How To Evict A Commercial Tenant
If you are a landlord of commercial premises, and you want to evict your tenant, there are a few ways you can go about it.
Which one you choose will depend upon your reasons for evicting them, and the terms of the lease.
I’ve set out the various options below.
***PLEASE NOTE*** Temporary legislation is in place during the COVID-19 pandemic which may affect the ability to use one or more of the options below.
Forfeit During The Term – Rent Arrears
If the tenant is in arrears of rent you might be entitled to “forfeit” the lease – to bring it to an end – by a process known as “peaceable re-entry”.
This is a cheap and easy way to terminate the lease which essentially involves attaching a couple of notices to the property and changing the locks.
After this process the tenant won’t have any right to re-enter, and so they will effectively have been evicted.
There is a right to apply for relief, but it’s only likely to be granted if all of the rent arrears are paid, together with your legal costs.
Forfeit During The Term – Other Breaches
If your tenant has breached any other terms of the lease you can serve it with a section 146 notice under the Law of Property Act 1925.
If the tenant does not remedy the breach within a “reasonable time” you can then apply to court to forfeit the lease and for an order for possession to evict the tenant.
Serve A Break Notice
Some commercial leases give landlords the opportunity to serve a notice during the term to bring it to an end early.
They can be quite technical, and you usually only get one chance to do this, so making sure that it is validly drafted and validly served is vital.
You should always have your solicitor do this for you.
If a tenant fails to leave after expiry of a valid break notice they will be trespassing and you can then apply to court for a quick possession order to evict them.
Serve An “Opposed” Section 25 Notice – Protected Tenancies
If your tenant has the protection of Part II of the Landlord and tenant Act 1954 it is entitled to a new lease on expiry of its existing lease, or simply to remain in occupation and carry on its business.
In those circumstances, to get the tenant out, you will need to serve a “hostile notice” under section 25 of the Act specifying one or more of the seven grounds prescribed by it which entitle a landlord to oppose the grant of a new lease to the tenant.
The section 25 notice will bring the lease to an end, and if you can prove your ground of opposition, or if it is accepted by the tenant, a new lease will not be granted and they will have to leave.
The most common grounds relied upon by landlords using this method are an intention to redevelop the property, and an intention to occupy it themselves.
If the tenant has persistently delayed in paying the rent that can help also.
If the tenant doesn’t leave following expiry of this process they will be trespassing and you can apply to court to have them evicted.
At The End Of The Term – Unprotected Tenancies
If the lease is not protected by Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 your tenant will have to leave by the contractual expiry date (many leases are not protected by the 1954 Act).
If it doesn’t leave it will be trespassing and you will be entitled to make a quick application to court for a possession order to evict them.
Getting the order to evict the tenant should be straightforward, and if it still doesn’t leave you can get a court appointed officer to physically evict them and secure the premises for you.
What If There Is No Written Lease?
Where there is no agreement in writing the situation is a little more complicated, and the options available to the landlord will be dictated by the facts.
If this applies to you, I suggest that you read my article about it here.
Tenancy At Will – Serve A Notice To Terminate
If you have granted a tenant a short-term tenancy at will, you should be able to serve notice to terminate it with immediate effect (at your will).
If the tenant fails to leave straight away, as above you can then apply to court for a possession order to evict them.
Is It A Licence?
Sometimes landlords grant a licence to occupy space, rather than a lease of it.
Labelling a document a licence doesn’t necessarily make it a licence if the key ingredients of a lease are present, however if it is a true licence the licensee will have no further rights to occupy the premises after the expiry date of the licence.
If they do remain in occupation they will be trespassing and you can then apply to court for a possession order to evict them.
Evicting A Commercial Tenant – Conclusion
As you can see there are several ways to get to the point where you can evict a commercial tenant, and that choosing the correct option will depend on the facts.
If you need a hand with evicting a commercial tenant get in touch. I’d be happy to discuss it with you.
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