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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7509
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hi, I have a commercial tenant who has been in occupation for

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Hi, I have a commercial tenant who has been in occupation for over 12 months. We were negotiating a 20 year lease but it never completed. My tenant now wants to assign the lease to somebody new - I don't want them to. Do I have to allow them to assign the lease or can I ask the tenants to leave and find my own new tenant?

When you gave them occupation did you agree any terms relating to the period that they were to have occupation before you were to execute the lease?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

just the term of the lease. we both had solicitors but the tenant refused to sign and return the lease to his solicitor. I think it was because they didn't want to pay his bill.


Could you clarify please:

When the tenant physically occupied the property did you say that it was not for a fixed term and simply - perhaps - "on licence" of as a "tenancy at will"


Did you agree a fixed term or any other terms?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i live above the premises and used to run a small newsagents below. i wanted to retire and the tenants (friends) asked if they could take over the newsagents. i let them take occupation straight away and we agreed that they would take a 20 year lease (which they wanted).


Thanks for your patience.

It was not a great move letting them have occupation.

If you let them have occupation on the basis that you would subsequently agree the term of the lease (ie. Rent, rent review, assignment conditions, break clauses etc) then I would expect they would be regarded as having either:-
1) A tenancy at will – in which case either party can terminate the agreement on immediate notice to the other
2) Periodic Tenancy – this can happen where you allow a person occupation but have agreed broad terms for a lease that you will then subsequently execute but at the time of occupation it is “subject to “lease (ie. Subject to the lease that you will execute. This arises under case law as does a tenancy at will.

Given that you had agreed the term of the written lease would be 20 years I would suggest that you play it safe and state to them that you regard it as a periodic tenancy.

I doubt they could claim that it was a 20 year lease that they presently have because if the length of the proposed lease is greater than 3 years then it must be in writing: s52(1) Law of Property Act

If you wish to evict someone under a periodic tenancy then you must give them one week’s notice if they pay their rent weekly OR one months’ notice if they pay their rent monthly and such notice must expire at the end of a rent period.

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