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Do you want to end a commercial lease agreement? And what are the different notices you need to serve?
If you’re not sure where to start, our guide covers the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and some of the scenarios you might face.
This guide covers what you need to do if you or your tenant wants to end a commercial lease agreement after it’s expired.
If your tenant wants to end the lease early, this is known as a surrender of lease. You should research your options in this scenario and get specific legal advice.
There are automatic protections in place for tenants under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the 1954 Act). Commercial landlords need to be aware of these, and we’ll cover them before explaining the specific lease termination sections.
The 1954 Act gives your tenants the right to:
For more control over your property and end-of-lease terms, you may want to exclude these rights or agree to new ones. However, this requires a formal procedure complete with notices and declarations, so that the tenant understands the rights they’re giving up.
Assuming you haven’t decided to exclude your tenant’s rights (see above), and these are protected as usual, your commercial tenancy agreement will carry on until it’s ended in a way that’s allowed under the 1954 Act.
Your tenant might decide that once their tenancy has expired, they don’t want to stay on. If they decide this before the contractual end date has passed and they’ve vacated the premises, your lease comes to a natural end, in-line with the agreement you have in place.
If they remain on the premises and then decide to leave after the end date, they’ll need to give you three months’ notice using a Section 27 notice (see below). You’ll begin a ‘tenancy at will’ for this period.
You can give your tenant notice that you plan to end their tenancy with a Section 25 notice (sometimes called an S25 notice). This confirms:
Terminating a commercial lease agreement? Use the Section 25 notice template to get the ball rolling.
This template’s wording is statutory, so don’t change it unless you’re adding the required information. You’ll also need to include the notes that go with the template or your notice won’t be valid.
Strict timings apply to a Section 25 notice. You’ll need to serve it between six and 12 months before the end of your contractual term. And if your tenant has already given you formal notice that they want to renew the lease (see Section 26 notice below), you can’t serve it.
If your lease is already in its final six months (or has expired), you’ll still need to provide at least six months’ notice.
If you’ve served a Section 25 notice but your tenant wants to stay, these are the legal steps you should take:
Taking matters this far is expensive for all parties, and often the landlord and tenant reach an agreement along the way. Some landlords offer a financial incentive (for example a month rent free) in return for a quick resolution.
If your tenant wants to stay and you haven’t issued a Section 25 notice (see above) to terminate the commercial lease agreement, they may send a request for a new lease. This is known as a Section 26 notice or S26 notice. Again it’s written in statutory wording, required by law.
The schedule that comes with the Section 26 notice allows your tenant to set out the terms they’d like for the new lease. If you can’t agree to these terms, a court can intervene and make the decision for you both.
Your tenant can use the Section 26 notice template for this, but remember, they should only edit it to add the required information.
If your tenant stays on the premises and only decides they want to leave after the contract is expired, they’ll need to give you three months’ notice with a Section 27 notice (sometimes called an S27 notice).
You can give them the Section 27 notice template to help them with this. The wording is much less formal than in the Section 25 notice template, but they should send it to you with their intentions set out clearly in a letter format by recorded delivery.
Once a Section 27 notice is served, it’s irrevocable. Your tenant won’t have a legal right to stay on the premises after the termination date has passed.
If your tenant has served you with a Section 26 notice (see above) to renew the lease, they can’t send a Section 27 notice to ‘undo’ this. However, they can serve a Section 27 notice to come into effect after their Section 26 notice end date has passed.
Unless you’ve terminated the tenancy with one of these notices, it carries on under the same terms as the original lease. The rent will also be fixed at the amount being paid before the contractual termination date.
Do you have any questions about terminating a commercial lease? Let us know in the comments below.
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Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.
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