Successful resolution of a dispute between a landlord and a restaurant concerning noise
Our client landlord owned a block with commercial units on the ground floor and residential flats on the two upper floors.
One of the tenants on the ground floor was a restaurant. However it was only a restaurant for the first part of the evening. Once dinner had been served the tables were cleared and it turned into a nightclub. The resultant noise caused a disturbance to the leaseholders in the flats above. The leaseholders complained to both the landlord and the Environmental Health Department of the local authority.
- The matter was complicated by a number of factors:
- The legal definition of both a restaurant and nightclub
- Potential action by the Environmental Health Department
- The practical difficulties of obtaining accurate noise readings
We obtained an emergency injunction to prevent the restaurant playing loud music late in the evening. This provided some respite to the leaseholders but was contested by the restaurant and so the matter proceeded to trial. Despite obstruction from the restaurant we were able to arrange for secret sound recordings to be taken by an acoustic expert.
At the trial six months later, the High Court concluded that the restaurant had been playing loud music in breach of the original injunction. The court therefore made a permanent injunction in these terms. This affected the commercial viability of the restaurant and it closed some months later.
Recovery of rent arrears from a commercial tenant
Our client landlord let four commercial units to a tenant who sublet them at a substantial profit.
The tenant consistently refused to pay his rent and service charges when they fell due. The arrears built up substantially, at which point we took legal action.
Over the course of a year we pursued the tenant in six separate actions (including debt, insolvency and forfeiture proceedings) and recovered all the arrears and interest.
Considerable legal costs had been incurred by this point. However the leases contained a comprehensive costs recovery clause which required the tenant to pay all the landlord’s costs in dealing with any breaches of covenant including the recovery or attempted recovery of arrears. This wording allowed the landlord to recover its legal costs regardless of both the sum in dispute and the costs awarded in any court action.
A final claim was therefore brought to recover legal costs under the cost recovery clause in the leases. Following a mediation, our client landlord successfully recovered 90% of its legal costs as well as all the arrears and interest.
Tactical Use of the Rules Produced Rental and Capital Uplift of Property’s Value
Our client landlord owned the freehold of a convenience store let to major supermarket. The lease came up for renewal but it was protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 which meant that the supermarket was entitled to a new lease on market terms.
However there is a ground under the 1954 Act her under which the landlord can refuse to grant a new tenancy if it wishes to re-occupy the property for the purposes of a business. Working closely with the landord’s surveyor, we used this ground to our client’s advantage.
The landlord was a retailer so a case was made that the property was required for the purposes of the landlord’s business. In addition the landlord also put forward a case that it intended to run a franchise operation from the property with one of the tenant supermarket’s competitors.
The tenant supermarket did not like either of these options. After without prejudice discussions a deal was done whereby the tenant supermarket stayed in the property but at double the rent it was paying previously.
A doubling of the rent also equated to a doubling of the capital value of the property – a great result for our client landlord.