Ending a lease
Ending a commercial lease when either the landlord or tenant doesn’t want a renewal is undoubtedly complicated but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
As long as you fully understand your own legal position – like making sure you know the exact terms of your lease and the grounds on which you will be relying to end it – there is no reason why the process should not go smoothly.
Having said that, success relies on specific actions being taken at specific times, making sure notices and counter notices are served correctly and being aware of key dates and deadlines.
Getting it right
Wards Solicitors’ award-winning Property Disputes Team, working closely with our highly experienced Commercial Property lawyers, can guide you through the process – whether you are a landlord or a tenant – to get the outcome you want.
If a dispute arises, we will take swift action to resolve problems using negotiation, mediation and arbitration. We always try to avoid going to court but if that’s not possible, we use our skills and expertise to give you the best chance of winning.
What is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954?
This major piece of legislation was brought in to give commercial tenants protection after World War II when a dire shortage of business premises meant landlords were able to unfairly dominate negotiations when leases were nearing their expiry date.
As a result, most commercial tenants now have the automatic right to continue to occupy when their lease ends.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone and there are exclusions, for example, when the original lease was for six months or less and the tenant’s occupation has not gone on longer than 12 months.
Tenants – How do I end my commercial lease?
The starting point is to fully understand the small print of your lease before doing anything because it’s the detail of your lease that governs termination. Then make sure you have:
- Carefully checked your notice period;
- Ensured all your lease provisions – like rent payments and repair covenants – have been fulfilled prior to serving any notices;
- Made sure any notices are served correctly, exactly in line with the provisions of your lease and on the right person;
- Double-checked how long your rent paying obligations will continue;
- Left the building in good condition but made sure you have taken photographs so you can argue your case later if necessary.
Taking specialist legal advice before serving notice on a landlord is recommended as failing to correctly terminate your lease could mean you inadvertently end up with an expensive and unwanted lease extension.
Landlords – How do I end a commercial lease?
Landlords who don’t wish to renew a lease may have grounds for refusal based on certain criteria.
These include, under the Landlord and Tenant Act, when:
- Your tenant is in breach of their commercial lease obligations or has failed to pay their rent;
- You want to re-develop the property or take back possession so you can occupy it;
- You have found the tenant alternative accommodation.
If you want to end a commercial tenancy at the end of its lease term, taking legal advice at the earliest stage is important to make sure you qualify for the grounds on which you intend to rely.
Get in touch
For further information or an initial discussion, please contact any member of our acclaimed Property Disputes Team. You can see the full details of our team here.
To find the Wards office nearest to you, please click here.
Our specialist dispute resolution lawyers have years of experience in all types of property dispute, advising business owners, landlords and commercial tenants.
We’re known and respected for our straightforward, pragmatic approach and we will talk you through your options, working with you to find practical and cost-effective solutions.
Wards Solicitors’ specialist Disputes Team is singled out for praise in the 2020 Legal 500 Guide.
‘Over the years I have needed legal advice on a range of matters and have never hesitated to use Wards. Every team member in whichever discipline has always proved to be not only an expert in their field but very reactive to the exact needs of the client.’
‘Extremely empathetic, professional and very approachable.’