Letting Agreements:

Most lease agreements include covenants, which are deals with tenants that can be tailored to meet the requirements of landlords. For example, a residential tenancy agreement could contain a covenant which prevents the tenant from using the property for business purposes, or perhaps detail a requirement for the tenant to maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair.

In situations where breach of covenant occurs, landlords can legally enforce these obligations through the UK’s court system. The ability to pursue enforcement of lease covenants differs between residential properties and commercial premises, however, it’s also important that any landlord ensures no implicit waiver of lease covenants takes place throughout the period of tenancy.

Enforcing requirements of lease covenants

The main enforcement remedies available to landlords include:
– Forfeiture
– Specific performance
– Injunction

About forfeiture

Where landlords claim forfeiture for breach of lease covenants, it will be necessary to confirm whether or not these breaches can be remedied. In most cases, the courts don’t consider breaches of repair, or those relating to the use or sharing of the premises as irremediable. However, if a tenant breaks a covenant relating to assignation or sub-leasing or is using the property in an illegal manner, the cases are always upheld in court.

When remediable cases are taken to court, the landlord needs to serve the tenant with a Section 146 Notice, except in the case of non-payment of rent due. You can find out more about Section 146 Notices and how these relate to the Law of Property Act 1925 on the UK government’s website (insert link: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/15-16/20/section/146).

For commercial tenancies

Where Section 146 Notices are issued it is important to allow tenants a reasonable amount of time to remedy the breach of the lease covenant. With regard to commercial leases, once this time period has elapsed the landlord can legally and peaceably regain access to the premises or begin court proceedings to evict the tenant.

A peaceable re-entry to premises is the most cost-effective way forward. In these circumstances, the landlord can enter the premises, using force if needed, and change the locks, while also leaving a written notice that the tenancy has come to an end. In these circumstances, it is essential for landlords to ensure no people or property still remain in the premises.

It is illegal for landlords to access properties and change locks if somebody is present who has an objection to this forfeiture. Also, where tenants have left property in the premises, the landlord will have a legal responsibility for ensuring its safekeeping until the tenant collects it.

Regarding residential tenancies

When it comes to residential tenancies, landlords are not allowed to use the peaceable re-entry mode for recovery of possessions unless it is very clearly apparent that the tenant has left the property and does not plan to return. It is really only acceptable for landlords to use court proceedings to regain possession of the property.

What is relief from forfeiture?

If a successful relief from forfeiture is achieved by the tenant, the lease will be reinstated under all terms applicable prior to the allegation of any breach. Relief is awarded by County Courts or High Courts.

So what is specific performance?

When landlords go down the specific performance route, this relates to court action that will make an order for the tenant to conform with all covenants. The landlord will need to prove the existence of the covenant and this is an equitable remedy. 

Injunction

Injunctions are court orders which can prevent tenants from either commencing or continuing with certain types of conduct. This is the most common court action taken by landlords. 

Is it possible to claim damages?

It is possible for courts to award damages to landlords where agreed covenants have been breached. 

You can find out more about the legal implications of being a landlord and property leasing news on the LandlordZONE website (insert link: 
https://www.landlordzone.co.uk/category/information/case-law Alternatively, get in touch with the experts at Myerson Solicitors to seek professional support and advice.

©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.
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