Has the lease ended?

Landlords are often faced with the issue of a tenant who cannot pay their rent and the difficulty of deciding whether to let the current tenant leave so that the landlord can re-let the premises as quickly as possible or whether to pursue the current tenant.

Whilst a landlord might have sympathy for a tenant in financial problems, it is important for a landlord to ensure that they do not take any steps which might prevent them from pursuing the tenant later on.

A common problem is what the landlord should do if the tenant offers the keys of the premises back to the landlord.  If the landlord accepts the keys from the tenant, this could be enough for a court to take the view that the lease has come to and end due to 'surrender by operation of law'. Whilst a surrender will not always be the outcome if the keys are handed back, the landlord needs to beware in such situations. This is because if the lease has ended, the landlord's ability to bring any proceedings against the tenant for non-payment of rent also ends.

A landlord would be well advised to see a specialist solicitor in these circumstances. It is possible for the landlord to take the keys but on the basis that no surrender of the lease is being accepted.

If you would like to discuss this or any other commercial landlord or tenant issue, contact us.

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