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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71146
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A Commercial landlord has changed the locks without a court

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A Commercial landlord has changed the locks without a court order and is refusing to release personal belongings even though he has been supplied with Statutory Declarations. What legal form would I need to commence with legal action.

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

Is this a properly drafted commercial lease?

Why has he changed the locks?

If it was for rent arrears, how much would the rent arrears?

Have the arrears now been paid?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Firstly, the lease has never been finalized even though the fee was paid, however, there has been an ongoing situation with what is actually due for payment, we have requested several times via telephone calls and written communication to have a meeting to agree what is actually due. The Landlord insisted that we must pay his amount first and before any meeting can be arranged. This means although we have made payments, the landlord without notice changed the locks and yeas his rationale is because we were in arrears. This was carried out on the 26th March 2014 before CRAR came into force.

Thank you.

You occupy the building on a licence because the lease was never finalised which I assume you mean was never completed or never signed.

As such, CRAR does not apply in any event as you will see by following this link at the top of Page 1 on the right-hand column.

Even if you had a lease, the main difference is that before CRAR he could simply turn up once the rent was in arrears (usually by two weeks) whereas now, he has to give seven days notice.

As there is a dispute over the amount of rent due and if the landlord will not mediate then you have no option but to take him to court to release your goods to you.

If he is holding a lien over the goods he cannot sell them until he serves you a notice under the Torts Interference with Goods Act that he intends to sell them to pay his costs.

It is going to be much more risk-free and much quicker to pay the landlord what he claims is due, paying the amount under duress and then to sue the landlord (in the Small Claims Court if the amount is under £10,000 which you claim to have overpaid). Costs are not usually awarded in the Small Claims Court and therefore even if he uses solicitors he is unlikely to recover those costs.

On the other hand, if you take him to court for an injunction to release your goods to you there is a chance that the application may fail and a chance that he may get solicitor's costs awarded against you and they could be several thousand pounds at least.

Even if these are personal goods and a licence is in the name of a limited company, if the landlord will not release them, you are faced with a court application which once again could be risky.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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