L & T (Covenants) Act 1995

This page contains information on

  • Assignment of the reversion - s8
  • Contracting out - s25 - the Avonridge case.
  • Guarantor's liability void under the Act - Good Harvest - K/S Victoria Street
  • Guarantee of AGA
  • Guarantee - consent order not in breach of s25
  • Assignment to guarantor precluded under s25
  • Recovery from orginal tenants - s17 notices where there is an outstanding rent review - Raguz in the House of Lords

Assignment of reversion

Personal obligations of landlord

BHP Great Britain Petroleum Ltd v Chesterfield Properties Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 179

(HL refused leave to appeal: [2002] 1 WLR 1449)

Where a landlord assigns the reversion in premises he may apply to be released from the landlord covenants of the tenancy by serving a notice on the tenant under s8 of the 1995 Act. However, an obligation that is personal to the original landlord is not a landlord covenant.

In this case the original landlord agreed to refurbish a building. In the agreement there was a personal obligation to remedy defective works. The agreement also provided that following completion of the works a lease would be granted, which was what occurred. As the obligation to do the works was a personal one the original landlord could not escape liability by serving a s8 notice when it assigned the reversion.


Continuing liability of tenant to landlord where no s8 release

Wembley National Stadium Ltd v Wembley (London) Ltd

[2007] EWHC 756 (Ch)


In 1999, the first defendant (as landlord) granted a lease of Wembley stadium to the tenant (claimant) for 125 years. The consideration included a premium and an obligation by the tenant to pay service charge.

In 2001, the 1st defendant transferred the freehold to the 2nd - 5th defendants ("Gideon"). The transfer of the freehold stated that Gideon held the freehold as nominee and trustee for the 1st defendant absolutely. In 2006, the 1st defendant sought service charges in the sum of £660,831 from the tenant. The tenant argued that it was not liable to pay the monies on the basis that:

  • The freehold assignment transferred the benefit of the tenant's covenants to Gideon; alternatively
  • Section 3 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 meant that Gideon alone was entitled to the benefit of the tenant's covenants.

The 1st defendant sought a declaration that it was entitled to the benefit of the tenant's covenants.


The court granted a declaration in favour of the 1st defendant.

The court held that it was plain from s6(2) of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 that the 1st defendant remained bound by the burden of the landlord's covenants in the lease, unless and until released as provided under the Act. Section 6(2) states:

    "6 (2) If the landlord assigns the reversion in the whole of the premises of which he is the landlord"
      (a) he may apply to be released from the landlord covenants of the tenancy in accordance with section 8; and (b) if he is so released from all of those covenants, he ceases to be entitled to the benefit of the tenant covenants of the tenancy as from the assignment."

It was clear that at no time had the 1st defendant obtained such a release, so that whether alone or with Gideon, if necessary, joined as a defendant, he was entitled to enforce the tenant's covenants in the lease, and to all rents and profits due under the lease.


Contracting out - s25

London Diocesan Fund v Avonridge Property Company Limited [2005] UKHL 70


T had a headlease of 7 shop units (for a term of 99 Years). T granted sub-leases to the sub-tenants. T then assigned the headlease to a third party who disappeared. The assignee failed to pay the rent and the head landlord forfeited. T obtained relief from forfeiture but suffered various losses and detriments as a result of the forfeiture. The sub-tenants sued T under the covenant for quiet enjoyment. Ts answer to the claim was that there was a term in the sub-leases stating that T would not be liable under the covenant after it had disposed of the property. The sub-tenants argued that such a clause would get round the release provisions in sections 6 to 8 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 and so was contrary to the anti-avoidance provision in s25(1).


