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Defective Break Notices

Landlord and Tenant Law

Tenants should exercise extreme caution when attempting to serve a break notice.

Although tenants may be in regular correspondence with their landlords concerning rent, service payment etc, when it comes to serving a valid break notice that it must be served strictly in accordance with the lease provisions.

Tenants should generally be aware of the following three common errors made by tenants when serving a break notice;

1. Serving the Notice on the wrong party!

In the case of Standard Life v W&J Linney a break notice was served on the former landlord and copied to the present landlord’s agent “for information” and this was held to be ineffective to determine the lease.

2. Serving it on the wrong address

The lease will often prescribe the address where the break notice must be sent and this should be strictly followed both in terms of the correct address and the method of service, for example to be sent by recorded delivery and not by electronic mail.

3. Not giving full vacant possession.

Often there are conditions attached to a break right in the lease. If the lease provides that the Tenant must give vacant possession, then not only must the tenant cease occupying the Property on or before the relevant break date but also due to the wider legal interpretation of ‘vacant possession’ should remove all its goods and rubbish from the property. Effectively the property should be made available at the relevant break date so the Landlord can physically and legally enjoy it and failure to give vacant possession will render the break notice ineffective.

The validity of break notices is a highly contentious area of law, and it is advisable for tenants to take legal advice at the earliest opportunity. If a break notice has already been served, but the tenant doubts its validity then they should speak to a legal advisor without delay as in certain limited circumstances potentially defective break notices can be ‘rescued’.

For specialist advice on Commercial Property law, please contact Kimat Singh.