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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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withholding rent for Electrical failure?

Resolved Question:

Hello,

I am having quite a lot of difficulty with our landlord currently who is failing to make the necessary repairs to the electrics which are far under spec for our commercial property. Domestic installation, single phase, burnt cables etc.

They started works in the building to install a completely new system (3 phase, armoured cabling etc) as the other is completely beyond repair. The started the installation over two months ago and through not paying the electricians there has been huge delays which have been extremely disruptive to our business.

We sublet lots of Studios to businesses who are also extremely annoyed with us as there business has been disrupted. We are currently in a lease negotiation which makes the situation harder and I expect that this is a tactic to get us to sign a higher lease much more quickly.

In the meantime we have been operating on the same old and dangerous electrics which have been tripping constantly, the building is certainly not fit for purpose.

It is a commercial lease and quite an expensive one, whilst the electrics are in this state can I refuse to pay rent under the terms of it not being fit for purpose? How can I do this legally without forfeiting my lease?

Kind regards,

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now does the lease allow you to deduct or does it say not to deduct or set off?
Customer:

Hi Alex,

Customer:

Thanks for getting back to me. The Lease says without deduction or set of, however it also has another clause about dilapidation. I will find.

Customer:

There have also been times of set of before when we have paid for upfront costs and then agreed verbally to set of.

Customer:

If the whole or part of the premises becomes inaccessible or unfit for use then
the whole or an appropriate portion of the rent payable under this lease shall cease to be payable until the premises are accessible and fit for use.

Alex Watts : Sadly you can't withold rent, if you do then the Landlord can just come in and change the locks.
Alex Watts : You will then be out of business
Alex Watts : You should get 3 quotes for doing the work, then pick the cheapest one, this forms your loss
Alex Watts : You need to write and set out your losses and request that the work is done for you are paid within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
Alex Watts : If they do not then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
Alex Watts : The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
Alex Watts : If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.
Alex Watts : Can I clairfy anything for you about this today please?
Alex Watts : .
Customer:

Hi Alex,

Customer:

Thanks for this, it is very helpful.
I will act upon your advice, the landlord is already getting part of the work done, he's just not completing it.

As it has taken years of us coping and managing the situation ad thus incurring much losses for paying staff to manage this, is the way you described the only way to calculate the loss. Can I not for example suggest that our staffing costs and business disruption and loss of trade are something we would like to claim from them or on their insurance as it was there failure to maintain their fixtures and fittings?

Also, in what instance would the clause I mentioned on damage to property (fit for use) and cessation of rent payable under the lease become active.

Customer:

Regards,

Alex Watts :

You can but any claim needs to be below £10,000 otherwise it ceases to be a small claim

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

Yes that does thank you, ***** ***** I would estimate for staffing would be £40,000 per year for the past 4 years, the business interruption would come to a similar figure and I don't really know how I would calculate the loss of goodwill and revenue from lost trade however this would be considerable also.

For the time being the rent is already cripplingly high and with the failure of the electrics, I and numerous staff members are doing damage control rather then getting on with our job which is of course seeing a damaging loss in trade daily not to mention exhausting.

We are in quite a tricky position currently as this loss is becoming seriously restrictive on being able to pay rent in the first place. In such a case can the 'fit for use' clause (in the lease) be used?

Alex Watts :

As long as you keep it below £10,000 it would be a small claim. Over this amount you would need a Solicitor to draft proceedings for you

Customer:

and the fit for use clause?
'If the whole or part of the premises becomes inaccessible or unfit for use then the whole or an appropriate portion of the rent payable under this lease shall cease to be payable until the premises are accessible and fit for use'

Alex Watts :

Potentially but that is where you sue for breach of contract. But you must NOT with hold rent whatsoever.

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you rate my answer before you leave today.


If the system won’t let you please click reply.



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Customer:

I see, yes this was very helpful Alex thank you.In that case I should lump this in with the forceful re-entry, and lack of quiet enjoyment of the property also.

Customer:

best wishes

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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