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Ask F E Smith Your Own Question
F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10395
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My daughters commercial lease was forfieted by her landlord

Customer Question

Good morning, my daughters commercial lease was forfieted by her landlord for non payment of rent by changing the locks without prior notice of any kind, the action of not paying the rent was forced upon her because she was made to pay for essential repairs to the building and damage caused by vandilism even though she religiously paid half of the cost of the buildings insurance. She accepts in law she should not have withheld the rent but it seemed to be the only way to get the £3867 back. The landlord arranged a meeting with her within two weeks of the rent not being paid and agreed my daughters monies should be returned to her. The work schedule that was agreed by the landlords builder in november 2012 (still not done) to be completed in the first quarter of 2013 was also agreed to be completed. That meeting was at the end of january 2015. In Febuary a renewal of the lease was offered to my daughter subject to the rent for january and february being paid, my daughter agreed to the renewal providing the monies she paid out (covered by paid invoices) was repaid and the work to the building that was stopping her from getting her fifth star from the enviromental department of the council (confirmed by the officer in an email) was put in writing with a completion date no later than six months from the renewal of the lease. There was no agreement reached as the landlord did not confirm either way, my daughter was just ignored as she was during the six months between her renewal period in 2011/12. The locks were changed trapping her property and three other companies property on july 24th last year. A solicitor was employed to act on behalf of my daughter who has turned out to be either out of his depth, more interested creating a bill or has been influenced (putting it politely) by the landlords reputation, the landlords solicitors have thwarted every attempt to allow my daughter access to her property to establish the full cost of the losses she has acrued by the landlords actions so that a claim for damages and losses can be put forward, a letter giving them until the 10th of july to allow access for the sole purpose of establishing the value of the contents of the freezers (now condemned by the health officer on grounds of time and lack of tempreture records again confirmed by email) and their response is to threaten to sell or dispose of her property if she doe's not remove it by the 8th. None of this dispute has been put in front of a Judge for any decision and as she has been told her actions of holding back her rent could not be justified in law, she has had to put up with many refusals by her landlord and their agent pushing her to takesuch drastic action, but the landlords actions left them in the position of taking responsiblity of care for my daughters property until the dispute is settled one way or another. After all this information given to you my question is can they dispose of her property without a court order and if it is possible to dispose of property can an injunction stop them from doing so in which case what type of injuction can be used. My name is ***** ***** daughters name is Tracy.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 1 year ago.

There is one piece of information which is absolutely central to this.

Was the lease properly drafted, by a solicitor or suchlike and if so was there a clause in it which provided for the landlord to peacefully re-enter the property in the event that the rent was unpaid for 14 days whether formally demanded or not? It would normally be in most leases but it’s central as to whether this was an unlawful eviction or not. It is highly likely that the clause was in there and if it was, then there is no need for the landlord to give notice. You can simply wait until rent is 14 days late, he doesn’t have to make rent demand, and then he can simply lock the tenant out.

The actual reason for not paying the rent is not relevant.

It doesn’t matter whether the landlord had not done some repairs, your daughter is not entitled to withhold rent.

By the same token the landlord is not able to hang onto your daughters property and is entitled to be recompensed for the cost of however much equipment is in there, they will not return it and whatever the value of what is in the freezers is. If they will not allow access, then she needs to make an estimate and then sue the landlord for whatever that costs. There is little point in exchanging lots of correspondence which will only serve to increase costs without moving the matter falls.

Prior to 6 April 2014, the landlord could levy distress on goods left on the property, in respect of unpaid rent. After April 2014 that changed to an extent and they now have to give 7 days clear notice of their intention to exercise the remedy. Here is an article on the subject

Your daughter however still remains liable for the unpaid rent, any repairs which your daughter was liable to do under the terms of the lease, and also, the property rent after foreclosure, until such time as the landlord has obtained a new tenant. The landlord is under a duty to mitigate his loss by trying to get a new tenant.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.