If your club has been threatened with eviction by a landlord who claims you are in breach of your lease, firstly – don’t panic!
Take advice from a qualified solicitor or surveyor to ascertain whether or not you are in fact in breach of the terms of the lease. So long as you have a lease then even if you are in breach the law does usually give the tenants the opportunity to avoid forfeiting the lease provided they are able to rectify the breach and put things right.
A common example often includes payment of rent, where you will be given the opportunity to pay any arrears with some interest and the landlord will have no further right to forfeit your lease. Another common example revolves around repairs of the property. In this instance, the landlord should provide a reasonable amount of time after giving you notice of the breach to rectify whatever the defect is before being able to bring the lease to an end.
Licence but no lease
If all you have is a licence to occupy then frequently these contain an ability for the licence to be terminated on notice without giving any reasons. The only possible defence is to seek a declaration that the licence is in fact a lease based upon exclusive occupation of the premises by the club and that you should have the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
If this is the case, the court will look at the way you pay rent and decide the length of your lease in accordance with certain legal rules. For example if you pay annually, you will have an annual tenancy and if you pay monthly you will only have a monthly tenancy. The landlord can still give you notice to quit but you can then oppose that and claim the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act and apply to court for a new lease or compensation on vacating.
If you do only have a licence then you won’t have the same protection and will need to leave. Remember it’s not clear cut and many landlords hope they won’t be challenged when they serve a notice, so get legal advice as soon as possible.
Break right concept
Slightly different is the concept of the break right. This means in some leases parties can end the lease in certain circumstances, without breaching the agreement, when one party or the other serves a break notice. Sometimes there are conditions attached to this and sometimes there are not. Break rights do vary enormously and it is important to seek advice at the earliest opportunity to see whether or not any notice received is valid.
If you have any queries on what this means for your club, please call our dedicated England Athletics Helpline on 0845 050 8458 or email [email protected]