The argument was rejected by the HL. Lord Nicholls:

    "13. sections 6 to 8 of the Act provide a landlord with a means which may result in his being released from the landlord covenants but will not necessarily do so. If the landlord assigns the whole of the premises of which he is landlord he may apply to be released from the landlord covenants of the tenancy. A landlord covenant is a covenant falling to be complied with by the landlord of the premises demised by a tenancy. An application for release is made by the landlord serving an appropriate notice on the tenant requesting a release of the landlord covenant wholly or in part. Where the landlord makes such an application the covenant is released to the requested extent if the tenant consents, or if he fails to object, or if he does object but the court decides it is reasonable for the covenant to be released: section 8."

Thus, a release could be obtained by sections 6 to 8 but that did not prevent the landlord and tenant from agreeing any other mechanism for release as a term of the agreement. And any such term does not 'frustrate the operation' of sections 6 to 8 of the Act so as to fall foul of s25. Lord Nicholls:

    "16. . Sections 5 to 8 are relieving provisions. They are intended to benefit tenants, or landlords, as the case may be. That is their purpose. That is how they are meant to operate. These sections introduced a means, which cannot be ousted, whereby in certain circumstances, without the agreement of the other party, a tenant or landlord can be released from a liability he has assumed. The object of the legislation was that on lawful assignment of a tenancy or reversion, and irrespective of the terms of the tenancy, the tenant or the landlord should have an exit route from his future liabilities. This route should be available in accordance with the statutory provisions. 17. Thus the mischief at which the statute was aimed was the absence in practice of any such exit route. Consistently with this the legislation was not intended to close any other exit route already open to the parties: in particular, that by agreement their liability could be curtailed from the outset or later released or waived."

T's case was not overburdened with merit. Indeed, on their face the transactions have the appearance of a scam. However, that did not assist the sub-tenants. Lord Nicholls:

    "8. Thus the overall position was that Avonridge received premiums from the subtenants totalling altogether £458,500 in exchange for subleases which from their inception were essentially valueless. They were valueless because by its own act of assignment to a worthless assignee Avonridge could at any time put the subleases in jeopardy of forfeiture. Avonridge could do this without incurring any liability either to the head lessor or to the subtenants. From the outset it was in Avonridge's financial interest to take this course as soon as possible. Avonridge lost no time in doing so.
    32. In a period of less than two months [Avondridge] acquired the head lease of seven shop units, granted six under-leases at premiums which gave it a profit of the order of £200,000, and then sold the head lease (for £50,000) to Mr Phithwa. Mr Phithwa himself made a profit of over £20,000 (by granting a seventh under-lease at a premium) and then disappeared without ever paying any rent under the head lease. The unfortunate subtenants have had to pay a heavy price to avoid forfeiture (unless and except so far as they may have been able to pass on that burden to their solicitors)."

The House of Lords therefore had much sympathy with the sub-tenants but it did not help them in the case. This was because the Act did not, on its proper construction, assist them. In any event, the defect in their interests was apparent from the outset. Lord Nicholls:

    "21. Nor do the events in this case exemplify a loophole in the Act Parliament cannot have intended. The risks involved were not obscure or concealed. They were evident on the face of the subleases. The sublessees were to pay up-front a capitalised rent for the whole term of the subleases. But clause 6 enabled Avonridge to shake off all its landlord obligations at will. Any competent conveyancer would, or should, have warned the sublessees of the risks, clearly and forcefully."


Effect of s25 of the 1995 Act

K/S Victoria Street v House of Fraser (Stores Management) Limited

[2011] EWCA Civ 904


This decision clarifies some of the confusion as to the ability of an existing guarantor to guarantee an incoming tenant, following the decision of Newey J in Good Harvest Partnership LLP v Centaur Services Limited [2010] EWHC 330 (Ch). The Court of Appeal has made it clear that:

  • The assignor’s guarantor cannot guarantee the assignee’s obligations under the lease – even voluntarily – such a guarantee will be invalid.
  • The assignor’s guarantor can guarantee the assignor’s AGA


In a complex sale and leaseback transaction, K/S Victoria Street (“K/S”) agreed to buy a department store in Wolverhampton from House of Fraser (Stores Management) Ltd (“Management”), a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Fraser plc (“HofF”). As part of the agreement K/S were to then grant a lease back to

Management (for tax reasons), and Management were then to assign the lease within three months to a more satisfactory subsidiary of HofF, and in default the lease was to be assigned to a specific subsidiary – House of Fraser (Stores) Ltd (“Stores”).

