In response to your article questioning whether it is time to serve notice on the Landlord and Tenant Act, in my opinion, yes it is.

The act was enacted in 1954 to protect and regenerate businesses occupying scarce commercial premises in our bomb-damaged town and city centres.

For the first 50 years or so, it worked reasonably well, as landlords could usually secure a lease renewal for a 15-year-plus term, so would concede a ‘soft’ settlement at renewal due to the unbalanced process, because at the first rent review a near-full rental value could be anticipated, the rent review process being much more even-handed than lease renewal.

However, now that retail leases are renewing typically for only a five-year term, the act has become a tenant’s charter, with landlords disadvantaged at each renewal. This is why it is now an anachronism that should be abolished.

While subsequent acts have tinkered with it, the most essential reform remains elusive. In all other forms of business, a contract freely entered into between two parties expires on the date agreed between them. Why should a lease be any different? Why should a commercial tenant be entitled to renew an expired lease on terms determined by a court with little specialist knowledge, and which are significantly less favourable than those a landlord would secure if free to offer his premises on the open market?

Soft rent settlements also have an adverse effect on neighbouring premises where rent reviews are under negotiation. Tenants’ surveyors can and do cite these renewals as comparables.

In Scotland, where most commercial premises were undamaged by enemy action, commercial tenants have never enjoyed this subsidised right of lease renewal, being required to vacate without compensation at the expiration of the lease.

Scottish landlords and tenants, engaged on a level playing field, negotiate lease renewals on terms more closely aligned to those the tenant would pay if acquiring the premises for first occupation. What is unreasonable about that?

Until common sense prevails and the 1954 act is appropriately amended or preferably abolished, the only course of action open to an English or Welsh landlord to protect his reversion remains having the foresight, determination and resources to develop his property.

Anthony H Ratcliffe, Ratcliffes Chartered Surveyors

: In response to your article questioning whether it is time to serve notice on the Landlord and Tenant Act, in my opinion yes it is (p39, 20.01.23).