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Ground (f) Redevelopment: When Unconditional Intention Appears to be Conditional

Amy Sevier, Associate in the Property Dispute Resolution Team at SA Law, comments

The case of S Franses Ltd v Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd [2017] EWHC 1670 (QB) caused a stir when it confirmed that a landlord could devise a scheme of ‘redevelopment works’ specifically to meet the requirements of ground (f) (‘the redevelopment ground’) so as to regain possession of premises from a tenant with protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 – an act which is commonly referred to as giving ‘Security of Tenure’.

In January the Supreme Court confirmed that it would allow a ‘leapfrog’ appeal on the points surrounding the long established distinction between intention and motive because they are considered issues of public importance. Both landlords and tenants wait with great interest to see how the case develops.  

The Background
S Franses was the tenant of ground and basement premises on Jermyn Street which it used as a retail art gallery. It’s landlord, the London Cavendish Hotel, occupied the rest of the building and wished to regain possession of the unit let on two separate leases.

When the tenant served its request for new leases, the landlord responded with a counter notice quoting redevelopment. In essence the landlord was denying the tenant its right to new leases because it said that it intended to demolish or reconstruct the premises (or a substantial part of them) on the termination of the current tenancies. If the landlord could prove this intention then the court would not grant the tenant a new lease.

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