Edmonds Judd

Commercial Leasing

Tenants wanting to alter the premises or their use

If you are a landlord owning commercial property, you may want to know how your tenant can make changes to the premises, or its use of the premises, without speaking to you about it first. If you are a tenant, you may want to know what you can do without being in contact with your landlord.

Tenants under commercial leases generally have fairly broad rights for the use and enjoyment of the property under the lease, but there are some limitations to what tenants can do without your consent. These include changing the business use of the property, assigning the lease or altering the premises. When considering any tenant’s request for consents under the lease, you must act reasonably.

 

Change of business use of the property

The deed of lease usually records the business use of your tenant in the first schedule. Your tenant cannot use the premises for anything other than the business use without your prior written consent. Provided the proposed use is not in substantial competition with the business of any other occupant of the property, reasonably suitable for the premises and compliant with any applicable statutory provision relating to resource management, you cannot unreasonably withhold consent to your tenant’s request to change the business use of the premises.

 

Alterations or additions

Your tenant cannot make any alterations or additions to the premises, or alter the external appearance of the premises, including affixing signs or advertising on the exterior of the building, without your prior written consent. In the case of signs, you cannot unreasonably withhold consent if the sign is to describe your tenant’s business.

If your tenant wants to make alterations or additions to the premises, or alter the premises’ external appearance, they must provide you with plans and specifications for the proposed works. They will also need to comply with all statutory requirements when completing the works, including obtaining any necessary building consents and/or compliance certificates. You cannot unreasonably withhold or delay your consent to these additions or alterations.

If you require it, your tenant (at their own cost) must reinstate the premises and repair any damage caused by the alterations or signs by the end of the lease. If the additions or alterations are not removed by the end of the lease, you may elect to retain ownership of these without any compensation payable to your tenant.

 

Assignment of the lease

Your tenant cannot assign the lease or sublet any part of the premises or carparks without your prior written consent. Again, you cannot unreasonably withhold consent. There are certain conditions which your tenant must meet, otherwise it will be considered reasonable for you to withhold consent. These include:

  • Your tenant can demonstrate to your satisfaction that the proposed assignee or subtenant is respectable, responsible and has the financial resources to meet their own commitments under the lease
  • All rent has been paid by your tenant and they are not in breach of the lease
  • Your tenant and assignee have (or will) signed and delivered to you a deed of assignment of lease
  • If the assignee is a company, you are entitled to request a deed of guarantee to be executed by the principal shareholders of that company, or a bank guarantee from a registered bank to be delivered to you as a condition of your consent, and
  • Your tenant agrees to pay your reasonable costs and disbursements in respect of the approval and the preparation of any documentation you require. These costs are generally payable whether or not the assignment or sublease ultimately proceeds.

 

Under the more recent versions of the ADLS standard lease, any change in the legal or beneficial ownership of a tenant company which results in the effective management or control of the company changing, such as the majority shareholder selling its shares, is treated as a deemed assignment and also requires landlord consent.

While landlords and tenants can generally work through issues of landlord consent at a commercial level by themselves, occasionally there can be problems, particularly if a landlord does not want to consent to the request or the request results in substantial changes to the lease.

 

It is a requirement of the lease that any landlord consent granted is recorded in writing, and we recommend for both landlords and tenants that you comply with this requirement. Any conditions to the consent, or changes to the lease which may result from the consent, should also be recorded in writing.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant negotiating through a consent request, we recommend early contact with us. We can assist with advising what is and isn’t reasonable from each party in the circumstances, and can help to ensure that what you have agreed is correctly recorded, to reduce the chances of disputes in the future.

 

 

 

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