Understanding the nuances of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is important for both commercial landlords and tenants. Whether you're a landlord looking to protect your property or a tenant seeking to know your rights and responsibilities, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
What is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?
Before delving into the specifics, let's start with the basics, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, often abbreviated as LTA 1985, is an important piece of legislation that governs the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, primarily in the context of commercial leases. It brought about significant changes to the way leases were structured and regulated when it was introduced in 1985.
When does the Landlord and Tenant Act apply?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 comes into play when certain conditions are met. It primarily applies to leases of seven years or less and governs various aspects of these tenancies. It's worth noting that it doesn't apply to residential properties. For residential leases, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is the relevant legislation.
Does the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 apply to commercial leases?
Yes, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out the rights and responsibilities of both commercial landlords and tenants in England and Wales. Whether you're a landlord seeking to understand your obligations or a tenant looking to assert your rights, this legislation is an important reference point.
When does the Landlord and Tenant Act not apply?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 does not apply to all leases. There are specific scenarios where it may not be relevant. For example, as mentioned above, it does not apply to residential properties or leases exceeding seven years.
Additionally, the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985 primarily addresses issues related to the structure and exterior of the property, as well as repairing obligations. Matters such as fixtures and fittings may not be covered by this legislation.
Does the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 apply in Scotland?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 applies in England and Wales, but not in Scotland. In Scotland, different legislation and regulations govern the relationship between landlords and tenants. Therefore, if you're involved in a commercial property transaction in Scotland, you should consult the appropriate Scottish legislation and legal guidance from Scottish lawyers.
Now, let's explore some of the key elements covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, for both commercial landlords and tenants.
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, tenants should:
- Keep their rented property reasonably clean and tidy
- Ensure the safety of any electrical appliances they own
- Maintain any garden or outside area associated with the property
- Carry out minor maintenance tasks, e.g changing light bulbs/smoke alarm batteries
- Be liable for any damage they, visitors or pets may cause to the property
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are responsible for the following:
- Ensuring the rented property is free from health and safety hazards, as per Section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
- Addressing issues such as damp, mould, pests, gas safety, heating, hot water, electrical safety and fire safety
- Major repairs, such as those related to the building's structure, gas and electrical systems, water supply, plumbing, and common areas, fall under the landlord's obligation
- Maintaining the property in compliance with legal housing acts, ensuring that it's fit for habitation and in good repair
It's important to note that the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 distinguishes between minor and major repairs. Tenants are usually responsible for repairs if they’re minor, while major repairs (which encompass structural, safety and essential systems) fall under the landlord's jurisdiction.
Landlords must address repairs promptly once they are reported by tenants. The timeframe for repair completion depends on the nature of the repair. Tenants can communicate repair issues through various channels, including phone, email, written correspondence or designated smartphone apps.
Both landlords and tenants should keep a record of repair communications and actions taken.
Exemptions from repairs
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 provides some exemptions for landlords. Repairs are not mandated for landlords in the following scenarios:
- If the tenant has not reported the defect
- If the tenant doesn’t grant access to the property for repairs
- If the tenant has caused the damage through reckless or careless behaviour
- If the damage is the result of unforeseeable accidents, such as a fire or flood
When your commercial lease is due for renewal, you need to understand the process outlined by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 as follows:
1. Both landlords and tenants are required to serve renewal notices, initiating negotiations for the new lease;
2. The landlords and tenants will have a have a set timeframe to negotiate lease terms, including rent and duration;
3. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985A safeguards a tenant's right to renew their lease, preventing unfair denial. Please note, however, that landlords can refuse renewal on specific grounds, such as tenant breaches or property redevelopment plans
4. When a lease renewal becomes complex, consider legal advice or mediation to ensure a fair and compliant process in the event of any disputes.
Understanding different sections of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
There are key sections of the Act that are often queried because they have a specific impact on different groups.
What is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?
Section 11 is concerned with the repair obligations of the landlord, which is why it’s such a hot topic for renter’s rights groups. As we’ve outlined above, major repairs fall to the landlord and minor ones to the tenant, but there must be a clear reporting process. It’s worth keeping all correspondence around repairs to ensure you’re compliant.
What is Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?
Section 21 is a very popular topic of conversation, as it is a notice of eviction. This notice is only relevant to residential tenants. If you are a landlord or tenant who wants to end a commercial lease agreement early, there are other processes to go through. Its worth checking if you have a break clause in your contract.
Get legal assistance from LawBite
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is an important piece of legislation that governs both commercial landlords and tenants. It is important to understand its provisions and how they apply to your commercial lease.
While this guide provides an overview of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it's important to understand that the information provided here is not legal advice. We recommend that you take legal advice when entering into a commercial lease or carrying out a review of the terms of your lease or to speak to one of our experienced commercial property solicitors, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.