HofF was the guarantor of the lease to Management, and the agreement provided that on assignment, HofF would stand as surety of the assignee’s obligations.

The lease was completed with HofF as guarantor, and the lease contained a clause (3.15(F)) that stated:

    "Notwithstanding the provisions of this clause where the Tenant is [Management] or any other Group Company of [HoF] consent shall not be required to an assignment of the whole to another Group Company of [HoF] provided [HoF] acts as surety to the assignee Group Company."

The onward assignment to Stores was not completed, HofF and Management maintaining that the provision for HofF’s guarantee was unenforceable. K/S sought specific performance of the agreement.


The Court of Appeal was asked to consider two questions:

  • Was the requirement in the agreement, for HofF to stand as guarantor for Stores, void under section 25(1) of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995?
  • If the lease was assigned from Management to Stores, could Stores insist on reassigning it to Management under clause 3.15(F) of the lease?


The Court of Appeal held that the agreement that HofF stand as guarantor for Stores, having stood as guarantor for Management was void and unenforceable under the 1995 Act:

  • Section 5(2)(a) of the 1995 Act releases the assignor (Management) from its obligations under the lease on a valid assignment to an assignee (Stores)
  • Section 24(2) of the 1995 Act releases the assignor’s guarantor (HofF) “.to the same extent as the [assignor] is released from the tenant covenant..”
  • Section 25(1)(a) of the 1995 Act makes it clear that any provision that ‘frustrates’ the operation of section 24(2) of the Act is void: that includes any provision that requires the assignor’s guarantor to take on a liability that it would otherwise be released from under the Act;

As a result, any contractual arrangement (in an agreement, lease, licence etc) which imposes such an obligation, is void; and K/S cannot insist that HofF act as a guarantor for Stores; but it could insist on specific performance of the separate clause in the agreement which required an assignment to Stores. (This ruling was not challenged by the defendants in the Court of Appeal.)


Lord Neuberger MR at para 21:

"If a landlord could (a) when granting a tenancy, impose an obligation on the tenant's guarantor to guarantee the liability of the assignee in the event of an assignment, and (b) on an assignment by a tenant, enforce that obligation, it would, as a matter of ordinary language, "frustrate" the operation of section 24(2). If it were otherwise, it would mean, for instance, that a landlord, when granting a tenancy, could require a guarantor of the tenant's liabilities, on every assignment of the tenancy, to guarantee the liability of each successive assignee. Such an obligation ("a renewal obligation") would plainly be wholly contrary to the purpose of section 24(2), as it would enable a well-advised landlord to ensure that any guarantor was in precisely the position in which it would have been before 1995 Act came into force."

Additional points

In view of the uncertainty arising from the Good Harvest decision, the Court of Appeal went on to consider:

(1) Whether any guarantee offered by the assignor’s guarantor

Was always void? The court held that, although it was not commercially attractive and inhibited the parties’ contractual freedom, nonetheless s25(1) of the 1995 Act required that interpretation. In part the court rejected the ability freely to offer a guarantee because of the possibility of argument at a later date as to whether such offer had been made voluntarily or as a result of landlord pressure, and in part that section 25(1) is concerned with the "effect" of an agreement and not the purpose behind it.

(2) Whether the assignor’s guarantor can guarantee the assignor’s AGA? The Court of Appeal has confirmed that the tenant's guarantor can validly guarantee that tenant's liability under an AGA.

(3) Finally, the court looked at whether the assignor’s guarantor could act as guarantor for subsequent assignees even if it could not validly act as guarantor for the immediate assignee. It concluded that this would not be void under s25(1)(a) of the 1995 Act, as it would not have the effect of frustrating the release of both assignor and assignor’s guarantor on the first assignment.


