Hard hit businesses are being dealt a double blow by their landlords, according to property expert Amy Cusworth, from Oxley & Coward Solicitors.
The warning follows a court ruling that tenants could not take advantage of a break clause to end a lease because they had not complied with the small print on interest payments for late rent.
Amy Cusworth says that in a recent case a tenant was told they could not activate a break clause on a £67,500 a year lease because they owed £130 in interest payments – even though their landlord had never asked for the money.
“This case may seem harsh, but despite break clauses becoming more common, the right to end a lease early remains a privilege, so any conditions must be satisfied to the letter,” said Ms Cusworth.
“When negotiating terms with a landlord, it’s vital for a tenant to be sure that they are going to be able to comply with all the conditions. All too often we see a lease where the landlord goes for a general catch-all clause that is almost impossible to meet, as compliance could fall down over something as trivial as a piece of sticky tape left on a wall.
“In a climate where landlords want to hold on to tenants, planning for break clauses needs careful thought - even before the lease is entered into.”
Amy Cusworth says most tenants don’t realise is that it is their responsibility to make sure they have strictly complied with all the conditions of a lease and they cannot assume all is well just because the landlord has said nothing.