How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Joshua Your Own Question
Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25448
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
35043042
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Joshua is online now

Can you please advise as to how we can best deal with the following

Customer Question

Can you please advise as to how we can best deal with the following situation:
Our landlord has a lease on a property where we have set up and operated a B&B on his behalf over the last 3 years.
We have been running a B&B on a live in basis.
At the end of Jan 2015 we were given 3 months notice verbally.
Our notice period expires on April 30th.
On receiving notice we approached the owner of the property asking to take over the lease on the B&B which he agreed to.
Our current landlord was then issued with notice. His notice expires on 30th April (the same date as ours).
My question is how to best deal with this situation legally. We do not expect our landlord will vacate the premises on expiry of his notice.
We are the only residents in the property our current landlord is not resident. Does this help? Can we just change the locks on 30th and the owner claim the contents against unpaid rents?
Please advise
Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. May I clarify that you have a business (commercial) lease for the property please rather than a residential tenancy in which you happen to be carrying out a business use?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The situation is that we have been offered the lease on the property. It is not a commercial lease but a residential lease within which the landlord has allowed the continued use of the property as a B&B. I am not concerned as to whether or not this is correct in a legal sense my only concerns relate to how we can take over the property.
The current tenant / our existing landlord / Mr Scott claims that he has a good lease and says he's not leaving.
We have been offered a new lease commencing 1st May subject to vacant possession being available. What I need is some practical advice as to how best to achieve this objective. At present Mr Scott is suspicious that we are attempting to get the lease behind his back but is not aware that we have now been offered the lease.
I believe that Mr scott is still behind on the rent, the landlord advised us that he was £3500 behind and had been given until Sat 18th to pay the arrears. The full situation here is that Mr scott has 3 areas he currently leases on the farm 1) the house (which we want) 2) the barn, the lease on which is also being terminated 3) an external storage yard, which he will be allowed to retain if he vacates the other areas in time and pays his areas.
My concern is that:
1) I do not believe that Mr scott will vacate the property as per the notice he has received.
2) he will seek to remove us from the property in line with the notice he issued to us.
I'm seeking practical advice as to how to achieve our desired outcome. Aldi I see no benefit to him in not going on time as he should however the otherway to look at this is what would you advise Mr scott to do to maintain his position at the house then look at how we might thwart such action!
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
This sort of situation can be an awkward one to manage although the legal position itself is relatively straightforward. (Abbreviations in brackets for ease) The legal position is that the freeholder cannot serve notice on you to leave as you have no tenancy with the freeholder (FH). He can only serve notice on your landlord (T). If FH serves valid notice on T then your subtenancy you have from T falls away as well and FH can if necessary enter into new negotiations with you for a lease or if he wishes you to vacate against your wishes then he must seek an application to evict you in the courts. So if you are satisified that the notice served on T is valid then there is no longer any lease and accordingly FH is free to negotiate a new lease with you. The potential difficulties in practice however (as will be the case here no doubt) is where one or more parties in the chain dispute that a notice is valid. Certainly the notice served on you by T is invalid if only given verbally as a notice must be in writing so this can be ignored. As to whether the notice served on T is invalid is a possibility. If the tenancy granted to T be FH is a residential tenancy then he must give two months notice at a minimum and comply with any other conditions in the tenancy agreement in order to bring the tenancy to an end. You have no way of knowing whether the notice served by FH on T is valid because you will not likely have seen it and have no right to demand to see it. The same goes for their agreement. Accordingly the best way to normally manage such a situation is by discussing the proposed new lease with FH but advising that you need to be sure of the date of his existing lease to T has ended because you will continue to owe rent to T until such time as his lease does end. With this in mind you could ask FH to give you further information regarding this, in particular a copy of the notice and if possible a solicitors letter confirming the position to you which you can use to approach T directly and outline your concerns that his lease has ended. If he disputes this you may need to advise that you are not in a position to pay him any more rent until the status of his tenancy has been clarified either by agreement between T and