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Stuart J
Stuart J, Property Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 23698
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I have shared Tenants in Common ownership of 6 acres

Customer Question

I have shared Tenants in Common ownership of 6 acres agricultural land.
Shared ownership is between Candida Brouwer and myself Jacqueline Moriarty.I developed a campsite business where both P:P and site licences are in my sole name.
I am registered with accountants as sole trader.Due to Covid I decided to close the site until 2022Candida Brouwer wanted to open the campsite regardless of my wishes.
I wrote to her solicitors refusing permission unless she entered in to a temporary lease agreement, this was ignored and she has opened anyway.What can I do to stop this?
Am I liable if any problems occur whilst she runs the site?Jacqueline Moriarty
Submitted: 8 days ago.
Category: Property Law
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
please acknowledge
Expert:  Virtual-mod replied 7 days ago.
Hello,

I've been working hard to find a Professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
I will wait a little longer thank you
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Are you still trying?
Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 6 days ago.

Customer Services have asked me to look at this for you.

What is the reason that you don’t want to open until 2022?

If you own it tenants in common, why would you want a lease arrangement?

Is there more to this?

Customer: replied 6 days ago.
Both Candida Brouwer and I are in our 70's, I believe with all the different mutations of Covid it would be safer to open in 2022. The business is an eco campsite with compost toilets which have to be emptied manually. several times a day. We are tenants in common on land ownership, but I ran the business on my own as sole trader.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 5 days ago.

Thank you.

The potential problem for you here is that it’s a balancing act between complying with the regulations and safety and loss of income.

With the regulations being relaxed already and potentially being removed altogether later this month and if not this month, perhaps next month or even the month after, I don’t think that on a financial basis, you could justify closing until 2022.

Whilst the toilets may have to be emptied several times per day, and at your age you may be vulnerable even after having both jabs, it is something which could be contracted out someone less vulnerable.

The planning permission attaches to the site, not the individual and of the licence is in your sole name, it would be easy to put into joint names or transfer to your partner’s name.

If this were in court, judge is likely to say that there is no reason why you cannot simply tell your business partner to go ahead and you simply stay at home and it’s highly likely that a judge is going to want to know why you don’t go along with that.

You say that you wrote her solicitors are refusing permission but you don’t say on what basis the solicitors were communicating in the first place.

I can’t see why, in view of your concerns, having a temporary lease makes any difference although legally if both of you own the property, there is nothing to stop one of you having a lease although if she has opened anyway, there is an implied lease/licence by virtue of the fact that she is operating on her own.  I cannot see how having a lease would rid your fears over the virus.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
I cannot see where justifying financial losses has anything to do with this.?
The reason I wanted Candida Brouwer to enter into a lease agreement was to
a) not be held liable should there be complaints from customers
b) because when I ran my business I paid £3000 per year to lease the land from her.
The composting of humanure is specialised and not something which you can just employ anyone to do.
You refer to Candida Brouwer as my partner, true we have joint ownership of agricultural land, that doesn't make her my business partner.
Are you suggesting that I just hand over my business which I have developed over many years? for nothing?
Ther reason I have been communicating with her solicitor is because I want to divide or sell the land.My original question was , can I stop Candida Brouwer from running the business and if problems occur whilst she is running it, am I liable because of the licence being in my name
Expert:  Stuart J replied 5 days ago.

Do remember that I can only give you my opinion.

Another lawyer may have a different opinion. Litigation needs at least 2 parties and neither goes to court expecting to lose.

Nonetheless, one of them does, even though they have been told by their respective legal advisers that they have a good chance of success.

If there was a black-and-white answer to every legal problem there would be no need for anything to ever proceed to court.

In my opinion if you were to stop her trading, she suffers loss.

You would only be responsible in respect of complaints from customers if you were trading as a partnership, not if she was on her own.  If there was evidence that you were not trading with her, but in my opinion that absolves you of liability.

You have not mentioned before that you had to pay GBP3000 per year to lease the land from her when you were running a business.

“Partner”.  Semantics.  You are partners in the land although you haven’t mentioned before that the campsite was your business for which you paid GBP3000 to lease the land.

If you have a lease of the land then this you are free to close the business and open it as you wish provided you continue to pay the rental.

If you want to sell the land, and she doesn’t, and she won’t, then you can apply to court for an order for sale under section 14 of the Trusts of Land Appointment of Trustees Act to compel her to sell AND you can ask the court to award costs against her.  It is unlikely that she would be able to successfully defend any such application.

It was not apparent from your initial question that this was you’re business and that she was in effect just a joint landlord with you.  However with your further clarification, then she is not entitled to run you’re business any more than she would be entitled to run a chip shop which was you’re business albeit that you were jointly the landlords.  A landlord cannot simply step in and run someone else’s business purely because that person has decided they don’t want to open the shop any more so to speak.

However notwithstanding the business closure, I assume that you have still be paying the GBP3000 per year lease otherwise on are probably drafted lease, once the rent is 14 days late, then the landlord can foreclose on the lease and it ends.

She would be entitled to do that on her own because notice by one is notice by both.  If that’s the case, then your business ends but provided the rent is paid up to date and has never been late, then she has no right to run your business.

Customer: replied 5 days ago.
Thank you so much, that was very clear, though it gave me a lot to consider.Before I go on I should like to explain that I am almost deaf so apologise for being unable to use the phone.Jan to June 2019 was a horrendous time when all my savings were used to support a family trauma. Confident that I could survive with the remaining holiday season income, which I did, however, after paying overheads and maintaining the land I was almost out of funds.
The family difficulties together with financial problems, I decided it was time to retire and sell my privately owned house and the joint land adjacent to my house.
Candida Brouwer agreed.to sell but asked that I trade for one more year, giving her time to build her house., I reluctantly agreed,.
The winter of 2019 up until May 2020 was harsh, and after paying staff, refurbishing campsite buildings and ground maintenance my bank account was empty.
This coincided with Covid and isolation, When the gov. lifted isolation my plan was to only accept camper vans with independent facilities, but for some reason Candida interfered by insisting we accept all campers and asked staff to clean toilets and showers, the staff knew the task was impossible and were very unhappy with Candida's interference and left. I therefore decided to close for 2020.
That is when Candida Brouwer took over and ran the site herself without any agreement or payments to me.
When I reminded Candida that we should be preparing to sell, she became very angry and changed her mind, demanding that I only talk to her through her solicitor.
I sent many letters asking her not to run the business or at least pay me to lease it to her, this was ignored.
I asked that if she didn't want to sell then we could divide the land fairly , this she wouldn't do.So here I am looking at my business being run badly just so that she can line her pockets from a campsite which I set up,
I cant sell
I cant start a new life or an easier business.
I cant move house
I have now suffered depression and anxiety.In your view, applying to court under section 14, do you think I can do this myself ?Jacqueline
Expert:  Stuart J replied 5 days ago.

Thank you for the extra information.  You can of course apply to court for an injunction to stop her running your business although if the rent is not up to date, she could potentially foreclose on the lease depending on the terms of the lease.  I would need to look at the lease document to decide.

However what you can do is pull the rug from under her by making an application to court for an order for sale to compel her to sell the property.  That’s what I would be probably threatening now if you don’t want to carry on with the business.

There is a potential argument over the value of the land because the value of the land is one thing and the business (which belongs to you) is something else altogether on which she has no interest.