Our legal helpline gets a lot of questions from clubs concerned about not having a formal written lease for premises and grounds they have been merrily occupying for decades. But is this actually a problem?
If you exclusively occupy space and pay rent for it, it is likely that the law will infer that you have some form of tenancy or lease (the two terms are used interchangeably). The length of this tenancy will generally be by reference to how often you pay, for example, if you pay annually then you may have an annual tenancy or if you are paying monthly you may only have a monthly tenancy.
Protecting your rights
The law does afford general protection for business tenants (including not for profits and sports clubs) through the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Under this, even where a Landlord does not wish to grant you a new tenancy, you may still have the right to apply to the courts and have the court grant you a new lease of the premises at market rent.
The only way to benefit from this protection is to have a tenancy or a lease. To ensure that the protection is afforded to you, it would be best to enter into a written agreement with your Landlord soon and not wait until problems arise as by this point they probably won’t be in the negotiating mood! The 1954 Act can be excluded by agreement so not all leases benefit from it.
Benefits of a written agreement
In addition to the potential benefits of the Landlord and Tenant Act, a written agreement can provide multiple benefits over informal agreements:
- Securing and clarifying your rights, obligations and boundaries
- Outlining the duties your Landlord owes to you, and having something to hold against them
- Some leases are drafted to include the way disputes are to be solved, allowing for more effective and speedier solutions
In other words it makes sense to look into agreeing a written lease if you don’t have one in place.
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]