The relationships between landlords and tenants have long been supported in law through the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Over the past 70 years, this legislation has supported business tenants with the right of renewal at the end of contracts along with a number of other requirements that help to maintain successful tenancies, with a route for legal recourse when needed.
In recent times, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has put in a request to the Law Commission asking them to review Part Two of the Act, focusing on the security of tenure positions as part of their wider Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan.
What is the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan?
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities released their Anti-Social Behaviour Plan in 2023, stating that ‘The Action Plan builds on the work we [the Government] are already doing to make our streets safe and invest in communities’.
This plan covers a wide range of anti-social behaviours that the government are keen to tackle, and while this is a welcome piece of work for many, understanding the link between that and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is slightly more confusing.
When you look more closely into the plan, there are sections that talk about giving landlords and tenants that follow the law, stronger laws and more simple routes of recourse when something goes wrong, helping to deal with problems in a more efficient and safer way. It also details offering landlords a more consistent way to resolve issues of anti-social behaviour from tenants, supporting them to keep their communities safer and happier.
Why Do We Need Change?
There is no doubt that the commercial component of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is in desperate need of modernisation! It was written nearly 70 years ago and is not reflective of the world we now live and work in.
It also isn’t reflective of the changes our country and communities have seen in recent times. The financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic are not only fresh in our minds but have had a huge impact on businesses and their ability to remain in a strong trading position.
Sadly, many businesses and landlords that were operating prior to 2008 and the pandemic have found themselves pushed out of the market, leaving many more in fear of what is to come in the near future.
The impact of these business closures is apparent when you walk down the high street and find yourself faced with empty shops and a lack of shoppers who want to spend their money, making it virtually impossible for the next generation of small business owners to get started in a meaningful and productive way. When you consider the sheer level of negative impact on commercial spaces for landlords, it’s clear that changes must be made now.
What Changes Are the Law Commission Proposing?
The Law Commission has been asked to look at the current legislation on offer and consider what recommendations for change they can offer. The work that has been done to date suggests that there are five key areas that need to be modernised for changes to be meaningful and supportive. These five areas for change include:
- Clarity and Ease of Use – The new legislation should be clear and easy to understand for both landlords and tenants. This will help to reduce disputes and make it easier for businesses to operate as well as ensuring that tenants fully understand what they are taking on when they sign up for a lease.
- Widespread Use – The legislation should be widely used by all landlords and tenants. This will help to create a level playing field and ensure that all businesses are treated fairly rather than allowing for contracting out of the legislation as it currently stands.
- Support for High Streets and Town Centres – The legislation should support the effective use of high streets and town centres. This will help to revitalise these areas and make them more attractive to businesses and consumers, drawing more people back to the high street and helping to build stronger communities.
- Accountability to Government Priorities – The legislation should take into account Government priorities such as “net zero” and “levelling up.” This will help to ensure that the legislation is aligned with the Government’s overall economic and environmental goals.
- Productive and Beneficial Relationships – The legislation should foster productive and beneficial relationships between landlords and tenants. This will help to create a more stable and prosperous commercial property market.
In addition to these five key areas, the Law Commission has also shared that they are considering other issues within the review, including:
- Lease Termination
- The Amount of Rent Being Charged
- Landlord Obligations for Maintenance
- Tenant Obligations for Repair
- Right to Renew
It’s clear that modernisation of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is not a straightforward task, with many areas to unpick and consider. However, both the Government and Law Commission have shared their commitment to achieving this change in order to create a more effective and equitable system for landlords and tenants all over the United Kingdom so that the commercial property market can thrive once more.
When Will We See Action Taking Place?
As with any change in legislation, there is a process that the Law Commission will need to follow before they can agree or refuse to move forward. As part of this process, the Law Commission is now working towards publishing a consultation paper to share any specific proposals for the overhaul of the legislation.
This consultation paper is expected to land in the latter part of 2023, ready for decisions to be made during 2024; so, keep a close eye on their publications to be able to have your say over the proposed changes.
For more information or assistance, you can contact Carter Bond Solicitors at 020 3476 6751 or via email at email@example.com. You can also find valuable resources on their YouTube channel and website at www.carterbond.co.uk.
This note comprises the view of the author at the time of writing. This note is not a substitute for legal advice. Information may be incorrect or out of date and may not constitute a definitive or complete statement of the law or the legal market in any area. This note is not intended to constitute advice in any specific situation. You should take legal advice in specific situations. All implied warranties and conditions are excluded, to the maximum extent permitted by law.