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wingrovebuyer
wingrovebuyer, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 656
Experience:  I am a property solicitor specialising in English Property Law, mines and minerals, sporting rights and rural property.
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I rent rooms from a Charity Hall for a Kindergarten

Customer Question

I rent rooms from a Charity Hall and run a Kindergarten and the Chair of the Charity is saying she will increase my rent by 100% can she do that? I pay about £5K a year and this will now be £10K. I have a license agreement it has expired and I have a letter showing the rates until January 2015 the Kindergarten has been in the rooms for 45 years I have had it for 15 years.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 1 year ago.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. Is there any written lease or licence?
Customer:

Yes but it has expired

Customer:

I could scan a copy but it ran out some years ago there are a few letters on the rates one of whihv is current and says the rate will stay the same until 2015 Jan

wingrovebuyer : When did it expire please?
wingrovebuyer : Was this the original agreement from 45 years ago?
Customer:

24th September 2008

Customer:

The agreement was dated 24th September 2001 for 7 years

Customer:

The most recent letter on rates was dated September 2012 and said the rate would run from January 2013 for 2 years. I wonder if I have rights or if the trustees can do as they wish.

Customer:

The Chairman has sent a few letters which are contradictory in nature on the price of the rooms per session.

wingrovebuyer : It's difficult to form a firm view on this without knowing the exact terms of the document, but if you have exclusive possession and pay rent, and you occupy the rooms in pursuit of a business, it is possible you have a business tenancy with statutory protection from arbitrary rent increases. However, do you occupy the rooms exclusively, or are they only available to you at certain times / days and also used by others?
Customer:

The latter at certain times of the day and they are used by others (though 1 room is much more permanent) I use them in term time from 0830 to 1230 or 0830 to 1500 for one room. I use 3 rooms 33 weeks of the year.

Customer:

I would guess I am outside the Landlord and Tenants Act but the length of occupation and the nature of the relationship may alter that somewhat. Also the Chairman of the Charity seems to be pretty unconventional and her letters are pretty in consistent on price and she is asking for ke to take down wall hanging

Customer:

The wall hangings have been changed but have always been a part of the fixtures and the Nursery has the same name as the Hall it is rated Outstanding in all area by Ofsted

wingrovebuyer : Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX agree that you are probably outside the scope of the LTA if only on the basis that you don't have exclusive occupation, however if that is because you allow other users to use the rooms, you may fall back within the scope of the act.
Customer:

No sadly the Hall allows others to use the rooms but during our periods ie the 33 weeks we have uninterrupted use and the doors as you might expect are securitised (not a real word)

wingrovebuyer : In any event, if your agreement has expired and you're not protected by the act, I'd say the charity does have the right to unilaterally seek to increase the rent I'm afraid. However, you may have an argument in that you were given an expectation as to the rent up to 2015, and continued occupying n that basis, effectively creating a new unwritten licence with the licence fee set to 2015.
wingrovebuyer : I think that argument is a reasonable one, so it's worth trying.
wingrovebuyer : I suggest you put the letters to the chairman, saying they form the basis of the new licence.
Customer:

so such letters that are written do not really have a contractual bearing or that contractual statement is open to question?

wingrovebuyer : Ie a term to 2015 with rent agreed until then. Accordingly, you say, she can't increase the rent because it was agreed.
wingrovebuyer : As there is now no written agreement, a court would look for other evidence of the licence terms. These letters would be good evidence of the original terms you both agreed, and any unilateral changes would not be effective. That's what you'd argue.
Customer:

Is there any arbitration that can come into play or can the rent be altered quite dramatically if she chooses

wingrovebuyer : You can only go to arbitration if that is the agreed dispute resolution route. I'd say she can't increase the rent now, but they can do as they please after the 2015 expiry of this new unwritten licence. If you can't agree terms, you would probably have to relocate.
Customer:

A highly rated Kindergarten trading for 45 years in the Hall and we would have to move out can we not challenge the basis of the Trust which was set up for the Local Community not necessarily to run Wrestling or such things. The Benefactor was a philanthropic individual who gave the Hall to the Community and simply the Trustees want to use it as a Wedding venue but in my view will not get any daytime trade for the times we use it and we are almost famous in the town based on our name and location.

wingrovebuyer : I take your point entirely, but I doubt the trustees are bound in that way. They will likely be obliged to get "best value" frm the hall, and perhaps you can argue that means your kindergarten, as a well established mainstay of the community.
Customer:

Also have we established the way we use the Hall over the 45 years with furniture and display boards and coat hangers etc.. or can the Hall trust change that too and to make it look more wedding like remove such school based trappings. Maybe we should go to the press? What role does the Trust Clerk have is he an executive position like on a Parish Council.

Customer:

In short though our rights are limited can we assess if the charity is following its constitution and also can I attend Trust meetings or do I have to be invited? I think the Chairman has gone somewhat maverick and is riling up many of the licensees but I think also they are short of cash having repaired the roof recently. They do get s stream of cash from alms houses though.

wingrovebuyer : I can't really comment on all that as i really haven't sufficient details. However, despite not having fully exclusive occupation, all of this may add up to your actually having a protected business teanncy after all. It seems the hall is almost synonymous with your business, which may "overcome" the exclusivity issue. When you bought the business, did a solicitor act for you?
Customer:

Sadly no it was a quick cash purchase as the last person left to look after her husband but it was done some 15 years ago now. You are right with the synonymous comment and... we have traded as an iconic Kindergarten in the twin for so long always there. The Hall is only 100 years old (1908 actually) and we have been there for 45 of them. Seeing you are in Minerals do you know Ashton Keynes?

Customer:

sorry town not twin!

wingrovebuyer : Ok, well why not argue that you have a protected tenancy? The charity may not be inclined to argue and it would protect you and the business. At present, without any secure or other lease in place, the business may have limited value. It may be that the charity doesn't argue, and you end upon a much better position.
wingrovebuyer : No, I'm not familiar with the town. just googled it, and it looks nice.
Customer:

Actually we are not there we are in Cirencester but Wingrove is a name from the village Ashton Keynes our Kindergarten is called Bing Kinder ham Garten I have split it to avoid google but Bing Hall Ham is the name of the hall and the benefactor is Daniel George and the B Hall trust is the trust.

Customer:

It appears there has been a school associated with the hall since 1908 so actually it IS likely we may have a very strong association however the trust is a laudable one and we do not want to profit from that just have a fair deal. My wife will sell one day and the stronger the foundation the better the Kindergarten is now a LTD business.

Customer:

Am I allowed to go to Trust meetings are they public bodies?

wingrovebuyer : I would think the trust is private, so you'd need to be invited to their meetings.
wingrovebuyer : I used to live on a street called Wingrove Road, that's where the name came from!
Customer:

OK thank for your help how do you suggest we go on from here take legal advice and use the longevity argument? Or perhaps speak to the trusts legal advisers? or what?

wingrovebuyer : As this is very impotprtant, and quite a complex argument, I would recommend speaking to a specialist commercial property solicitor, and ask them to provide an opinion on whether or not, in the round, you would qualify as protected business tenants. I think it is very arguable, and hopefully the solicitor you choose will agree. They can then distil the argument into a letter to the chairman, and you could then offer to discuss the terms of a new written lease, which at least gives them the opportunity to get reasonable terms n place.
Customer:

Thanks for you help

wingrovebuyer, Solicitor
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 656
Experience: I am a property solicitor specialising in English Property Law, mines and minerals, sporting rights and rural property.
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