If you own a commercial property and are acting as a landlord, you may at some point wish to take back the possession of your property. Often, this will be due to your tenant’s breach of their lease terms or contract, for example by failing to make rent payments on time, sub-letting without permission, or failing in their upkeep and maintenance obligations. Since evicting commercial tenants is complicated and sensitive, it’s important to know how to go about it properly.  

Right Of Forfeiture 

If you want to take the possession of your property back while the tenant still occupies it, the process is known as “forfeiture”. You are only able to forfeit your premises’ lease of there are clear legal grounds. If the terms of the lease state that you have right of forfeiture, there are two ways to do this: Peaceable re-entry and making a court application for possession.  

What Is Peaceable Re-Entry? 

Peaceable re-entry involves simply entering the property then changing the door locks so the tenant can no longer enter. Although this sounds simple, it’s a high-risk solution since the tenant may apply to the courts and take back their possession while also claiming compensation for losses they incurred due to wrongful conviction.  

You are committing a criminal offence if your try to take repossession of your property via peaceable entry when someone who is in the property objects. Therefore, the unit must be empty in order to attempt this option. Making an application for possession to the court is a safer route, but it is often a lengthy and expensive process.  

Which Route Should I Take? 

If a commercial tenant fails to pay their rent, there is no need to give notice that you intend to reclaim your premises, it’s possible to just re-enter the property and reclaim it. To ensure your forfeiture rights are not waivered you must give your tenant no acknowledgement of their tenancy’s continuance and it’s wise to put a repossession notice on the premises’ door, with a solicitor accompanying you as your witness.  

If your tenant has breached the terms of their lease, a 146 notice must be serviced before you’re able to claim repossession. The notice has to be served on the tenant by your solicitor to the tenant, mortgage provider and any subtenant clearly outlining the breach’s nature and other requirements like compensation or remedial action.  

If your tenant has failed to keep the property in a good state of repair, you may need to offer your tenant the chance of claiming statutory protection. They have to do this within a 28-day period of receiving their 146 notice and you must make preliminary claims to the court for permission before you proceed with further actions against your tenant.  

To take your tenant to court, you must make your application for possession, completing and submitting the relevant claim forms which must be served to your tenant, typically by your solicitor. The notice contains a timeframe within which your tenant must adhere to the notice’s demands.  

It’s always wise to take professional legal advice to ensure that you not only take the right course of eviction action for you, but also that you carry it out in the correct manner to avoid any costly and time-consuming implications.