I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anthony Ratcliffe’s well researched letter about abolishing the 1954 Landlord & Tenant Act.
For many reasons, including complexity, costs and filling up the courts’ time, it should be abolished. However, we should not scrap the good parts of the act and perhaps it would be sensible, simultaneously, to allow tenants to renew on an ‘ex act’ basis as follows.
On expiry, a tenant could choose to renew for a term of up to 15 years, at the arbitrator’s discretion. The tenant could also, if an expert or arbitrator decided it was reasonable, include tenant break clauses, while landlords could insist on their break clauses too.
The same rules of compensation payable to a tenant that is outside the act on renewal, where contested, would still apply if the landlord could prove its case to the arbitrator or expert.
I think it is reasonable for a tenant that cannot renew a lease to be compensated for finding and fitting out alternative premises.
The landlord or the tenant would serve a notice not more than 12 months nor less than six months before expiry to enter negotiations. A protocol timetable would apply, forcing the landlord and tenant to focus on comparables at least three months before the event date.
If no agreement were reached, either party could apply for an expert or arbitrator to determine the rent and other terms, and costs would follow the award.
The Landlord and Tenant Act has worked exceptionally well, so let’s keep the good things which are in it. The views of your readers on this topic will be appreciated.
Anthony Lorenz, managing director, The Lorenz Consultancy