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Legal advice for firms engaged in landlord and tenant disputes

If you are a tenant of a commercial property, it is vital to gain an understanding of your rights and obligations.

Should a dispute arise with the commercial landlord – whether it relates to details of a lease, repairs, or late payment of rent – you should seek immediate help from a commercial property solicitor.

Here at First4lawyers, we work hard to help resolve such matters as swiftly as possible. Contact our experts to find out more.

What are the causes of disputes between commercial landlords and tenants?

The main causes of disputes between you (the tenant) and your landlord may involve any of the following factors:

  • Dilapidations and repairs – If any part of your property is in a state of disrepair, it is important to know whether it is you or the landlord who is obliged to pay for – and carry out – repairs for the length of the lease. This is especially important when the lease comes to an end; otherwise your landlord may be able to bring a claim for dilapidations against you.
  • Rent arrears If you are behind with your rent, your landlord may issue a rent demand or notice on you; they could also bring their claim to court.
  • Service charge disputes Your landlord decides how much to charge for services, such as general maintenance, as they choose which contractors to use for the work you need.
  • Subletting – You can sublet your commercial property as long as there is no express clause against it (or at least doing so without permission) in the lease. But, if you sublet the property for profit against the wishes of your landlord, you could face court action and have to pay damages.

I’ve heard my landlord can cancel my lease if I’m late paying rent – is this true?

If you breach your obligations as a tenant, your landlord may have the right to re-enter the property and forfeit the lease. Your landlord must serve the proper notices for this forfeiture to be lawful, though.

In fact, the powers of a commercial landlord to deal with non-payment of rent are much more far-reaching than they are for their residential counterparts. 

Most commercial leases will include a clause allowing the landlord to terminate the lease if the tenant does not pay the rent for a specified number of days. This is usually somewhere between 14 and 28 days.

The landlord has given me notice of forfeiture – can I contest this?

As the tenant, you have the right to apply for ‘relief from forfeiture’. This gives you the option to remedy the breaches of your lease. This may well include paying rent arrears and costs (locksmiths, bailiff’s fees etc.).

If your landlord is granted a possession order, you will usually have 28 days to either apply for relief or vacate the premises.

What happens if, after I have taken the lease, I discover there are problems relating to the premises that impact on my business?

The legal principle of ‘buyers beware’ applies to tenants taking a lease. That means that you take a property ‘warts and all’ and must satisfy yourself that it is suitable both physically and legally for its intended purpose before signing any relevant legal documents.

I have a dispute with a landlord over commercial property – what should I do?

As stated previously, it is very important that you know your rights and act accordingly.

Whether you feel your landlord has acted illegally, or you wish to rectify the situation, First4lawyers can provide expert solicitors for you and your business.

Whether you’re running a small company or a large firm dealing with blue-chip clients, we can help. Call the advisors at First4lawyers, or fill out the Request a Callback form at the top of the screen, and we’ll be in touch.

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