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Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

Brief Background

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is a piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that regulates the rights of landlord and tenants in premises that are used for business purposes. The Act did also previously relate to residential tenancies but this section has now been mostly repealed except for the protection of long residential tenancies where low rent is paid. The Act therefore provides tenants with greater security of their tenure.

Why was it introduced?

The Act was introduced to protect businesses from being evicted by having their tenancy ended by the landlord. Businesses build up goodwill over a period of operating and depending on the type of business, there might be significant costs in moving location and losing/damaging stock in the process. On this basis, the Act provides a right to a tenant to renew the lease on the property and this is triggered once notice of eviction is served. If this is not served, the tenancy is automatically continued.

What was the aim of the Act?

The Act was introduced to help strengthen the rights and responsibilities that were available to tenants who were under leasehold agreements with a landlord and occupied business premises. Specifically, the aim of the Act was to provide more security to businesses at the end of their tenancy of their lease of a property by ensuring that a landlord could not evict them simply by serving an eviction notice, which is a traditional mechanism seen in residential leaseholds to regain entry or possession to a property. This means that inequitable situations can be limited or even excluded in some cases to ensure that a tenant of a business property does not suffer significant loss as a result of the tenancy agreement coming to a conclusion.

What main changes did it make to the law?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 was an updated version of the earlier Landlord and Tenant Act 1927. From a legal perspective, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 was split in distinct parts to govern the relationships between landlord and tenant in residential (Part I) and business arrangements (Part II). Part IV of the Act states how the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 can be used alongside other pieces of legislation that govern property law such as the Law of Property Act 1925 and the Leasehold Property (Repairs) Act 1938.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 now prevents landlords from evicting tenants by ending the tenancy agreement, either by way of giving notice or by the time limit being concluded on a fixed-term contract. This requires the landlord to provide the tenant with the opportunity to respond to the notice of eviction, where the tenant could request to extend the leasehold agreement between the parties.

Key Sections

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 4 and 5 define the circumstances in which a tenancy can be terminated by a landlord (section 4) and by the tenant (section 5).

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 23 defines the tenancy arrangement to which the Act would apply to. Importantly, section 24 holds that an existing lease is continued until it is terminated and states the requirements for this termination to be satisfied.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 30 (1) contains seven circumstances in which a landlord can reject the continuance of a lease from a tenant. These are if the tenant has failed to repair the premises, has persistently delayed paying rent, another substantial breach, availability of a suitable alternative accommodation, if the tenant is a sub-tenant and the landlord can derive a better rent from renting the property as a whole, if the landlord has the intention to demolish the premises or if the landlord wishes to use the premises himself.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 43 includes the exceptions to the Act which are related to premises that are used for mining or agricultural purposes.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 53 states the jurisdiction of the county court in circumstances where a landlord might withhold his consent to the assignment of a tenancy, the tenant making an improvement to the property or to change a use of the property. Further to this, Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 63 provides regulations for the jurisdiction of the court as for business and residency relationships.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, section 70 (2) states that the Act would come into operation on the 1st October 1954 and section 70 (3) states that the Act will not extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland.


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