FH or if necessary through the courts. The rent at the same time can be saved by you - as you will have to pay it one of T or FH once any dispute is resolved. There are dangers of the above approach. You may find that T takes action against you for breach of tenancy he claims still exists and seeks to evict you. FH may grow tired of waiting to negotiate a new lease and may change his mind. Therefore you need to adopt a fleximble management appraoch to the situation to handle the two competing parties as best you can. If T takes legal action to attempt to recover monies or evict you the best approach is to join in FH with any such claim as part of your defence and ask the court to decide the status of the tenancy and advise that you have rent ready to pay to the appropriate party dependent on the courts decision. If you have maintained your negotiations with FH you can potentially put in place a new lease with FH as soon as the existing tenancy situation is clarified. Accordingly whilst the legal position is relatively straightforward managing such a position in practice can require a delicate hand but using the above techniques you can hopefully best manage the position to achieve a successful outcome. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The freeholder was aware that he had to give two months notice (so I assume took legal advice) so our landlord / the tenant was given two months written notice (I saw a copy of the letter). He has also had at least two follow up letters reiterating that he must vacate the property by 30th april. He has not responded to any of them and carries on with his activities regardless!
As we are dealing with a residential lease where the tenant (in fact may not even have a lease. The original lease was in his nephews name! He then produced a second lease that was in his name however was executed whilst he was (and he still is) an undischarged bancrupt and thus not vaild) is not resident and he owes substantial sums to the freeholder. Under these circumstances is the freeholder not within his rights to simply change the locks to "take possession" at midnight on 30th April and issue us with a new lease?
As for any contents of the house belonging to be tenant? As the freeholder is owed substantial sums can he simply claim any contents left by the tenant to off set against unpaid rents?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
As T (just to remind you of my abbreviation, your landlord) is not in occupation this cannot be an assured shorthold tenancy that he has (whatever tenancy he may or may not have) and therefore is likely to be at best a contractual tenancy, if FH is satisifed that he has served satisfactory notice then he can (with your permission) determine the tenancy by retentering the property and changing the locks. If you consent to this you should be very careful to ensure that you have in writing first an unconditional offer of a new lease with agreed terms so that you can ensure you do not accidentally make yourself homeless if the landlord decides not to offer you a lease at this point. Ideally you would involve a solicitor to assist you in agreeing lease terms.As regards ***** ***** FH could exercise a lien over the goods but he may not sell them without either a) giving T 3 months notice nof his intention to do so or b) obtaining a court order for the debt from the courts.Based on what you say it would seem that T is unlikely to have a lease for the property however if he has paid rent to FH (albeit is no in arrears) and FH has accepted rent he may have a lease, though not a least with security of tenure so providing the landlord has served satisfacotry notice the position is likely to be as above.Can I help you with anything else or has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, thanks for that Joshua. That is was I thought (and hoped) to be the case.I am however still concerned that T may simply refuse to leave. Obviously T is something of a dodgy character. All we want is to pursuade him to vacate the premises on April 30th. IN the first instance we needed to know our rights (which I feel we are clear on now) and secondly we need as much leverage as we can get to encourage him to leave quietly. We know as a matter of fact that he is:1). Holding company directorships under a false name?2). Acting as a company director whilst bankrupt?3). Obtaining credit under a false name (credit card)?4). Employing full time staff on a cash in hand basis?Can you please tell me:What would be the penalty for each of the above? Who enforces the penalties? Who should they be reported to? Do you have any other suggestions as to what we might use as effective leverage?
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your reply. I am very happy to continue to assist but I need to balance my time and am conscious of the amount of time I have spent on the above to date. I should be very grateful if you would kindly consider clicking to provide a rating for my service to date. I will be delighted to continue to assist in the morning. I am grateful for your understanding.
Joshua and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the above.

items 1, 2 and 3 are all criminal offences and can lead to fines and / or custody.
For 1 and 2 Companies House can be informed. For 3 the police can be informed.

4 is not illegal in itself but failure to pay tax can be deemed tax evasion and carries criminal penalties or can result in civil tax penalties. HMRC can be contacted using their tax evasion hotline.

Related Property Law Questions