Landlord and tenant disputes

Property disputes can be both disruptive and time-consuming.  We can assist anyone involved in disputes over property, whether commercial or residential.  Our considerable experience enables us to advise clients, both landlords and tenants, on the most practical solution of resolving a dispute.  Alternative dispute resolution is considered where appropriate through mediation and negotiation to help avoid the need for potentially expensive court or tribunal action.

If litigation cannot be avoided, we are able to issue proceedings, even in complex cases, at very short notice.

We can assist with all types of commercial and residential property matters, including but not limited to some of the following: 

Business lease renewals

Many business tenancies have statutory protection under Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 if they have not contracted out of the Act by agreement.  Where it applies, the 1954 Act affords security of tenure to business tenants so that a lease of commercial premises does not come to an end on the expiry of the contractual term but continues until terminated in accordance with the provisions of the 1954 Act.

The terms of business lease renewals are usually negotiated between the landlord and tenant following the service of a Landlord’s section 25 Notice or a Tenant’s section 26 Notice.  Occasionally, as a landlord, you may seek to rely on fairly limited statutory grounds to challenge a tenant’s request for a new business tenancy.  The most usual grounds relied upon are that you intend to develop the building or intend to reoccupy the premises.

We regularly advise both landlords and tenants on the strategic time for serving a statutory notice. If the decision is taken by the tenant to vacate the premises, we can advise on negotiating terms for new premises and, where appropriate, dilapidations.

Dilapidations and other breaches of covenant: Advice for tenants

The term 'dilapidations' refers to breaches of lease covenants that relate to the condition of the property, and the process of remedying those breaches.  Dilapidations disputes can end in Court so it is important that as a tenant you protect your position when entering into a new business lease, in the event that your landlord commences proceedings.

If you are vacating the premises at the end of the contractual term or when exercising a break notice, you should ensure you have complied with all your obligations under your Lease and yield up the premises in the appropriate condition.  You should consider any licences for alterations and whether your landlord requires them to reinstate the alterations that have been made.  If the dilapidations works are not completed before the end of the lease term, then the landlord can claim damages from you to recompense them for your breach of covenant and the cost of those works, including compensation for loss of rent and service charges.

In this situation, your landlord will usually serve you with a Schedule of Dilapidations and a Quantified Demand.  Your landlord will likely endorse the Schedule to confirm that it is reasonable and reflects their intentions for the building.  You should respond to the Schedule of Dilapidations and/or Quantified Demand within about 56 days of receipt.  The Court’s Dilapidations Protocol states that both you and your landlord should consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in dilapidations cases.

If proceedings are issued, you may be advised to make offers to settle at various stages and should consider such advice carefully.  Early advice should be obtained from a solicitor and surveyor, and this is an area we can advise you on.

Forfeiture and applications for relief: Advice for landlords

Forfeiture brings the lease to an end and in order to forfeit the lease, the following must be satisfied:

  • There must be an express provision within the lease providing for forfeiture on the tenant’s breach of covenant
  • The tenant must have breached the lease and triggered the right to forfeit
  • The landlord must have taken the appropriate procedural steps
  • The landlord must not have waived the right to forfeit
  • The tenant must either fail to apply for or be refused relief from forfeiture

If you are seeking to forfeit a lease for non-payment of rent from your tenant, you may be able to enter the premises by peaceful re-entry and changing the locks, more often than not in the early hours of the morning.  Caution should be exercised when effecting peaceable re-entry and should never be used where any part of the property is residential.

For all other breaches of covenant, you must serve a section 146 notice before forfeiture can take place and possession proceedings will need to be issued.  The Law of Property Act 1925 provides that a s.146 notice must specify the breach complained of and require your tenant to remedy the breach within a reasonable time (if it is capable of being remedied).  Your tenant is also required to pay you compensation for the breach.  There are additional requirements in certain disrepair cases, which we can advise on.

Forfeiture may not be the only remedy available to you.  We can advise on other options including damages, entry to the premises to carry out the work and recovery of the cost as a debt; and specific performance.

Leasehold enfranchisement: Advice for tenants

Whether you wish to extend the term of your long residential lease, or there are two or more flats in the building and you wish to purchase the freehold together, we can advise on the procedure for leasehold enfranchisement or extensions.

Rent and service charge recovery for commercial properties: Advice for landlords

Under the terms of a business lease, rent is reserved and payable on a periodic basis from your tenant.  This can either be monthly or payable on the ‘usual quarter days’ i.e. 25 March (Lady Day), 24 June (Midsummer Day), 29 September (Michaelmas) and 25 December (Christmas).

