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  1.  
    Good morning everyone.

    I realise this question is barely fitting of this forum, but I thought I'd ask regardless as there's some very knowledgeable individuals on here who might be able to clarify.

    My friend runs a salon (hairdressers) and is under a commercial lease until September 2019. The building in question (housing the salon, and apartments above) has just been sold, and the new owners are very much intent on renovating the building ASAP. As part of the renovation, they would like her to vacate, but she is not keen and has pointed out that she has a valid lease and hasn't missed any rental payments. She has so far been harassed by the new landlord's builder, who told her the property is unsafe and she needs to leave, and more recently told that a supporting wall must be erected in her shop for the safety of the floors above, also requiring her to exit the property and give up her lease.

    She has been to her solicitor who advised her to stay put, but has added that there's a possibility that they can ask her to vacate if they can prove there are structural defects that must be rectified urgently. As such, she is now looking to close down her salon as she feels quite threatened.

    Now this seems like a simple case of intimidation. I'd imagine they probably can force her out, but only if an impartial structural engineer provides legal evidence that there is a safety risk to her solicitor / a court? Since they want her out for business reasons, it seems quite obvious to me that they're doing whatever they can to shift her.

    Anything I can feed back would be most helpful!
  2.  
    I am part owner in a commercial property (in the UK) but not a legal expert - from my experience as tenant with a commercial lease she is entitled to stay until the expiry of her lease and then she has the right to a new lease which has to be negotiated. The procedures are laid down in law as to what notices has to be served and what happens in the event of a failure of the negotiation. It depends upon the terms of the current lease regarding repairs (who is responsible etc). If the lease was halfway decent it should state what happens in the event that the tenant is forced to leave and under what circumstances this can happen. If the building actually is structurally unsound then read the lease properly and consult any insurance policies that may be in force. A solicitors advice should be sought but if the new LL want her out then I would expect compensation would need to be paid (by the LL) and this would be by agreement. IMO the solicitor should not be saying what could possibly happen but should be stating what can / will happen and the consequences following.

    This could get expensive, it depends IMO on your friends future plans - does she intend to carry on after Sept 2019 after negotiating a new lease? If she feels threatened one way around the problem is to inform the new LL that from now on all communication must be in writing to her solicitor. This puts her one step away from the LL and usually solicitors don't get intimidated.

    Your friend has the right to sell the remaining portion of her lease and the LL can not reasonably refuse to accept the new tenant. There will be market guide lines on the value of the lease (a bit like typical rent = 1/20 of the freehold price of the property / pa but I've never been involved with lease valuations like this) One way out - if your friend wants to leave is to offer the remaining portion of her lease to the LL. It will have a value but with just over a year remaining not a lot (on the other hand if the LL want her out they will have to pay).
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime3 days ago
     
    Posted By: Peter_in_HungaryOne way out - if your friend wants to leave is to offer the remaining portion of her lease to the LL. It will have a value but with just over a year remaining not a lot (on the other hand if the LL want her out they will have to pay).

    I was thinking something similar. If your friend can think of an amount of money that would make her happy to move out, then suggest to the landlord that they pay her that (plus a bit of a margin for negotiation).

    Also as PiH mentioned, check what insurance there is. She might possibly have some that would fund her legal costs.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTime3 days ago edited
     
    Does she live in one of the apartments above?

    https://www.commercialtrust.co.uk/commercial-mortgage/commercial-guide/commercial-tenant-eviction/

    "Protection from eviction is the property mixed use?

    Under section 2 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – ‘Restriction on re-entry without due process of law’ – it is illegal to evict a tenant by any means other than a court order where all or part of the property is lawfully occupied by a residential tenant. This extends to mixed-use property, such as a flat above a shop.

    Therefore, you will be unable to forfeit the lease on a mixed-use property by exercising re-entry unless the residential element of the premises is unoccupied at the time of forfeiture."
  3.  
    Posted By: CWattersDoes she live in one of the apartments above?

    https://www.commercialtrust.co.uk/commercial-mortgage/commercial-guide/commercial-tenant-eviction/" rel="nofollow" >https://www.commercialtrust.co.uk/commercial-mortgage/commercial-guide/commercial-tenant-eviction/

    "Protection from eviction is the property mixed use?

    Under section 2 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – ‘Restriction on re-entry without due process of law’ – it is illegal to evict a tenant by any means other than a court order where all or part of the property is lawfully occupied by a residential tenant. This extends to mixed-use property, such as a flat above a shop.

