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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I started a business with my landlord 4 years ago. We started

Customer Question

I started a business with my landlord 4 years ago. We started the business in order to help him find a buyer as the building was empty and he could not find a tenant. we thought that if it was a running business then it would be more attractive for someone to buy.

3 months into the partnership he decided that he wanted to leave (this might have been a ploy to get me as a tenant) and gave me the option to buy him out of the partnership or we close the company down and I would loose the investment in the equipment in the business.

I decided to buy him out and soon after he left from the business his wife who is also joint landlord on the building and also my solicitor at that time issued me with a lease and asked me to sign it. I had no negotiation in the drafting of the lease and had no legal representation as she was my solicitor at that time. I signed the lease without studying it ( I trusted her as she was my solicitor up to a few month ago)and it was witnessed by my daughter.

The business has been for sale all the time and finally a year ago i found a buyer. When I informed them that i needed a copy of my lease in order to let the buyer study it they informed me that I have no lease as it was witnessed by my daughter and it was not valid. I was asked to sign it again but I did not as I found out that it was a head lease and it involved a lot of provisions and lots of guarantees from me.

I have been paying the rent by my Ltd company cheques all the time and now they demand that I pay from my personal account and not the business account.

What is my legal position as they refuse to accept the company cheques?

Also I have a new buyer but they have not responded to my repeated request to let me know what they would need as references and how they want to processed. I have now lost this latest buyer as he has been put off by the way they have been so difficult.

What is my position can I sell the Ltd Company only ie the goodwill without a lease or do i have to walk away from this and loose all?

If i do walk away I my still responsible or do I just give them notice that I am leaving and just vacate the premises?

Yours Sincerely,

P. Nicolaou
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

Is the solicitor acting for you and the landlord then?

The landlord is also yr business partner?

What do you want to happen and what do you want to know?


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes his wife the solicitor was acting for both my self and them as landlords.


the landlord was my business partner for about four months only. he no longer is a partner


I want to sell the business but i do not want to sign a head lease. or can I just walk away with nothing?

Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

The solicitor is in breach of
the practice rules/code of conduct because clearly, there is a conflict of
interest because the solicitor is acting in the interest clearly of her husband.
In addition, there is no problem with the original document being witnessed by
your daughter, it is still quite legal. It is not good practice to have a
family member witness it, but nonetheless, the document is perfectly valid. You
have clearly been misled.

If the landlord/business
partner is trying to enforce any kind of lease upon you or refusing to assign
it to any buyer or trying to enforce the terms of any lease, I would tell him
that you will be reporting the solicitor to the Solicitors Regulation Authority
for breach of the solicitor's rules.

There is no reason why you
cannot assign the lease that you have to the buyer. Although you will need the
landlord's consent to do that.

The most powerful lever you
have is the solicitors conduct.

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