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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70535
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was served a termination notice for a property my business

Customer Question

I was served a termination notice for a property my business rented.
I moved my main business out of the building, as such, but still kept items belonging to my business in the premisses. (storage)
The landlord said I "remained in possession of the premises as a trespasser", after the termination date.
My question is -
Would I be liable for rent whilst been classed as a trespasser?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How long did you keep things in the property for after you moved out the majority?

How much of the building did the stuff which remained occupy?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Basically - the property was being sold....


We knew the guy who was going to buy the property - off our landlord.


And he was going to rent the building to us, for storage.


So - although moving our business out 20 APRIL - when the termination order was dated - we did keep stock in the ground level of the building (2 story building).
The building - by DECEMBER was sold to a different person, and he let us take out what we needed.
The landlords are now saying we owe rent for that period. April - December. during which they took over the paying of the council rates for the site.


Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

I think the landlord has worded his correspondence incorrectly.

I don't think you were a trespasser at all but I think that you remain in partial occupation for reasons which were understandable.

Nonetheless, whether you remained in occupation or you were in the building as a trespasser, you occupied part of the building and if you remain in occupation you are liable to pay rent and if you were a trespasser, you are liable to pay compensation/damages in respect of the trespass.

What you have to pay will be proportionate to the amount of rent that you are paying before, based upon the area that you occupied.

I'm sorry that this is probably bad news for you.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK -
Thats one path I cant take -
SO.....
In the previous December I had found the landlord a buyer. We'd agreed a price (as I liased for them) - with the person providing proof of funding (and then taking over correspondance) -
At this agreement stage I'd stated (on email) ...


in a position to offer £77,000 for the building (in total),
we would then carry out the work on the property at our own cost,

with the added "bonus" that I will not have to pay any more rent,
whilst the paper work is being sorted out.
(as we are keen to take over the premises ASAP)


To which they agreed - - -
They are now saying that the agreement was for "just 1 month" - - -
Would I be liable for any rent with this agreement in place ?
This buyer pulled out in AUGUST due to the waste of time and costs which he was having to endure, due to the "paperwork" still no where being completed.


Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK -
Thats one path I cant take -
SO.....
In the previous December I had found the landlord a buyer. We'd agreed a price (as I liased for them) - with the person providing proof of funding (and then taking over correspondance) -
At this agreement stage I'd stated (on email) ...


 


in a position to offer £77,000 for the building (in total),
we would then carry out the work on the property at our own cost,

with the added "bonus" that I will not have to pay any more rent,
whilst the paper work is being sorted out.
(as we are keen to take over the premises ASAP)


 


To which they agreed - - -
They are now saying that the agreement was for "just 1 month" - - -
Would I be liable for any rent with this agreement in place ?
This buyer pulled out in AUGUST due to the waste of time and costs which he was having to endure, due to the "paperwork" still no where being completed.



Thanks

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Unfortunately, under the Law at Property 1925, any agreement in relation to land or property must be in writing and signed by the buyer until then, there is nothing which is legally binding even for the one-month period.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As far as I am aware - the person who put an offer in on the property after the April date, when my business had "left" the building (and later bought it), was not made aware of my occupancy.
As the landlords are specifically after unpaid rent (not tresspassing "moeny") - then they cant have entered into negotiations about selling the property without informing the future buyer, that I was a tennant surely.
So does this mean that they have not acted correctly in some way.


Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As far as I am aware - the person who put an offer in on the property after the April date, when my business had "left" the building (and later bought it), was not made aware of my occupancy.
As the landlords are specifically after unpaid rent (not tresspassing "moeny") - then they cant have entered into negotiations about selling the property without informing the future buyer, that I was a tennant surely.
So does this mean that they have not acted correctly in some way.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
They should not have done but that is obviously an issue between landlord and his potential buyer
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have found out that the landlords took over the council rates from 20th April and classed it as unoccupied for a further year (8 months of which my items were still inside).
As they took over the responsibility for the rates (which I was libel as per the lease), and given that they told the council it wasnt occupied, would it be fair to assume they cant claim "RENT", as I would no longer be held to the conditions of the lease, and therefore would actually have to claim some sort of compensation for tresspassing, not rent ?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
That is an issue between you and the landlord and the council. Occupation is a matter of fact and the fact is that you were still in occupation by virtue of the fact that you had items still in the premises.

