With long experience of advising commercial landlords we know that taking back possession of leased premises is sometimes straightforward but very often not. You may have a well drafted lease with an effective forfeiture clause and clear grounds for forfeiture but you may not. Or the lease may be protected (renewable).
Is the occupier a tenant or a licensee or a trespasser?
Usually the position is clear but sometimes the occupation is either undocumented or is covered by a license when really it should be a lease. In other cases the occupier is there without permission, ie is a trespasser. The nature of the occupation determines how you repossess.
Leases protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
Where the 1954 Act has not been excluded you must have one of the statutory grounds for taking the premises back and must comply with the notice procedure. Some of the grounds are discretionary and some involve paying compensation to the tenant.
Forfeiture and peaceable re-entry
This option has the attraction of speed and economy. You will first need to serve notice (in the correct form) setting out in detail the grounds of forfeiture, by reference to the lease clauses. After expiry you can go into possession and change the locks provided you can do so without force.
Forfeiture by court order
After serving the correct notice setting out your grounds you can apply to the court for an order for possession. The court will deal with any application for relief in the course of those proceedings so the outcome will be certainty.
Even if the lease is primarily commercial, if any part of the premises is occupied as a dwelling you must comply with the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 which essentially means that you need a court order and peaceable re-entry even of just the business part of the premises will not be possible.
We can help with:
- Analysing the nature of the occupier’s interest – tenant, licensee or trespasser
- The form and length of notice needed to terminate the lease
- The degree of risk of the tenant or a third party getting relief from forfeiture
- Whether peaceable re-entry is a good option
- What the court process would involve
It’s important to get the right advice at the outset. Serving the wrong notice or choosing the wrong course of action can mean delay and expense. Contact us today.