Any problems that arise between a landlord and their tenants can cost both sides a lot of time, money and stress, while irreparably damaging the relationships between the parties. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, as many landlord-tenant disputes can be resolved amicably, saving everyone time, money and unnecessary conflict.
At Stephens & Son, our Commercial Property Disputes team regularly advise commercial landlords and tenants in Chatham, throughout Kent and beyond on all manner of legal disputes.
Our landlord and tenant dispute resolution expertise includes:
- Breach of a commercial lease
- Rent deposit disputes
- Authorised guarantee agreements
- Break clauses and terminating a commercial lease
- Assignment and subletting disputes
- Alterations, repairs and dilapidations disputes
- Forfeiture and possession proceedings
- Applications for lease renewal
- Tenant insolvency issues
Wherever possible, we will seek an amicable settlement of your dispute, getting you a solution as quickly and cost-effectively as we can. However, should more robust action be required, we can support you through taking action in court to defend your position.
At all times, our focus will be on getting you the result you need in the right way for your overall commercial priorities and other key considerations.
Advising businesses in Chatham, Kent and beyond
We can also offer meetings at your place of business or at home, as well as via video conferencing where this is more convenient.
Types of landlord-tenant disputes we can assist with
Breach of a commercial lease
Where a landlord or tenant has breached the terms of their commercial lease we can advise on your options. These could potentially include debt recovery and enforcement, securing a voluntary agreement or court order requiring the other party to take a specific action or refrain from doing so, and the issues of any damages you may be able to claim.
Rent deposit disputes
There are strict rules governing the way rent deposits must be held, as well as when and how landlords can use those funds. Where there is a dispute over these rules or how a deposit has been used, we can assist with finding the right way forward.
Our rent deposit disputes expertise includes:
- Reviewing and advising on the terms of rent deposit deeds
- Early release of rent deposits
- Rent deposit renegotiations
- Misuse of rent deposit funds
- Recovering rent deposits from insolvent landlords
Authorised guarantee agreements
Authorised guarantee agreements are commonly used where a commercial landlord has agreed to allow a tenant to assign their lease to a new tenant. The agreement protects the landlord against the risk of the new tenant breaching the covenants within the lease.
Our authorised guarantee agreements expertise includes:
- The use and interpretation of an AGA
- Understanding your rights under an AGA
- Enforcing the terms of an AGA
- Making and defending authorised guarantee agreement claims
Assignment and subletting disputes
Where a landlord’s consent is required before assigning or subletting a commercial property, the tenant may be able to take legal action if they believe that consent is being unreasonably delayed or withheld. We can advise either party on disputes over assignment and subletting, helping to keep things amicable wherever possible.
Our expertise with assignment and subletting disputes includes:
- Advising on your rights and responsibilities
- Disputes over consent
- Planning disputes over change of use
Break clauses and terminating a commercial lease
Where there is the need to terminate a commercial lease (either by the landlord or tenant), then there are various options that may allow this. If the lease contains a break clause, this may allow the tenancy to be ended early under certain conditions (usually on a fixed date). It may also be able to privately agree to end a tenancy early outside of a break clause.
Our expertise with break clauses and termination of commercial leases includes:
- Exercising break clauses
- Forfeiture and repossession
- Surrendering a commercial lease
- Advice about security of tenure and terminating a lease after expiry of the term
Applications for lease renewal
Commercial tenants often have the automatic right to renew their lease when the time comes, unless this has been specifically excluded under the terms of the lease. However, commercial landlords can oppose a lease renewal under certain circumstances e.g. if the tenant has breached the terms of the lease.
Our expertise includes lease renewal disputes related to:
- Applications for lease renewal under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954
- Lease renewals not covered by the Act
- Landlord opposition to the renewal of a commercial lease
Alterations, repairs and dilapidations
A commercial tenant will normally have obligations related to the repair and maintenance a property under the terms of their lease. If the landlord believes the tenant has breached these obligations, they may be able to make a financial claim for ‘dilapidations’.
Our expertise includes landlord-tenant disputes related to:
- An exiting tenant’s obligation to return the property to the condition it was in at the start of their lease
Tenant insolvency issues
If a tenant becomes insolvent, this can present a major problem for a commercial landlord with the potential to leave them significantly out of pocket. In such situation, it is important to swiftly explore your options to avoid or minimise any losses. If you are a commercial tenant facing insolvency, taking expert advice can help you minimise the fallout and protect yourself legally.
Our expertise with tenant insolvency includes:
- Debt recovery options i.e. commercial rent arrears recovery (CRAR)
- Calling in securities e.g. the tenant’s deposit or making a claim under a guarantee
- Forfeiting the lease
- Bringing insolvency proceedings against an insolvent tenant e.g. issuing statutory demands, winding up petitions and bankruptcy proceedings against individuals
How we can help you to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute
Pre-action dispute resolution
A lot of landlord-tenant disputes can be resolved swiftly and cost-effectively once our solicitors are involved. We find that the other party or parties to a dispute will often quickly decide they want to agree an amicable resolution once they receive a solicitor’s letter drafted by our team. This will set out the nature of the dispute, the outcome you want to see and the fact that you will take further action if a suitable outcome is not reached.
As well as drafting the initial letter, we can deal with all subsequent correspondence with the other party or parties, making the process as hands off as possible for you.
Should further action be needed, we can advise you on your options, including Alternative Dispute Resolution and court proceedings.
Alternative Dispute Resolution for landlords and tenants
Where the other party or parties do not fully accept your position, but are willing to seek an amicable solution, Alternative Dispute Resolution can be very effective. This can allow you to work together to agree an outcome that all parties can accept.
Our team can advise you on your options, including constructive negotiation and commercial mediation. We can assist with preparing your position, support you during the process and advise on any settlement you agree, so you can be confident you are getting the best available outcome for your position.
Where an amicable settlement cannot be reached, court proceedings may be required to defend your legal rights. Our landlord-tenant dispute resolution solicitors can provide honest advice on whether this approach is likely to achieve the outcome you need, as well as the expected cost and time involved.
Should you decide to initiate court proceedings or find you have to respond to court proceedings started by another party, we can help with preparing your case and make sure you have appropriate representation for any hearings that take place.
Our landlord and tenant dispute resolution fees
We offer an initial appointment to discuss your requirements from £100plus VAT.
Once we understand how we can best support you, we may be able to offer a fixed fee agreement for the next step (e.g. drafting a letter before action).
Where ongoing support is required, we can arrange flexible payment terms, including monthly billing to help you budget with precision.
Get in touch with our landlord and tenant solicitors in Chatham, Kent
If you need help with a landlord and tenant dispute, or any other commercial property issue, please get in touch to see how we can assist.