Guarantee of AGA 

EMI Group v Prudential

[2020] EWHC 2061 (Ch)


Properly construed, a commercial lease that obliged the tenant's guarantor to guarantee the tenant's continuing obligations under an authorised guarantee agreement if the lease was assigned, did not offend against the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995. 


HMV was the tenant of the former HMV Store on London’s Oxford Street, under a lease granted in June 2000 for a term of 25 years. EMI was the guarantor of HMV’s liabilities under the lease.

In April 2011, HMV assigned the lease to Forever21 Ltd.  HMV gave the landlord, Prudential, an authorised guarantee agreement – an “AGA”.  By the operation of the provisions in the Lease, EMI guaranteed the AGA with a “GAGA”.

In January 2013 HMV went into administration and was dissolved in October 2015. Forever21 failed to pay the June 2019 quarter’s rent and service charge and entered into administration in September 2019.

Prudential claimed the outstanding rent and service charges from EMI, under its GAGA, (by way of service of a notice under section 17 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 (the 1995 Act) and EMI responded by disputing it was bound by the GAGA.


EMI sought declarations from the court that:

1.         Both the GAGA and the wider guarantee in the lease of which it forms part are void as they fall foul of section 25 of the 1995 Act.

2.         Alternatively, EMI was released from its on-going obligations under the guarantee and the GAGA on the dissolution of HMV.

3.         Alternatively, the benefit of the guarantee did not pass to Prudential when it became landlord (this claim was abandoned by EMI). 


EMI, the guarantor, was unsuccessful.

1st declaration

Much of the court’s decision turns on the specific wording of the lease itself.

The lease provides that "the guarantor covenants with the landlord that while the Principal is bound by the tenant covenants of this lease" the guarantor (EMI) will pay the rents and comply with the tenant covenants and indemnify the landlord against any costs or expenses etc. arising as a result of the Principal's failure to pay the rents and otherwise comply with the tenant's covenants.

EMI’s first argument was as to the meaning of “Principal”. Clause 1.1 of the lease stated:

"Principal" means the person who is or is to become the Tenant and whose obligations under this lease and any authorised guarantee agreement the Guarantor has been required by the Landlord to guarantee but shall not include any successor in title".

EMI argued that this means in effect, that it has bound itself to guarantee future tenants’ liabilities which breaches the anti-avoidance provisions of the 1995 Act

Referring to the interpretation tests set out in both Arnold v Britton [2015] UKSC 36 and Wood v Capita Insurance Services Ltd [2017] UKSC 24 the judge stated that she did not consider the wording of clause 1.1 to have:

“the effect of creating a void embedded guarantee under the 1995 Act. However, in any event, I would be prepared to omit the words "or is to become".

EMI’s second argument was that the word “while”, in the phrase “while the Principal is bound” in the guarantee clause “allows for the possibility that an AGA given by T1 could be extinguished when T2 assigns to T3 but then reignited if T3 reassigns the lease back to T2” and gives rise to a contingent liability (unlike phrase, for example, such as "until the Principal is released") and so falls foul of the anti-avoidance provisions of the 1995 Act. Again, the court disagreed: 

“In my view "while" in this context was clearly intended to mean a single period when the tenant is bound by the covenants and does not contemplate a future and unlikely assignment back to that tenant. It is perhaps here that the validation principle does have some role to play in that there are two competing constructions and I prefer that which validates the provisions in question in the Lease. In my view it is an entirely realistic construction.”

EMI’s third argument was that the release of HMV and EMI was not “to the same extent”. Section 24 of the 1995 Act requires that, on an assignment of a lease, the tenant’s guarantor is released “to same extent” as the tenant.  Under the terms of this lease, Prudential could only require HMV to give an AGA if it was reasonable, but if it decided to demand an AGA from HMV, EMI automatically had to give the GAGA.  As the AGA and the GAGA only arise on an assignment, which is the prima facie termination of the tenant’s and guarantor’s on-going liabilities, EMI contended that it was not released “to the same extent” as HMV if (unlike HMV) it had no opportunity to convince Prudential that was unreasonable for it to give its GAGA.

