Landlords of commercial premises can find themselves in disputes with their tenant about whether the tenant may carry out alterations. Tenants might have been denied consent to carry out alterations and want to challenge that. We can advise landlords or tenants in this situation.
Whether consent is required for alterations will depend on the terms of the lease (and any superior lease) that deal with alterations. Some leases are silent about alterations, or they simply state that alterations are permitted. In that case, the tenant may carry out alterations without first requiring the landlord’s consent, subject to implied requirements not to “commit waste” or go beyond the boundaries of the demised premises.
More typically, a landlord will want to exercise some degree of control in order to ensure the value of their property is not reduced. From the tenant’s point of view however, they will be reluctant to take a lease of premises that they cannot fit out to suit their usage, especially where the lease term is long. To balance both of these needs, the lease will state that the tenant may do alterations with the landlord’s consent, which consent the landlord will not unreasonably withhold. We can advise either the landlord or the tenant on issues about withholding consent, what a court would deem reasonable, and what other expert evidence might be needed to be able to properly consider on an informed basis whether consent can be reasonably withheld, or to make your request for consent more persuasive, such as a surveyor’s report or report of a structural engineer. Even if the lease does not allow alterations in any circumstances, it may still be possible to negotiate consent and we can explore this.
Where proposed alterations class as improvements the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 provides that consent is not to be unreasonably withheld, and that a tenant may carry out improvements even if the lease does not permit it in some circumstances.
Where occasionally a settlement cannot be reached, court proceedings might be required. A declaration can be sought from the Court as to whether consent is being unreasonably withheld or an injunction for consent could be sought on the basis of a breach of contract by the landlord.