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A landlord’s right to oppose the renewal of tenancy

…. Ground F – the landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Section 30(1)(f) gives a landlord a right to oppose a tenant’s request for a lease renewal. This can be granted on the basis that the landlord has the intention to demolish or reconstruct the premises at the end of the current tenancy (Ground F).
Cunliffe v Goodman sets out the standard for intention. The landlord’s intention must have moved “out of the zone of contemplation” and into “the valley of decision”, in simple terms; the landlord must have a firm and settled intention to carry out works covered under Ground F, along with a reasonable prospect of achieving the same. This can be evidenced by actions such as obtaining planning permission, or ensuring that the necessary board approvals are in place.
Livestock Underwriting Agency Ltd v Corbett and Newson Ltd lays out the time frame for the commencement of works. At trial, the landlord need not prove that they are in a position to commence works on the day of termination of the existing lease, merely within a reasonable period of time after the termination. The Court in this matter deemed three months to be a satisfactory period of time between the end of the existing tenancy and the commencement of the works.
When the landlord has disposed of their interest prior to trial.
Issues can present themselves when a landlord disposes of their interest before the time of the trial. It is important to determine that the landlord is the proprietor at the Land Registry and also the party who intends to carry out works under Ground F at the time of trial.
If either of these two conditions are not met, the landlord will be not succeed and the tenant will be entitled to the renewal of the tenancy.
It is worth noting that the gap between submission of the transfer and the registration of the new proprietor has the potential to cause difficulties. The gap between these two events can cause uncertainty approaching the time of trial and can often leave the new purchaser unprepared if they are only registered as the proprietor shortly before such a time.
If the new purchaser will be the landlord at the time of the trial, they must ensure that they are able to meet the requirements in Ground F. The intentions and planning of the previous landlord will have no bearing upon the Court’s decision surrounding the new landlord.
When the landlord has instructed building contractors
If the landlord is instructing building contractors to carry out the works, the element of control over these works is imperative. The landlord must be in complete control of the works including, but not limited to; the direction, inspection and approval of the works carried out.
These points require consideration when a property is due to change hands close to the date of a trial, or external contractors are brought in to carry out works to the property.
For expert advice contact our Commercial Property or Commercial Litigation team.