Landlord wins case against commercial tenant over repair work
The economic downturn has made both landlords and tenants extra keen to minimise potential losses when leases come to an end.
A recent case in the High Court involved a dispute over the condition of a set of roof lights on a single-storey warehouse. The lease had required that the tenant should “keep the whole of the premises ... in good and substantial repair and condition”.
When the lease ended, the landlord brought a dilapidations claim for the cost of repairing the roof lights which it claimed were so degraded they were opaque and needed to be treated with coating to restore their translucence. The tenant denied that substantial repair work was required.
The court found in favour of the landlord. It held that, in so far as it was possible through maintenance and repair, the lights had to be in the same condition at the end of the lease as they were at the beginning. They had to be capable of letting in the same amount of light, and they had to be structurally sound and weatherproof.
Keeping the building in good and substantial condition involved taking whatever steps were necessary to achieve and maintain that standard.
The court held that the roof lights ceased to be in good condition within the meaning of the covenant once there had been a reduction in translucence to such an extent that the light coming through had to be augmented by artificial lighting in weather conditions that would not have required additional lighting when the roof lights were new.
The lights had reached that condition by the time the lease ended and so the landlord was entitled to recover the cost of repair work.