The court disagreed; the 1995 Act focussed on the termination of the tenant’s and guarantor’s liabilities, not the circumstances in which those liabilities were imposed, even where those liabilities are an AGA and a GAGA, created in accordance with the provisions of the Act. 

The judge cited Lord Neuberger’s comments in K/S Victoria Street v House of Fraser Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 904 that:

“There appears to be nothing inconsistent with section 24(2) if the assignor's guarantor is required to guarantee the assignor's liability under the AGA: the guarantor is released to precisely the same extent as the assigning tenant."

The judge construed the lease in a way that did not offend the 1995 Act, but she made it clear that, had it been necessary to do so, she would have excised the offending words in the lease “to the extent that” they offended the 1995 Act itself. If the words left over did not make any sense, then she would have ‘read in’ (under s25 of the 1995 Act) any additional words necessary to prevent the removal of any void words from emasculating the remainder of the clause, relying on Tindall Cobham Ltd v Adda Hotels [2014] EWCA Civ 1215, rather than taking the approach advocated by EMI as laid down in Egon Zehnder Ltd v Tillman [2019] UKSC 32.

2nd declaration

The second declaration sought was that as HMV has been dissolved, EMI has no liability as the guarantee provides that EMI's liability only exists "while the principal is bound". The court disagreed; other provisions within the lease made it clear that in the circumstances of dissolution of the tenant the guarantor’s liability would continue.

Guarantor’s liability under lease

Consent order

Lee v Sommer

[2015] EWHC 3889


The landlord failed to serve notice on the guarantor under s17 of the 1995 Act. Notwithstanding that fact the guarantor agreed to a consent order for payment of sums under the guarantee on the tenant’s default. When the failure to serve the s17 notice was spotted by new solicitors the guarantor applied to have the consent order set aside.

The attempt failed. It was held that the consent order did not fall foul of the anti-avoidance provisions in s25. As a settlement agreement, it was a genuine compromise of litigation between the parties concerning the recovery of sums under the guarantee.


Assignment to guarantor

Precluded by s25

EMI Group Ltd v O & H Q1 Ltd

[2016] EWHC 529 (Ch)


An assignment by a tenant to its guarantor is void. It breaches the anti-avoidance provisions in s25. As a result any such assignment does not vest the lease in the guarantor and both tenant and guarantor remain bound by their obligations.

Relevant statutory provisions

In outline, for leases granted on or after 1 January 1996, the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 provides that where the lease has been assigned in accordance with the terms of the lease:

  • The assignor is released from its obligations under the Act (s5)
  • The assignor’s guarantor is also release “to the same extent” (s24)
  • The assignor can be required to enter into an authorised guarantee agreement guaranteeing the performance of the tenant covenants by the assignee (s16)
  • There is no equivalent of s16 for the assignor’s guarantors
  • There is a strong anti-avoidance provision (s25)


The landlord (L) of retail premises let them to a tenant (T) for approximately 25 years. T’s obligations under the lease were guaranteed by G (G).

T went into administration and L granted a licence to assign from T to G, and the deed of assignment was completed on the same date. Also on that date G underlet the premises.

Shortly thereafter, G claimed that although the assignment and underlease were valid, L could not enforce the tenant’s covenants against G relying on the judgment in K/S Victoria Street v House of Fraser (Stores Management) Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 904 – see above, in which Lord Neuberger said:

“[a] lease could not be assigned to the guarantor, even where both tenant and guarantor wanted it. Lord Nicholls said in Avonridge [2005] 1 WLR 3956 (see above), para 16, that section 5 was "intended to benefit … tenants … . That is [its] purpose. That is how [it is] meant to operate." So, too, section 24(2) is meant to benefit guarantors. It can therefore be argued that, where the assignor and the guarantor who want the guarantor to guarantee an assignee, or who want the lease to be assigned to the guarantor, such a renewal, or such an assignment, would not "frustrate the operation of any provision of [the 1995 Act]".

