Tenant’s duty to repair

by Peter Wood on June 18, 2014
Peter Wood

Peter Wood

The Supreme Court recently ruled that a term in a commercial lease requiring a tenant to carry out such repairs as were necessary to keep the premises in a tenantable condition did not require a notice from the landlord to activate it. It followed that on the expiry of the lease the landlord could claim the cost of necessary repairs. Peter Wood, a partner specialising in property law at Kidd Rapinet’s Farnham office said, “Repair clauses are often forgotten by tenants and can become an expensive headache at the end of a tenancy”.

In the case in question, the landlord had agreed with the tenant that alterations to the building by the tenant would be allowed subject to the provision that at the end of the lease the tenant was to restore the premises to their original state “if so required” by the landlord before the tenancy ended. Shortly before the expiry of the lease in question the landlord’s agent had telephoned the tenant and told her that the landlord wished the tenant to remove alterations it had made to the premises so as to restore them to their original condition. A surveyor had then prepared a written schedule of dilapidations setting out the work required to restore the premises, but that was only received by the tenant after the tenancy had ended.  The tenant refused to carry out the work, referencing the clause in the tenancy agreement indicating that all notices had to be received in writing and that the obligation only arose where a tenant had been asked to remedy such defects during the currency of the tenancy.

The Court ruled that the lease imposed a continuing obligation on the tenant which did not require any notice from the landlord to activate it.

Peter Wood comments “Tenants need to bear in mind that all that is needed, in general terms, to trigger a need for an activity under an obligation to keep (or return) a leased property in  a given condition is that the property is out of that condition”.

If you would like assistance in relation to a commercial lease, call Peter Wood at Kidd Rapinet on 01252 713242 for further information.