Prior to Christmas the Supreme Court delivered a judgment which will have relieved tenants who could be faced by a landlord seeking any means to lever them out from their premises.
The facts of the case were that the tenant occupied the ground floor and basement premises at 80 Jermyn Street, London under two underleases which benefited from security of tenure. The landlord was also an occupier of adjoining premises as well as floors above the tenant's premises.
The landlord was short of grounds to bring the tenancy to an end without being required to offer a new lease. The landlord was left with and sought to utilise section 30(1)(f) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 which permits termination without renewal where the Landlord intends to carry out substantial work of construction and could not do so without obtaining possession.
In the lower courts the landlord had managed to successfully argue that the proposed works fulfilled the necessary criteria even though the landlord had declared that they would not have been carried out were the tenant to have vacated voluntarily. In essence the courts were satisfied by there purely being a settled intention to carry out the works. It was immaterial that the works would make the premises unusable and that they were solely being carried out for the purposes of satisfying ground (f).
On appeal to the Supreme Court the 'charade' as the tenant saw it came to the fore. It was decided that the tenant's occupation was not obstructing the works because it would not be doing the works; the landlord's intention to carry out the works must exist independently of the tenant's statutory claim to a new tenancy. In this case if the tenant had left voluntarily the works would not have been carried out.
The benefit for a tenant caught in this situation is that it can offer a stronger challenge against any landlord seeking to rely upon ground (f). Prior to the judgment a settled intention to carry out the works would suffice but now the landlord will need to prove that: either they would not be able to do the works unless the tenant vacated; or that the works would be done whether or not the tenant were there under a protected tenancy.
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