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Awaiting Judgement

One would have thought the law surrounding Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954 was settled long ago, but it appears it may not be.

A case surrounding the meaning and effect of the word ‘intends’ within ground (f) of s30(1) of the Act (one of the landlord’s grounds of opposition to the grant of a new tenancy) has hit the headlines for several reasons – one being that it has leapfrogged from the High Court directly to the Supreme Court (S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (UKSC 2017/0151).  Heard in that court on 17 October, we await their Lordships’ decisions.

Ground (f) of course states:

“that on the termination of the current tenancy the landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises comprised in the holding or a substantial part of those premises or to carry out substantial work of construction on the holding or part thereof and that he could not reasonably do so without obtaining possession of the holding”.

It has always been thought and held that the landlord’s intention is simply a question of fact.  In this case, there is no question that the landlord did intend to do substantial works.  Indeed, it gave  an undertaking to the court that it would do the works.

However, the question asked by the Appellant is whether it would make a difference if the landlord only intended to do the works in order to defeat the tenant’s application for a new tenancy?  Has the landlord the requisite intention for the purposes of ground (f)?  The judge at first instance (County Court) and the judge on appeal (High Court) both held that the landlord’s motive for doing the works was separate from the question of its intention and was not relevant.  The question did not go to the Court of Appeal (as the law was settled) but was allowed, as we say above, to go directly to the Supreme Court.

A definite case of ‘watch this space’.

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