The claim they would have if you argued trespass would probably be exactly the same as the amount of rent because that is the amount of rent that they have lost as a result of your remaining in occupation
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have checked the original lease and I was using the property (party) as a shop - and mostly as storage.
Which they formulated the lease on.
But I found out in the January (2 years later) - that the property did not have the relevant planning permission to be used for anything other than "a nightclub" - so that was the main reason why I felt I should move the business out - as the council had sent a letter to me saying I could be fined for not having the relevant planning permission.
Could I have any basis to say the landlords falsely formulated the lease on incorrect information, and the terms of the lease are incorrect and void?


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have checked the original lease and I was using the property (party) as a shop - and mostly as storage.
Which they formulated the lease on.
But I found out in the January (2 years later) - that the property did not have the relevant planning permission to be used for anything other than "a nightclub" - so that was the main reason why I felt I should move the business out - as the council had sent a letter to me saying I could be fined for not having the relevant planning permission.
Could I have any basis to say the landlords falsely formulated the lease on incorrect information, and the terms of the lease are incorrect and void?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
If this was a properly drafted lease, there will usually be a provision in it whereby giving you the right to operate a particular business in the premises does not confirm that the use is legal.

When you move into the property, it is for you to check the planning permission to check that you can use it for what you want to use it for.

Most leases always say that this is the whole document and you have not relied on any representations made by the landlord.

If however the lease does not say any of that, and the landlord said that you could use it as a shop where is in actual fact the only use for which there was planning permission was a nightclub and the local authority were threatening to put a stop notice on you I think you have a possible grounds to terminate the lease for misrepresentation but you would have to read the lease in minute detail to check that this was not excluded.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have found a covering letter - which the landlords solicitors had sent me regarding my lease -
The draft copy had a clause preventing the use for retail - and I questioned it, as I did in fact (already) use the building for retial -


The letter states:



“following your conversation with Alex Sweetman of GVA Grimley earlier today I have been asked to modify the form of lease to delete the specific exclusion on the use for retial purposes.”
So would this be adequate proof to cancel the terms oof the lease for misrepresentation ?
Thanks

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have found a covering letter - which the landlords solicitors had sent me regarding my lease -
The draft copy had a clause preventing the use for retail - and I questioned it, as I did in fact (already) use the building for retial -


 


The letter states:




“following your conversation with Alex Sweetman of GVA Grimley earlier today I have been asked to modify the form of lease to delete the specific exclusion on the use for retial purposes.”
So would this be adequate proof to cancel the terms oof the lease for misrepresentation ?
Thanks

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
It does not give you the right to cancel the lease but it gives you the right to compensation if the misrepresentation caused you any problems or you had to close your business down.

Of course, it may be more economically viable for the landlord to allow you out of the lease rather than face a compensation claim
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We now have a court date - for the end of June.
I am going to be counter-claiming against them for the Misrepresentation of the lease forcing me to relocate my business.
Their estimated legal fees are +£13,000, on top of the so-called unpaid rent which they are after.
Am I allowed to claim anything against them (also) for being a self-employed man, having to do this all myself due to not being in a possision to afford to pay for legal help ?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
You can counterclaim for any loss that you can prove that you have suffered. However the burden of proof is quite high and you are going to need something from an accountant to quantify that.

At this stage you would be better trying to negotiate because clearly they think that they have a good claim although it may be their solicitor's dragging them into litigation in order to massage the solicitor's fees.

Even if you lose for any reason (I can only answer based upon the fact you have given me and I do not know what the other side are going to same court) you can always challenge their costs on the basis that they are disproportionate.

As I have already said I still think that you stayed in possession of the property because you still have things in there. The reasons may have been understandable but nonetheless you were an occupation albeit as a trespasser.

Jo