A tenant’s quiet enjoyment vs a landlord’s right to develop. A comment upon Timothy Taylor Ltd v. Mayfair House Corporation and another  EWHC 1075 (ch).
The phrase quiet enjoyment does not only refer to the right of a tenant to enjoy peace and quiet. The implied right (often replicated expressly in leases) also means that a landlord cannot interfere with a tenant’s enjoyment of its leasehold premises and covers a variety of circumstances including unlawful threat of forfeiture. However, in the above case, the noise created by the landlord was key in determining whether the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment had been breached. Here the tenant of an art gallery objected to the disturbance caused by the landlord when exercising its right to develop the landlord’s building. Some six years after the grant of the tenant’s commercial lease, the landlord began renovating the remainder of its building, which the landlord was entitled to do under the terms of the commercial lease. The basis of the tenant’s objection was the excess noise and scaffolding which obscured the existence of the tenant’s art gallery. The court held that the landlord had unreasonably exercised its right to develop and had breached the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment. Rather than grant an injunction, the court awarded damages of 20% of the rent payable under the tenant’s commercial lease as the court considered it impractical to halt the works which had well progressed. Given the factors that a court may take into account, developers should be mindful of the following before commencing development:-
- A regard to the business/use of the tenants occupying the building.
- Ensuring that the works do not affect visibility, rights of access or passing footfall to the premises occupied by the existing tenants.
- The extent of any liaisons with the existing tenants as to the works and attempts to conduct the works to minimise the impact on those tenants.
- Whether it would be equitable to offer compensation to tenants for the duration of the works.
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