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Wessex Reserve Forest v White

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Wessex Reserve Forest and Cadets Assn v White [2005] EWCA Civ 1774

Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (LTA) – ss.24-30 LTA – Commercial Tenants – Secure Tenancies

Facts

W occupied premises under a lease which provided that, upon termination, W was obliged to restore the land to its pre-tenancy condition. The tenancy had continued to exist under s.24 LTA 1954. L, however, had served W with notice under s.25 of their intention to demolish the buildings which comprised W’s leasehold, one of the grounds of termination provided for by s.30(1)(f). W opposed the termination and sought to renew the tenancy under s.24(1). W argued that L could not have made out such an intention as, under the terms of W’s lease, at the end of the tenancy W would already have removed the buildings in question, bar one. W argued further that this building was situated so as to allow L to access it without taking actual possession of the entire holding, which meant L’s opposition to its existence failed under s.31A.

Issues

The principal issue in this case was whether L had made out the necessary intention to demolish the premises under s.30(1)(f), there being no evidence of any intention to reconstruct or develop the land in question.

Held

The Court of Appeal found in favour of L. The difficulty with L's opposition to a new tenancy, which they had pursued under the ground of opposition contained within s.30(1)(f), was that they could not have held an intention to demolish the buildings contained in the holding because those buildings, save one, would not have been in existence upon termination of the existing tenancy. Accordingly, L had failed to show an intention for the purposes of s.30(1)(f). With regard to the one building that would have remained had the existing tenancy been terminated, it was clear that that building would have fallen foul of s.31A, since L would have been able to gain access to it without requiring possession.

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