    Therefore, you will be unable to forfeit the lease on a mixed-use property by exercising re-entry unless the residential element of the premises is unoccupied at the time of forfeiture."


    No, she isn't a tenant of the residential units above. They're vacant, and currently have builders in tearing them to pieces.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTime3 days ago
     
    I think I would recommend she keep a diary of any letters and conversations she may have just in case she needs to report the harassment later.

    If she feels she has to leave then she should give notice as required in the lease. If she has to leave suddenly/immediately get the solicitor to write to the landlord asap otherwise the court can argue she left of her own free will and might even hit her with damages for breech of contract and unpaid rent to sept 19. The letter needs to make clear her reasons for breech of lease. This is where having evidence will count.

    https://www.gov.uk/terminating-a-commercial-property-lease-early

    "Ending a commercial property lease early

    A commercial property lease usually continues until its end date unless you include a clause to end it earlier.

    Break clause

    This is an official date in the lease, agreed by the landlord and tenant, where the lease can be ‘broken’ without anyone facing a penalty. As a tenant, you need to give your landlord 2 months notice that you are using the break clause. As a landlord, you can only use it if your tenant agrees."

    snip..

    "Landlords and ending a lease

    As a landlord, you can only end a lease when the tenant fails to pay rent or meet other lease obligations.

    If you have included a ‘forfeiture clause’ in the lease, you can use it in these situations to end the lease. However, if the tenant can challenge this in court they may be allowed to stay in the property."
    •  
      CommentAuthornigel
    • CommentTime3 days ago
     
    Your friend needs to find out what the new owners intentions are. It may be worthing trying to find out what other properties they own or have redeveloped to see what their normal modus operandi is.

    It may be that offering to terminate the lease early might induce a financial incentive.

    Lease renewals are complicated and by no means automatic, there are numerous grounds for a landlord to object to the issue of a new lease or the lease may be contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act where no right to renew exists. Depending on the length of time they have been in occupation they may have a right to compensation if the Landlord objects to a renewal.

    The solicitors advice is sound, stay put and wait for the landlord to make the next move.
    You need to be careful because if you vacate you are still bound by the lease and may then be forced to continue to pay the rent, the lease would need to be surrendered and correctly documented.
  4.  
    Hi,
    Moving any small independent business such as a hair salon, café, shoe shop etc can be a death knell unless it is literally next-door.

    A new premises would have to be fitted out if a suitable property couldn't be found. A move would also have legal expenses, your own plus the new landlords costs, which would be more than a few hundred quid.

    Any change in footfall would have to be considered.

    Business rates might be higher in a new place (or less) dependant of market rate based on footfall etc.

    A marketing spree would try to bring customers with you but customers are fickle and it could produce nothing and would cost again.

    To move and set up again would cost a lot of money.

    Imagine you are employee of a large prestigious company that wants to relocate staff, you can imagine the sort of relocation benefits package that would be offered, you'd need at least that sort of compensation package, and, at the end of the day it might not work out so you'd loose your livelihood.

    Granted not long on the lease. But ask for an awful lot to move on.
  5.  
    Perhaps what is key here is what is the hairdressers intention for Sept 2019. If it is give up the lease then probably go now for as much as she can get from the LL. If she wants to stay with a new lease then a whole different picture.

    If the tenant wants to stay then the help of a specialist agent will probably be needed (now) because after a referb of the place the LL will be looking for a (much) higher rent come the new lease and the agent (working for the tenant) will be looking at the complicated valuation of the floor area, comparables in the area and a bunch of other factors. Its not a game for amateurs. That said for commercial leases the bias is with the tenant (just IMO as a LL)

    I mentioned to look at the insurance policies because some LL have insurance for their liability if their tenant looses business due to the LL liability. The tenant also may have insurance to cover loss of business due to loss of premises.
  6.  
    Agree it depends on what OP wants long term. As with grievances and tribunals with employers the first and most important question the solicitor asks is do you want to stay or go, because that sets out two completely different strategies i.e. get a solution or get as much as you can.
    • CommentAuthorsam_cat
    • CommentTime2 days ago
     
    Can I suggest you/friend registers and posts over on forums.landlordzone.co.uk
    Great forum full of some real knowledge, and pretty much impartial. You will get good advice.
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