With the launch of the Protocol for Applications for Consent to Assign or Sublet it seems an ideal time to touch upon the issues commonly surrounding ‘landlord’s consent’.
Most leases contain ‘qualified covenants’ whereby the tenant is only permitted to do something if the landlord has first given its consent.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1988 (LTA) places obligations on the landlord, to give its consent except where it is reasonable to withhold it; once it receives a written application from the tenant for consent to assign or sublet. The landlord must also give its consent within a reasonable period of time.
What is reasonable?
The landlord is entitled to take into account:
A reasonable period of time is normally considered to be in the region of weeks rather than days or months.
Lessons for tenants:
If tenants believe that they are being treated unreasonably there are three possible courses of action:
Tenants must remember that the obligations of reasonableness are only implied into clauses relating to assignments and subletting, therefore in any other areas (such as alterations) where the landlord’s consent is likely to be required, express provisions should be made that the landlord’s consent cannot be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
Lessons for landlords:
Landlords should deal with any applications for consent in a commercial and timely manner in order to avoid the threat of court proceedings.
Landlords should set out any reasons for refusing to give consent in a written statement to the tenant. Landlords cannot add further reasons or justification at a later date.
Landlords also have three remedies against tenants who proceed without consent:
The above is by necessity a very brief description of what is in practice quite a complex area, therefore please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like detailed advice on any of the issues above.