Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Tenancy at will — Barclays Wealth Trustees (Jersey) Ltd v Erimus Housing Ltd

By Cassandra Cartwright

The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision that a tenant, which remained in occupation of commercial premises after its contracted-out lease had expired, did so on the basis of an implied annual periodic tenancy. Instead, says the Court of Appeal, it was a tenancy at will.

Key points

  • The negotiations between the landlord and tenant for a replacement lease were without any urgency or impetus. However, because those negotiations were never actually abandoned, the Court of Appeal was willing to find that the parties always intended that a new lease would actually be entered into.
  • Once the tenant announced an intention to vacate the premises, it was inappropriate for the court to find that a need for security of tenure arose at that point, to cover the period to the tenant’s proposed departure date.
  • The continuing nature of the lease negotiations and a joint intention that a new lease be granted — until such time as one of the parties changed their mind — meant that the tenant’s occupation was as a tenant at will.
  • This would be the case particularly where it was intended that the new lease itself be contracted out of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954…

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