Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Networking Cambridge Style - 11th February 2014

We are lucky enough to be members of a professional networking group which gathers once a month to eat fine food and drink fine wines at one of the many magnificent dining rooms of the Colleges of the University of Cambridge.

The focus is very much on having an informal chat and a laugh and it is surprising how infrequently the conversation turns to work. This is despite the fact that the group is largely made up of lawyers, accountants, bankers and surveyors who, usually, can’t resist talking about their latest big deal or blue chip client win. In this relaxed environment, mercifully free of forced elevator pitches and referral slips, we have developed a number of valued professional relationships.

Last week the venue was the impressive Fellows Dining Room at Gonville and Caius. The room is designed in Ancient Greek style with details from the Temple of Apollo at Bassae including a large painted ceiling and gilded column capitals. The dinner was suitable sumptuous - spiced butternut squash soup with sour cream and croutons to start followed by marinated venison steak with chestnut mushrooms and a peppercorn and brandy sauce  then profiteroles with a hot rum and chocolate sauce to finish off. Superb!

Monday, 10 February 2014

The Dangers of Letting on a Handshake - 10th February 2014

My last blog, on tenancies at will and on the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the “Act”), is relevant to the following two tips – one for landlords and one for tenants:

(1) Landlords of commercial premises are unwise to let tenants in on a handshake.

To do so will often result in the tenant acquiring unintended security of tenure rights under the  Act.
In outline, these  mean that a minimum 6 months notice to quit is required and that there are only limited grounds, involving payment of compensation, on which the landlord may refuse the grant thereafter of a new, written lease for a period of up to 15 years.   It is possible, therefore, for a landlord to let a tenant in just for a few months and then find he is stuck with him for much longer.

(2)  Conversely, tenants of commercial premises are taking a risk if they continue in occupation beyond the end of a lease but don’t get the landlord to grant a new one.

If the lease is protected by the Act, then there isn’t a problem for the tenant (other than an obligation to give a minimum of three months’ notice to stop rent continuing) but if the lease excluded the Act, the position is different.  To keep costs down, it is tempting for a tenant to rely on the landlord’s acquiescence or verbal agreement to him carrying on in occupation.   However,  the cases show that this is likely, in the absence of the Act applying, to be under an implied tenancy at will.   Even if the tenant is intending to stay on for a few weeks only,  he will be at the mercy of the landlord’s discretion on whether to allow the arrangement to continue longer than on a day to day basis.  He risks being given immediate notice to quit and becoming a trespasser at any time.

Paul Dixon