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Can a Change in the Running of Your Business Breach Your Lease?

Can a Change in the Running of Your Business Breach Your Lease?
October 21, 2020 Lauren Smith

Empty cafe or restaurant with bar stools and barFor many business owners 2020 has been a challenging year.  However, there are a large number of businesses that have been able to adapt and tailor their services to enable them to continue trading throughout the pandemic, albeit it in different ways. We have all seen the restaurants that have suddenly started to offer consumers the option to purchase fresh produce – providing people with a DIY opportunity to make their favourite restaurant dishes – or the beauty salons that are instead offering various products for sale instead of providing beauty treatments.

All of these innovative ways in which business owners are attempting to push through the pandemic are entrepreneurial and often inspiring.  You cannot, however, ignore the legal implications of these changes and what impact they may have on commercial landlord and tenants.

Often a commercial lease will contain various clauses setting out specifically what the property can be used for and what type of business can be run from it. Whilst it may not seem too much of an issue to a tenant to go from providing hot meals in a restaurant setting to providing the opportunity for the public to purchase ingredients in the style of a farm shop, such a change could in certain circumstances actually result in the tenant being in breach of the terms of the lease, perhaps without them even being aware that they are in breach.

It comes as no surprise that if a tenant is to be found in breach of their obligations under the lease their landlord may be able to take action, which – at its most severe – could include seeking possession of the property and terminating the lease. Whilst there are current restrictions in place on seeking possession of a commercial property based on rent arrears, this does not appear to apply to other breaches of the lease.

The expert lawyers in the Dispute Resolution team at Enoch Evans LLP have a wealth of experience Lauren Smith, Civil Litigation Solicitor, Enoch Evans LLPadvising upon commercial lease disputes. The team are based in Walsall and Sutton Coldfield and will be able to provide you with expert advice and outline all of the available options to you in your particular circumstances. If you are a commercial landlord or commercial tenant and you require any further advice please contact Lauren Smith on 01922 707048 or lrs@enoch-evans.co.uk