Commercial Property Disputes Solicitors
Commercial property disputes can be prolonged and costly. Seeking advice early from a specialist disputes 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, and individual owners and tenants.
We regularly act in disputes relating to all aspects of commercial premises. In commercial property dispute matters, we can assist with ownership, easements, trespass and restrictive covenant disputes. With commercial landlord and tenant matters, we advise on terminating your business lease, seeking a business lease renewal, rent reviews, break notices and breaches of covenant.
Additionally, 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 forfeiting the lease which may include bringing a claim in the courts.
Our commercial property dispute team offer 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 solicitors in Bristol
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.
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 and 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, tenant 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 or renew 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
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.
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.
This is dependent on your lease and whether the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. If the lease is included within the scope of the Act, possession can only be sought, at the end of the fixed term on specific grounds. If not within the Act, possession can be sought at the end of the fixed term, however the necessary provision under your lease must be met.
However, depending on the terms of the lease agreement, you may be able to immediately terminate the lease if either party is in breach of the lease. This is not straightforward and legal advice should be sought.
Where there is a breach, subject to the terms of the individual lease, 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. A notice may need to be served first, therefore advice should always be sought before taking action. We are able to assist you with this.
- Court proceedings – If the vacant possession cannot be achieved through peaceable re-entry, you may need to initiate possession proceedings. This is usually the advisable and preferable option. We can advise you on how this process works and deal with all of the necessary documentation and court procedures.
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. As a landlord, you may need to respond to a tenant’s query in relation to service charge.
Separately, there are also statutory procedures which apply to service charge, in addition to the terms of a lease. All parties will need to ensure these procedures have been met, where applicable.
The first step in disputing a service charge is to write to your landlord or respond to your tenant explaining that you are disputing the charge and your grounds for doing so or explaining the calculation behind the charges disputed. 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, a tenant may wishto 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 or County Court. 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. We can assist both claimants / applicants and defendants/ respondents in these types of matters.
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 or missing the opportunity to break your lease.
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.
Our commercial property dispute lawyers 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.
Our solicitors are Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for the high standards of our client care and practice management.
Contact our commercial property disputes lawyers in Bristol
Need help resolving a property dispute affecting your business? Our team works with clients all over the UK, from our offices across Bristol and the surrounding area in Bedminster, Bishopston, Kingswood, Queen Square and Thornbury.