The landlords right to build vs the tenant’s right of quiet enjoyment.
The case of Timothy Taylor v Mayfair House Corporation and another  considers this matter. The High Court in this case were required to consider the terms of a lease which gave the express right to the landlord to carry out building works where the use and enjoyment of the tenant’s premises were materially affected.
The tenant, an operator of an art gallery, entered a lease with the landlord. The lease contained clear provisions allowing the landlord to carry out works.
The landlord was creating apartments above an art gallery. The tenant argued that although the landlord did have the right to create the apartments; the effect of these rights caused disturbances in the tenant operating their gallery. In addition to this, the scaffolding which was erected gave the impression that the gallery was closed.
The High Court’s Decision
The High Court held that the landlord, whilst within his rights to carry out the work, had acted unreasonably.
Unreasonably? You could be forgiven for wondering what exactly did the landlord do to act unreasonably when the lease itself contained clear provisions allowing him to do the works.
The High Court held that the landlord had failed to take all reasonable steps to minimize disturbance to the tenant; he had breached the covenants contained in the lease for quiet enjoyment and non-derogation of the grant. In short the landlord had interfered unreasonably with the tenants use of the premises.
How did the landlord interfere? The High Court found various factors such as:
- The landlord’s refusal to offer any discount towards the rent
- The manner in which the scaffolding was erected thereby giving the impression that the gallery was closed
- The landlord’s failure to effectively communicate with the tenant on the works being carried out.
The tenant was awarded damages at a rate of 20% of the rent paid until completion of the works.
Landlords take notice. Even where you have the right to carry out work, this should be exercised in a manner which does not stifle the tenants right to quiet enjoyment.
Failure to give consideration to the rights, granted to the tenant in the lease, can result in significant damages being awarded to the tenant.
The above does not constitute legal advice and is a general position of the law. Please contact us for further information.