Commercial property disputes
Commercial property disputes can be protracted and costly, so seeking advice early from a specialist litigation lawyer can be essential to minimise any negative impact on your business.
Our experienced litigation solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with commercial property disputes for a range of clients. We work with large property developers and investors through to individual owners and tenants.
We regularly act in disputes relating to business lease renewals, rent reviews, break notices, breaches of covenant and insolvency. We can also advise you if you’re applying for or responding to notices for extensions, or if you’re applying to terminate them under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954.
If your tenant is in rent arrears, we can help you to recover the sums due. This may include serving a notice or rent demand on the tenant or bringing a claim in the courts.
We know that as a landlord you often have to strike a fine balance between your commercial interests and the demands of your tenants. Our commercial property dispute resolution team offer friendly, pragmatic legal advice to help you protect your business interests while maintaining positive relationships with tenants and avoiding damage to your reputation.
Get in touch with our commercial property dispute resolution solicitors in Bristol
To speak to our specialist commercial property dispute lawyers in Bristol, contact us on 0117 905 9785 or complete our online enquiry form.
Our commercial property dispute resolution services
We work with both landlords and tenants of commercial property in Bristol, throughout the South West and nationwide. Our commercial property disputes team can help with a wide range of issues, helping you find the right way forward for your business.
Dilapidations + repairs
If part of the property is in disrepair, it’s important to ascertain who’s responsible for the repairs – the landlord or the tenant. Whilst we’ll advise on repairs throughout the lease, it’s most important at the end of the contract when the landlord may claim for dilapidations.
Service charge disputes
A service charge is often the subject of dispute between a commercial landlord and tenant. We’ll advise you on the operation of the charge clauses within your lease and assist in resolving any disputes that arise.
Assignments + sub-lettings
If you’re concerned about your tenant assigning the lease or sub-letting all or part of your property, we can talk you through the possible implications. We can also advise you on the circumstances in which you can withhold consent or give consent with conditions placed on the tenant.
If you’re a tenant who wants to sub-let but you’re unsure of your rights and obligations, we can help you. We’ll advise you on the steps you’ll need to take with your landlord and the conditions you may have to agree to in order to obtain their consent. We’ll also talk you through any obligations you may have after the assignment or sub-letting has taken place.
If your tenant is in breach of their obligations, it’s possible for you – as the landlord – to enter the property and forfeit the lease. However this is an area of law which is fraught with pitfalls.
We’re specialists in all issues surrounding forfeiture. We can advise you on any pre-conditions affecting the right to forfeit, rent deposits, serving notice on a commercial tenant and the possible implications of forfeiture on guarantors or sub-tenants.
Should the lease provide a break, either for the landlord, client or both, we can advise you on the correct procedures that need to be followed to bring the lease to an early end.
We offer advice on the correct procedure for applying for or responding to notices for extensions of leases or applying to terminate them under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Security of tenure is a key issue in commercial property and early advice is crucial in ensuring the best outcome.
Commercial property disputes FAQs
Why do you need a solicitor for a commercial lease?
A solicitor has the expertise and experience to make sure the lease is fair and that both landlord and tenants are clear about their responsibilities. Commercial leases are often long and highly detailed, so it is easy for the parties to miss or misunderstand key details, making it much more likely that disputes will arise later.
While paying for a solicitor to draft or review a commercial lease may require a certain upfront cost, it can save you a significant amount of money over the lifetime of the lease by helping you to avoid unnecessary disputes later.
How do I renew my commercial lease?
This will depend on the terms of your lease, in particular whether the lease is covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 or is expressly excluded from the Act.
If the lease is covered by the Act, you will usually have a statutory right to renew the lease. If you do not renew by the time the lease term ends, the lease will automatically continue on the existing terms.
If the lease is not covered by the Act, you will have no automatic right to renew, unless there is specific provision for this in the terms of the lease.
If a tenant fails to pay their rent, this is clear grounds for a landlord to terminate the lease. It is good practice to include a ‘forfeiture clause’ in the lease agreement to cover how this will be dealt with.
Depending on the terms of the lease agreement, you may be able to immediately terminate the lease when a tenant fails to repay, however, in practice there is often some negotiation with the tenant to attempt to resolve the situation first.
How can you regain vacant possession of a commercial property?
There are two main ways to regain vacant possession of a commercial property:
Peaceable re-entry – This involves you re-entering the property and excluding the tenant from it e.g. by changing the locks. This is usually the fastest, least expensive way to regain vacant possession, however it can be problematic if the tenant is physically present in the property. This option is also not allowed where the tenant is living in any part of the property.
Court proceedings – If the vacant possession cannot be achieved through peaceable re-entry, you may need to initiate possession proceedings. We can advise you on how this process works and deal with all of the necessary documentation and court procedures.
How do I dispute a service charge?
Any service charges the tenant is liable to pay to the leaseholder should be clearly stated in the lease, this includes regular service charges e.g. for general maintenance of the property, as well as where one-off charges may be levied e.g. for necessary repairs.
To dispute a service charge, you will need to show that there has been some failing in the service provided by the landlord, or in the calculation of invoicing for the charge.
The first step in disputing a service charge is to write to your landlord explaining that you are disputing the charge and your grounds for doing so. It is normal to have your solicitor draft this for you to ensure all of the right details are included and that your legal case is clearly set out.
If this does not achieve the desired outcome, you will need to make a formal complaint. Your landlord or their agents may have a formal complaints procedure, which can often allow disputes to be resolved without the need for further action.
If you still cannot agree a solution, you may need to apply for a First Tier Tribunal (FTT) known as a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. You will then need to attend a hearing where both sides can make their cases and the Tribunal will decide whether the service charge in question is fair or whether your complaint should be upheld.
How do you exercise a break clause?
If your lease agreement includes a break clause, allowing the lease to be terminated early, you will need to follow the terms of the break clause exactly to end the lease.
It is important to take advice from a solicitor before exercising as break clause as failing to understand exactly what is required can result in unnecessary delays and expense.
How do you know who is responsible for upkeep of a leased property?
This will entirely depend on the terms of the lease, however, it is normal for the tenant to be responsible for upkeep of the interior of the property and the landlord to be responsible for the exterior.
Our commercial property dispute resolution expertise
We understand that every business and every dispute is unique, so we take a personal, tailored approach to working with you. We will take the time to understand the issues you are facing, your concerns and your business goals, then find the perfect solution to match your needs.
With decades of experience across the team, we offer seasoned legal expertise and a creative mindset, meaning we can find the most effective ways to resolve even the most complex and contentious commercial property disputes.
We work with businesses nationwide, providing a modern, accessible service, so you can access our legal expertise quickly and simply from wherever you are in the country.
We place a strong emphasis on good communication and are committed to providing exceptional customer service to every client. As a result, we have a very high client retention rate and over 70% of our business comes via referrals from existing clients.
We are Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for the high standards of our client care and practice management.
See what our clients say about us by taking a look at our client testimonials.
Contact our commercial property disputes lawyers in Bristol
Need help resolving a property dispute affecting your business? Get in touch with our specialist commercial property dispute resolution solicitors in Bristol by calling 0117 905 9785 or you can request a call back.