Thrings updates surveyors on commercial lease disputes

Surveyors and commercial property experts met in Bristol this week for a legal update, put on by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Bringing the surveyors up to date on the commercial lease renewal process under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 was commercial property litigation partner at Thrings, Michael Tatters, who informed attendees of the legal protections in place for both business landlords and tenants.

Among the topics covered were lease renewal notices, grounds of opposition, term length and break clause options, determining rent under a new tenancy and modernising the terms of the lease. While the overriding rules may not have changed substantially in recent times, Michael delved into the latest court rulings to raise new interpretations of lease renewal rules.

One of these cases is that of S Frances Limited v. The Cavendish Hotel (London) Limited 2018 UKSC 62, in which the court ruled against a commercial landlord seeking to rely on the redevelopment ground of opposition (Ground ‘F’) to refuse the tenant a renewed lease.

Ground ‘F’ allows for a landlord to oppose a tenant’s application to renew a lease if substantial works are to be undertaken on the property. The ruling further protects the tenant’s rights to remain in a property by preventing landlords from relying on what would otherwise appear to be substantial and valid schemes of works – but which would not actually be undertaken if the tenant were to leave voluntarily. In other words, works cannot be put forward purely as a means to evict a tenant.

In order to lawfully refuse the renewal of a lease, both sufficiently evidenced plans showing a landlord’s genuine intention to undertake the works, and proof that those same works would still be carried out if the tenant leaves / had not requested a new lease, should be provided.

The seminar marks a continuation of the relationship between RICS and Thrings, with members of Thrings’ Property Litigation team regularly contributing to the industry body’s educational events, including the revered annual RICS South West seminar.

For more information about this RICS event – which delivers six hours of regionally-focused CPD learning – please click here.

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