Where rent is not paid, as the landlord, you may be able to forfeit the lease or seek to recover the arrears as a debt.  Under an ‘old’ lease which has subsequently been assigned (i.e. the lease has been transferred to a third party by the tenant), it may also be possible to pursue the original tenant, any former assignee that has given a direct covenant to the landlord, guarantors or sureties of the original tenant or former assignee that may still be liable.  Under a ‘new’ lease, if the assignor of the lease to the current tenant entered into an authorised guarantee agreement (AGA) they may also be liable for the current tenant’s rent arrears, as well as potentially any guarantor of such an assignor.

As the landlord, you must comply with section 17 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 and serve the prescribed notice within six months’ of the sum falling due.  If the original tenant pays all the arrears and interest, they may have a right of indemnity from the assignee, or in certain circumstances, ask you for an overriding lease.

If you are seeking payment from a commercial tenant, we can advise you on the appropriate course of action.

Rent and service charge recovery for residential properties: Advice for landlords

Tenants occupying under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (or in some cases Assured or Rent Act tenancies) will be required to pay rent on a periodic basis, usually weekly or monthly.  If your tenant has not made these payments, you may be able to recover the rent arrears either through possession proceedings or as a debt.

Residential leaseholders will usually have to pay ground rent and service charges as defined in their lease.  Where ground rent is not paid to you by the tenant, you may be able to forfeit the lease or seek to recover the arrears as a debt.  Service charges are made in addition to ground rent to cover services, repairs, maintenance, insurance, improvements or costs of management and the amount may vary according to the costs incurred or to be incurred.  You must ensure these service charges are reasonable, as well as the administration fees; if they are considered to be unreasonable in amount or unreasonably incurred, your tenant may challenge these costs in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).

As a landlord you may, from time to time, need to carry out ‘works on a building or other premises’ – that is works of repair, maintenance or improvement; or enter into qualifying long-term agreements with a wholly independent organisation or contractor for a period of more than 12 months.  Detailed regulations were produced under section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended by s.151 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002) which set out the precise procedures you must follow, including sending consultation notices both to individual leaseholders and to any recognised tenants association.  This must be done before the works begin.

If you fail to comply with the section 20 statutory procedure and do not consult with the leaseholders who are required to contribute to the cost of the works under the terms of their leases, you may only be able to recover £250 of the costs from each leaseholder.

If you are seeking payment of rent, ground rent or service charges from residential tenants, we can help advise on the most appropriate course of action for you.

Residential possession actions, including rent arrears and mortgaged property: Advice for landlords

Whether you simply want to recover your property because you want to live in it yourself, you want to sell it or for any other reason, or where your tenant is not paying the rent or complying with other terms of the tenancy, we can advise all types of landlords on their options, how to recover possession and tell you how long it will take.  We offer fixed fees so you know how much it will cost and where possible, we will seek to recover your legal costs from the tenant.

Residential possession actions, including rent arrears and mortgaged property: Advice for tenants

Whether you have received a section 21 or section 8 notice, we can advise on its validity and suggest ways on how you might want to defend subsequent possession proceedings.  If you have paid a deposit and your landlord has not protected it, or you think the landlord has issued a notice to quit on you as a retaliation for you reporting a problem with the property, we team can advise on your options.

Tenancy Disputes

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, we can help with disputes between you and can often make the relationship an easier one.  Where we cannot, or where the issues have gone beyond resolution, we can help landlords obtain possession of their property or seek to enforce the landlord and tenant covenants in the tenancy agreement against the other party.

We can offer advice on the following areas of dispute between landlords and tenants:

  • Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements
  • Protected and Rent Act tenancies
  • Repossessions
  • Rent arrears
  • Rent Deposit Schemes
  • Anti-social behaviour, nuisance and noise
  • Repair
  • Injunctions
  • Contracts with managing agents
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme

From 1 December 2016, a landlord or agent will have committed a criminal offence where they know or have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that any property they are letting is occupied by someone who is disqualified from residing in the UK, regardless of when the tenancy was granted. 

We do not undertake publicly funded housing matters.


For any advice on the potential disputes that can arise as detailed above, you can contact Helen Porter on 023 8071 7425 or by email at helenporter@warnergoodman.co.uk.

For general Litigation or Dispute Resolution enquiries, contact the team on 023 8071 7412. 

To speak to one of our experts please call us

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