T was subsequently dissolved and, L argued, the lease was now vested in the Crown as bona vacantia.


  • Whether the Landlord and Tenant Covenants Act 1995 prevents a tenant’s guarantor becoming the assignee of the lease?
  • If it does, is any such assignment that takes place void, or does the lease vest at law leaving the tenant covenants in the lease, post assignment, void and unenforceable?


The High Court (Amanda Tipples QC) found for the landlord. The Act prevented an assignment to a Guarantor and the purported assignment was void. The Court considered, in some detail, the comments of:

  • The House of Lords in Avonridge Property Co Ltd v London Diocesan Fund [2005] UKHL 70 as to the “the mischief at which [the Act] is aimed [ie] the continuation of liability long after [assignment]” and the need to regard of s25 of the 1995 Act as a “comprehensive anti-avoidance provision”;
  • The High Court in Good Harvest Partnership LLP v Centaur Services Ltd [2010] EWHC 330 (Ch), that a guarantee given by the assignor’s guarantor for the assignee is void; and
  • The Court of Appeal in K/S Victoria Street, that an assigning tenant’s guarantor cannot be required to guarantee the assignee.

The Court went on to conclude that the 1995 Act prevents a tenant assigning to its guarantor. This was because the “whole thrust of the Act” is to prevent the “re-assumption or renewal of liabilities, whether on the tenant or the guarantor…the guarantor cannot as a result of assignment by the tenant to it of the tenancy re-assume those very same, or essentially the same, liabilities as tenant”.

The argument that the Act allows the assigning tenant’s guarantor to be released as guarantor and then resume liability as tenant on an assignment to it failed as “in practical terms … there is no release at all for [the guarantor] in respect of its liabilities under tenant covenants". In other words, the guarantor is bound to the same extent upon assignment as it was before assignment, and accordingly such an assignment is caught by section 25.

The guarantor’s argument that the lease was valid, but the covenants void and unenforceable as a result of such an assignment was “unbalanced as well as 'emasculated and unworkable’".

The Judge commented “the fact that such a conclusion is unattractively limiting and commercially unrealistic is neither here nor there”.

As the lease remained vested in T notwithstanding the assignment, G’s liability under the guarantee remained intact. That was the case even though the tenant had gone into liquidation and the lease vested in the Crown bona vacantia.


This is the first case where Lord Neuberger’s obiter comments in K/S Victoria Street - see above - have been followed and provides useful clarification of the impact of T assigning to T’s guarantor.


Recovery from original tenant

Notices under s17 of the 1995 Act - outstanding rent review

Scottish & Newcastle plc v Raguz

[2008] UKHL 65


Where there is an unresolved rent review, the ‘fixed charge’ for the purposes of serving notices under s17 of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 is the pre-review rent, i.e. the rent due and payable on each rent payment day.

The additional rent (payable after the completion of the review) is a new and separate fixed charge that becomes “due” under s17(2) on the date of determination of the review. It is not therefore necessary to serve s17 ‘wait and see’ notices within 6 months of each original rent payment date for the undetermined portion of the reviewed rent, as envisaged by the Court of Appeal.

The forms

Form 1: The first notice is more straightforward and is referred to in s17(2), which states that the:

    "former tenant shall not be liable under .. the covenant to pay any amount in respect of any fixed charge payable under the covenant unless, within the period of six months beginning with the date when the charge becomes due, the landlord serves on the former tenant a notice informing him - (a) that the charge is now due; and (b) that in respect of the charge the landlord intends to recover from the former tenant such amount as is specified in the notice ..".

