal – opposition to a new tenancy – grounds 30(1)(a), (b) and (c) – alleged breach of covenants

In the case the Court of Appeal was required to consider whether the tenant was entitled to a new lease. The landlord opposed the grant of a new lease on several grounds.

Renewal of Lease, Tenancies

Alterations – landlord’s consent – not to be unreasonably withheld – whether fear of a future enfranchisement claim to deprive landlord of the freehold a reasonable ground to withhold consent

We summarise this decision in brief because it is topical in that last year the government amended the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to allow certain buildings to be converted from B1 office use to C3 residential use without the need for an express grant of planning permission. The relaxation, however, is a temporary one. Developers looking to take advantage of it must ensure that the residential user begins before 30 may 2016.

Disputes & Litigation
Hot Topics

Landlord’s unconditional written consent – what does this amount to in context?

We summarise this Scottish case in brief to raise awareness and because it raises an interesting issue of construction of the term ‘unconditional written consent’ as used in a definition of ‘Landlord’s Consent’ in the context of the assignment of a tenant’s interest in a commercial lease.

Disputes & Litigation

Signatures on documents – not always needed to create a binding contract or obligation

We mention this case in brief by way of a timely reminder as to the circumstances in which a binding obligation may arise even if there are no formal documents or signatures.

Leases, Agreements

Business lease – repairs – alterations – reinstatement – notice required?

Although this was an appeal from a decision of a Scottish Court the general principle is applicable to English landlord and tenant law.

Leases, Options

Contract for the sale of land – forged signature – ratification – specific performance

In November 2009 the defendant seller (S) agreed to sell a property to the claimant purchaser (P) for the sum of £155,000.

Sale & Purchase, Sale of Lease

Certificate of practical completion – development project – right to rescind – obligation to complete

The developer vendor (V) agreed to sell and the purchaser agreed to buy former agricultural barns once V had converted them for residential occupation.

Sale & Purchase, Rescission for Breach

Lease renewal – length of new term – tenant required to take longer term than requested

This interesting decision has just come to my notice. I summarise it briefly for readers because it is topical on the current trend of shorter lease lengths and the modern approach of the courts. This case was an uncontested lease renewal. There were two issues between the parties; length of the new term – tenant proposed five years – landlord proposed 15 years and the amount of the new rent – tenant proposed £37,500 pa and the landlord proposed an initial rent of £182,350 subject to five yearly upwardly only rent reviews. I propose to focus on the lease length issue.

Tenancies, Renewal of Tenancy

Business tenancy – tenant partnership – landlord one of two partners – entitlement of remaining partner to seek a renewal tenancy

In our December 2013 issue, Commercial Leases, Volume 27 Issue 10, p2003, we summarised a first instance decision of HHJ Walden-Smith on a preliminary issue on whether one of two existing partners who were both tenants of the subject holding under the existing lease is entitled to make an application for a new tenancy under s24 Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the Act). The judge held that he was not. An appeal to the Court of Appeal failed.

Tenancies, Renewal of Tenancy

Business lease – conditional consent to assign – breach of statutory duty – assessment of damages

This case concerned an appeal against the assessment of damages awarded by the trial judge in respect of the landlord’s breach of statutory duty to give consent to the assignment of the lease of business premises.

Disputes & Litigation

Commercial premises – landlord requiring consent to the letting of a unit – tenant refusing consent – test of reasonableness

Staying with the theme of consents we highlight this Scottish case in brief. It raises a twist on the usual type of case on consents because here it is the landlord who seeks the consent of the tenant.

Disputes & Litigation