Is ‘Gill v Lees News’ a thorn in the side for tenants?
Tenants wanting to renew their leases under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, in circumstances where their landlords may wish to object to that statutory right, probably now face a new and potentially onerous hurdle.
Gill v Lees News Ltd  EWCA Civ 1178 established that minor disrepair during the lease term, even if subsequently remedied, can be a factor taken into account by the court when deciding whether a new lease ought not be granted.
Here’s what tenants and landlords can take from the case:
- If you think you might want to renew your lease in the future, then consider the state of repair of the premises now and on an on-going basis.
- Take steps to remedy any existing disrepair.
- Consider a programme of planned maintenance to ensure the risk of future disrepair is minimised
- Consider services installations as well as building fabric
- Enter into service contracts for the services installations
- Keep records of service and maintenance expenditure
- Don’t encourage your landlord to inspect any existing disrepair at the premises!
- If your landlord does identify disrepair, remedy it quickly and effectively and be able to show a future court that you have done so
- Inspect premises frequently to identify and record disrepair
- Notify tenants of disrepair, potentially via an interim schedule of dilapidations
- If the tenant does not react to an interim schedule of dilapidations then consider a repairs notice (a Jervis v Harris notice) to show the future court how unwilling the tenant was to comply with its repair obligations
- Keep records of non-compliance