Form 2: The second notice is referred to in s17(4) and is designed to deal with the situation where the liability is subsequently determined to be for a great amount than the sum referred to in the Form 1 notice. It assumes service of the first notice under s17(2) and then a further notice under subsection (4) when the greater amount is subsequently determined. An obvious example is where there is an undetermined rent review at the time of service of the Form 1 notice. So far as is relevant, sub-section (4) states:

    "(4) Where the landlord has duly served a notice under subsection (2) .. the amount which the former tenant .. is liable to pay in respect of the fixed charge in question shall not exceed the amount specified in the notice unless-
      (a) his liability in respect of the charge is subsequently determined to be for a greater amount; (b) the notice informed him of the possibility that that liability would be so determined, (c) within the period of three months beginning with the date of the determination, the landlord serves on him a further notice informing him that the landlord intends to recover that greater amount from him .."

The Form 1 notice contains a paragraph that envisages the possibility of the service a second notice and states as follows:

    "There is a possibility that your liability in respect of the fixed charge(s) detailed in the schedule will subsequently be determined for a greater amount. (See Note 4 below.)"

That note states:

    "Delete this paragraph if not applicable. If applicable (for example, where there is an outstanding rent review ..) a further notice must be served on the former tenant .. within three (3) months beginning with the date on which the greater amount is determined."

The issue

The issue before the courts was whether a landlord:

  • May simply wait until the rent is determined after the rent review and then only serve a Form 1 notice; or
  • Must serve a Form 1 notice at the normal rent payment date (advising that there are no arrears but that the review is ongoing) and then serve a Form 2 notice after the rent review has been completed (as envisaged by paragraph 4 of the notice and the note).

The trial judge and the Court of Appeal held that the latter applied. They said that protective s17(2) notices should be served on the original tenant within six months of the rent payment dates, even though on those dates the tenant was not in arrears and the rent review was still undetermined, and even though serving such protective notices may prove “a burden on landlords and could seem pointless and inconvenient for original tenants” (Lord Justice Lloyd, para 35).

House of Lords

The House of Lords overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal by a 3:2 majority. Lord Scott of Foscote, giving the main judgement, said that in his view s17 contemplated a sum that had become payable but was unpaid, for the recovery of which an action could be brought against the current tenant. Where there was an uncompleted rent review, the rent that became due and payable on each payment day was the pre-review rent. That was the “fixed charge” “now due” for s17 purposes.

The additional rent over the period from the rent review date until the determination of the revised rent was a new and separate fixed charge that became “due” for s17(2) purposes on the date of the determination. Form 1 contained provisions supporting that construction but also provisions that seemed inconsistent with it. In Lord Scott’s view, the draftsman responsible for paragraph 4 had not thought through the implications of his assumption that the additional rent would be part of the “fixed charge” due on each payment date. Lord Scott added that he was not dissuaded from this decision by:

    “… the argument that the absence of earlier notice to the original tenant of his accruing potential liability in respect of the additional rent would fail to give the original tenant the protection that the 1995 Act intended …”


    “Every original tenant can be expected to know from the contents of the lease that he entered into that the lease contains provision for periodic rent reviews and will know that there will almost invariably be an interval before the revised rent is determined. An original tenant would expect to be put on notice of any default by the current tenant in paying the rent as it falls due for payment and of the amount of the default but would not, surely, expect to be given notice of what is contained in the lease and available for anyone to read. The original tenant would surely not expect to be given notice of a process under which nothing is yet due and in respect of which there is no default on the part of the current tenant.” (para 44)

Lord Hoffmann, concurring with Lord Scott remarked that the view of the Court of Appeal:

    “… produces some remarkably silly consequences. For example, as the judge pointed out, whenever there is an overdue rent review, a landlord who wishes to preserve his rights against a former tenant will have to serve a notice saying that nothing is presently unpaid and that he does not intend to recover anything from the former tenant, but that his liability may be determined to be for a greater amount. It is hard to believe that Parliament intended this to happen.” (para 10)


The majority decision will be welcomed by landlords, though it possibly does not accord with the underlying rationale of section 17. It also means that paragraph 4 of the Form 1 notice, and the Form 2 notice, are now effectively redundant in this context.


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