Jeremy’s Jottings

Easy come easy go. I hope the following two examples give food for thought.

If my car goes wrong I take it to a garage to be repaired. If say I want a website then I will go to someone with knowledge and understanding of building and maintaining websites.  So, why should I expect someone whose business is say website design be expected to know land law, understand building construction and have the contacts to be able to service and maintain plant and machinery and run their business. From the number of calls we receive where tenants seek clarification as to rights and responsibilities this is a common problem. Is there an answer?

For in excess of 10 years I managed (hands-on and strategically) light industrial premises of up to 10,000 sq. ft. (929 sq. m. approx.). All tenancies were by way of a licence with one month’s rent deposit and rent paid monthly in advance. There were no references taken, if someone liked the look of accommodation and they seemed genuine as long as they had the money they could sign the 3 page licence there and then. The tenant’s responsibilities were to keep clean, pay the rates and meet the cost of electricity and gas. The landlord funded everything else via the service charge. If a tenant didn’t pay the rent and or misbehaved he/she knew the consequences. At times getting the rent could be difficult but tenant’s knew if they genuinely fell on hard times if they were honest with us we would try and find ways to get them through.

The tenant was able to concentrate on running its business. He / she knew that if there was a problem with their property all they had to do was make a single call and someone would respond.

Was the 54 Act relevant? In all the years I was associated with something in the order of 100 units at no stage did any tenant seek to claim the rights available to them under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. I suggest that speaks for itself.

I was contacted the other day by a tenant via email informing me that a smoke detector had gone wrong. As the tenant was responsible for all repairs under the terms of his lease he had to attend to the problem. I wonder how much time he spent in getting an engineer to attend and how much this cost him in lost profit? If the alarm had been the landlord’s responsibility it might have taken me 5 minutes to give an instruction plus a couple of minutes to process the invoice when it came to hand. I suspect the latter option would have been the more cost effective for the tenant. There would have been no cost to the landlord, this would have been factored into the service charge. Further by adopting a model along these lines the landlord has control over the situation as to what is undertaken and by whom.

In the USA, Canada and some European countries the landlord and tenant relationship is far more one of partnership. A model along these lines requires greater sharing of the risk. But if there is an enhanced return does this really matter?

Jeremy’s jottings do not constitute advice on any specific matter.  Lawson Commercial recommends you seek professional advice before taking action.  No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of the jottings.