It’s tough to catch a break: 2014 is (so far) the year of the landlord

By Anna Ralston

The power is back with the landlords: unless there is an express apportionment clause, it will be difficult for a tenant to argue that it should be entitled to an apportioned refund for rents and other sums paid in advance of, but that relate to the period after, a break date (the broken period).

Break options are well-established and ripe fodder for disputes between landlords and tenants; 2013 was the year of the tenant with two tenant-friendly decisions:

  • First, there was Marks and Spencer v BNP Paribas, where it was held that the landlord did have to repay an apportioned amount of rent and other sums that related to the broken period; and
  • Second, there was Siemens v Friends Life, where it was held that non-compliance with the strict requirements of a break option, in terms of the form of notice, did not render the break notice invalid.

In both cases, 2014 has seen the Court of Appeal weigh in. And weigh-in in favour of the landlord. In the frequently occurring battle of the break option, 2014 is (so far at least) the year of the landlord…

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