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Thomas
Thomas, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7602
Experience:  UK solicitor holding an England and Wales practising Certificate.
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We had a commercial lease that expired on 24th December 2013.

Resolved Question:

We had a commercial lease that expired on 24th December 2013. We were in the process of a sale and surrender but the landlord was not responsive and we were unable to complete the deal before the end of the lease. We ceased trading on the 24th December and vacated the property. We have heard nothing from the landlord and are thinking of just sending the keys back. Are we liable for anything other than potentially schedule of dilapidations which we did address most of?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi

Thank you for your question and patience, I’m Tom and I’ll try to help you.

Provided that you have vacated the premises on or before the expiry of the fixed term (at which time you were up to date with the rent/insurance contributions etc) and removed all of the items that you own it is unlikely that you will be liable for anything else to the landlord, beyond those matters identified in the schedule of dilapidations.

The only possibility where you may end up with any further liability would be where:-
1. You had earlier breach one of the tenant’s covenants of the lease and the landlord suffered damage because of it, but he would surely have let you know about this.
2. There are existing bills to pay for the utilities/business rates etc
3. If you had left items at the property which the landlord then had to pay to have stored
4. If there is a clause in the lease requiring you to apply to the land registry to close the leasehold title registered because of the lease. This is quite easy to do if there is an obligation and you have not done it.

Apart from that it will just be the schedule of dilapidations.

My goal is to provide you with a good service. If you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up issues specifically relating to your question.


Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Tom,


 


Can I please clarify - the landlord does not have an agent any longer therefore can we just post the keys to their home address and should we accompany this with a letter to advise we had vacated on the expiry date of the lease? Do we need to leave a forwarding address?


 


Thanks for your help.

Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

I would first write/email/text the landlord advising that you wish to return the keys immediately and ask that they contact you (give them your contact details). State that you will post the keys by registered post to the landlord's address as listed in the lease 7 days after the date of the letter should you not hear from them.

Post it if no reply.

Kind regards

Tom
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Tom,


 


In view of the time that has passed since expiry - will the landlord challenge whether we had vacated the property at the correct time?


We have witnesses to confirm we did not carry one trading beyond December and confirmation of cancellation of VAT, etc but is that enough?


Apologies for all the questions but this has been a notoriously difficult landlord in terms of lack of response and then suddenly hiring surveyors etc to approach us so we do not normally liaise with them directly.


 


Thanks!

Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

I assume that you have otherwise informed the landlord that you have vacated and taken reasonable efforts to return the keys, so in that case you should still be okay.

Make sure you keep copies of everything, though.

Kind regards,

Tom
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