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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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We have been served 6 months notice of forfeiture of the lease

Customer Question

We have been served 6 months notice of forfeiture of the lease on our pub after 6 years of a ten year lease by the private landlords. The reasons are dilapidations and rent arrears of just under £40,000. This ends on FEB 1ST 2014. We have been the subject of walk in possession for 5 years which we have never defaulted on and the landlords never enforced, but have not renewed since they served notice. The day after they informed us of their intentions, in their words "We've had enough of this reduced rent.. Put up or Shut up!", and one month before the notice was served, we received a wedding cancellation from a concerned couple who had been told in another local pub that we would not be here for their wedding. We then had a similar cancellation a week later. Both functions combined, conservatively worth about £6000 gross. The landlords family are all local and the information was obviously leaked by them or their agents The rumours have crucified the day to day business which now means we are struggling to pay our way till February and are using the rent money for stock and bills. The situation is all 'cloak and dagger' as their agent inferred that they have other plans for it (the building) but when asked directly "Did not know". Under the circumstances we suggested that they stop mithering for rent for the last 5 months (about £6k), which will give us just enough to move out on time and put right our house which we had just gutted, to rent out for our remaining 4 years in the pub! They agreed that sounded fair enough, but have now come back with a condition that we go a fortnight earlier than the date of termination and want us to sign a letter agreeing which seems strange. They also keep asking to enter to inspect the building ....having just done a full survey for breaches of covenant! Surely after everything they have thrown at us we are entitled to some 'quiet enjoyment' for the last few weeks and not have these people coming in dancing on our grave!? They have not gone through their solicitors and I have refused to sign anything, as the remainder of our brewery loan is secured on the lease so that should we default, the brewery have the option to take over and continue trading. I am thinking that if we leave earlier that could be construed as us forfeiting the lease and therefore fully liable for anything secured on it. Am I right to be suspicious of this situation as these agents are well known in the area for bullying and 'Sharp practice'? Also, is the rent issue an idle threat, as whenever we pay it comes off the arrears on their invoice system and therefore, should they now accept any monies, they would then be waiving the right to forfeit on the arrears?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Thank you for the detailed background - what is your legal question of me today about your situation please?

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello,

Just a quick reminder, there is an information request here from the Expert. This means they need to know more details before they will be able to give you a full answer.

Thank you,
Nicola
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Am I within my rights not letting them in to survey the building......again? They have offered free rent, but only if we sign to agree that we will leave on the 13th January even though the lease will terminate on 1st Feb...If we agree to this, then does this mean that in effect we are forfeiting before the landlords do? What are the possible implications of agreeing to this as far as debt secured on the lease, and us removing all fixtures and fittings to try and sell in order to recoup some of our investment. If we do not sign, then they have threatened to withdraw the offer of free rent till we leave and pursue us for all arrears owed after the lease is terminated... almost like blackmail! Can they do this?

Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Is there a clause in the lease that allows them entry, if so what does it say please?

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