The dangers of DIY leases

Gemma. March blog photo

The dangers of DIY leases

It may be tempting for both landlords and tenants of commercial properties to try and save money on legal costs by dealing with the matter between themselves. There are a number of downfalls that a landlord / tenant may fall foul of. Commercial property Solicitor, Gemma Eastham, looks at the pitfalls.

SDLT liability – tenants

Whether SDLT will be payable will generally by determined by whether a premium is being paid for the grant or assignment of the lease, the value of the annual rent per annum and the length of the lease.

Where no SDLT is payable, a tenant may still be required to notify HMRC (submit a return to HMRC).

Failure to submit a return and pay the duty (if any) within 14 days of the effective date of the transaction will lead to a fixed penalty of £100 and interest being charged on any SDLT and if the date of submission is more than 3 months after the filing date, the fixed penalty will increase to £200.

When do you need to register a lease at H.M Land Registry?

Leases granted for a period of more than seven years and certain other types of leases need to be registered at HM Land Registry.

It is worth pointing out that any easements contained in a lease, such as rights to access the demised premises through common areas or the use shared facilities, i.e car parks, will not take effect at law unless they are registered, even where the lease itself does not require registration.  For a tenant, it is therefore important to ensure that any registration requirements are adhered to.

Unwritten tenancies

Unwritten tenancies are dangerous for both parties to a commercial tenancy because there is no clear record of the terms that have been agreed.

A landlord, for example, will have no right to forfeit the tenancy in the event of a breach of the terms of the agreement because an express forfeiture clause is required for this.

With a business tenancy it is important to ascertain whether the agreement is within the security of tenure provisions contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the right for the tenant to renew the tenancy at the end of the term).  If there is no express clause excluding these provisions in the agreement and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 has not been ‘contracted out’, the tenancy will be deemed to be within the Act.

This means that the tenant will generally be entitled to request a new lease from the landlord at the end of the contractual term of the existing lease. The landlord would only be able to bring the tenancy to an end by serving notice on the tenant in the prescribed form, which requires the landlord to give the tenant not less than 6 months’ notice.

This may affect any provisions which have been agreed between the landlord and tenant.

For example, a landlord and tenant may have verbally agreed that either party can bring a lease to an end by giving one month’s notice to the other party. Legally, the landlord would not be able to rely on this provision and would need to follow the above statutory procedure (6 months’ notice).

The full extent of this topic could be covered in something far longer than a blog, but these are some key areas that both landlords and tenants should consider before proceeding. Seeking appropriate legal advice at the outset could potentially save a landlord and/or tenant money in the long run. Legal advice is always recommended.

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.



What are your employee rights when you are asked to relocate?

Q: My employer has told me that I need to relocate to a different workplace. What are my rights and am I able to insist on a salary increase to compensate?


The starting point here will be your contract of employment. Your contract will say either:

  • that you are contracted to work in your current location; or
  • that you are contracted to work in a location as directed by your employer.

This is called a ‘mobility’ clause and, if your employer is able to direct you to work in a different location to that you work at currently, you may not be entitled to any increase in salary to compensate for additional travel expenses or inconvenience.

Whether you are able to argue for an increase will depend on how reasonable the change in workplace is; if the new journey will be long or complex, or prove significantly more expensive, you may argue that it is an unreasonable request. This may allow you to claim more successfully for additional financial support.

If you are contracted only to work in your current location with no ability for your employer to move you at their discretion, your employer is not able to force you to do so and it is up to you whether or not you choose to move. You may be able to claim for a redundancy payment if your workplace is to close altogether, in addition to any payment you are entitled to under your contract for your employer terminating your employment.

You are only entitled to compensation if it is provided for under your contract.


If you are not subject to a contractual mobility clause and choose not to move, you may be entitled to a redundancy payment if you match the necessary criteria; specifically, if you have worked for your employer for over two years and if you will not receive any other financial compensation because of your decision not to move.

Your employer may offer you an alternative job as part of the process and you must not unreasonably refuse this in order to qualify for a redundancy payment. For example, if you are offered suitable employment at another location nearby to which you could travel, it may be unreasonable to refuse.

It may be reasonable for you to refuse an offer of alternative employment if the change would result in a much longer or more complex journey, relocation or affect your family in some way, such as requiring children to change schools.

Resolving a dispute

You may find that you need to raise a dispute with your employer in order to find the best course of action. If you are unable to reach agreement through an informal conversation, you should instigate a grievance procedure, allowing you to formally discuss your concerns or complaints with your employer.

You are entitled to be accompanied to any meetings by either a colleague or trade union representative; the grievance procedure should be set out in writing by your employer, for example in a company handbook, HR manual, employment contract or other internal communications such as an employee intranet. You can expect to need to set out your grievance in writing which will be followed by a meeting (or a series of meetings). Your employer should offer the opportunity to appeal any decision.

A new employer

The same rules apply even if your workplace is closing following a company acquisition by another business. The purchasing company will take over the operations of your employer subject to your employment under the ‘Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006’. Your employment cannot be terminated as a direct result of a company sale.

Paul Aynsley, partner at MBH, deals with employment matters and will be happy to discuss any issues affecting your role or redundancy. Contact Paul to make an appointment on 01942 206060.


About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Paul Aynsley to discuss your litigation or other legal requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors