The art of quiet enjoyment
Where a landlord owns several adjoining premises, the leases it grants can often include a term allowing it to carry out works to neighbouring buildings, notwithstanding the effect on the tenant. Such clauses may refer to a specific scheme in contemplation when the lease was granted or they may be drafted as a general right to rebuild / alter. If a landlord chooses to carry out works to neighbouring buildings which interfere with a tenant’s lawful use of premises, the presence of such a clause is not necessarily a defence to a tenant’s claim. Leases almost always contain clauses affording a tenant quiet enjoyment. The right to rebuild does not trump this and has to be exercised reasonably. That means a landlord cannot act with impunity and carry out works without any regard to the effect on its tenant.
In Timothy Taylor Limited v Mayfair House Corp & Anr the High Court considered the operation of these two clauses in relation to an art gallery in Mayfair. It found for the tenant and awarded damages. While cases such as these turn on their facts, this decision is a reminder that a landlord wishing to carry out redevelopment works to adjoining premises has to act reasonably and some or all of the following may result in a lack of reasonableness:
- Not giving advance notice to the tenant or discussing the proposed scheme with the tenant;
- Not being clear to the tenant on length or duration of works;
- No dialogue with the tenant during the works;
- Designing a scheme of works / scaffolding with no regard for the tenant and its business;
- Not limiting the times / days when certain works are undertaken; and
- Not considering any compensation / rent reduction to the tenant for the duration of the work.