Edmonds Judd

Landlords

Commercial leases

Reinstatement obligations for tenants

There are many rights and obligations that affect both tenants and landlords at the beginning, during and at the expiry or earlier termination of a commercial property lease.

 

The obligations on a tenant to reinstate the premises are usually set out in clause 20.1 of the ADLS Deed of Lease[1] and are important terms for both tenants and landlords to understand. Essentially the tenant is obligated to return the premises to the landlord in the same condition and state that it was at the beginning of the lease.

 

 

Tenants be careful before undertaking work

It is crucial that tenants understand their obligations before undertaking any work, and that your landlord must approve any alterations in writing. Having written approval does not mean that you won’t be required to remove any fixtures or alterations that have been made to suit your business needs or use of the space.

 

However, it is not an automatic requirement for you to reinstate the premises. Only where your landlord requires it to be reinstated does this obligation apply to you.

 

If your landlord does require reinstatement of the premises, you have a number of things to consider when deciding whether to make any alterations to complete a customised or business-specific fitout. These include the cost of potentially having to remove fixtures or reverse alterations, the benefit that any such alterations or fitout will have for your business, the length of your lease and/or how many rights of renewal there may be. These aspects of the lease are essential for you to consider before you complete any works given that you may be required to reinstate the premises.

 

As a tenant, you also need to understand that any reinstatement is entirely at your cost, and any fixtures or fittings you do not remove by the expiry or termination of the lease may become your landlord’s property without any need for them to compensate you.

 

Further to this, any cost that your landlord incurs in removing your fixtures or fittings or carrying out reinstatement work you have not completed can be recovered from you by your landlord.

 

Finally, you must also repair any damage caused in the process of removing your fixtures and fittings from the premises. This can be problematic if you have completed significant structural alterations where reinstatement may be difficult or even impossible to complete without causing some damage to the building or premises you are vacating.

 

Disputes

Where a dispute arises about the cost or compensation claimed by either party to the lease for reinstatement or damage caused in the process, the default position in the lease is that the parties submit the dispute for arbitration.[2]

 

Arbitration can be a costly and drawn-out process so having a firm grasp on obligations around reinstatement either at the beginning of the lease or before undertaking any fitout works or alterations is absolutely essential. This is particularly important if you are considering significant alterations that could be costly to remove to reinstate the premises.

 

Take care

The proposed lease should be carefully reviewed. This includes the standard terms of the deed of lease[3] as they relate to reinstatement and the dispute resolution process and any specific terms or variations to the default terms which may reduce liability or impose stricter obligations on both parties.

 

Commercial leases can be tricky things and it’s essential to get advice to avoid costly mistakes.

 

If you are a prospective tenant or landlord, we will work with you through this process.

[1] ADLS Deed of Lease Sixth Edition 2012 (5).

[2] Clause 43.

[3] Clauses 20 and 43.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Property Speaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Property Speaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022.     Editor: Adrienne Olsen.       E-mail: [email protected].       Ph: 029 286 3650


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.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Property Speaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Property Speaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022.     Editor: Adrienne Olsen.       E-mail: [email protected].       Ph: 029 286 3650