In a decision handed down by the High Court in February 2014, a judge ruled that a tenant was not entitled to claim an injunction against its landlord for carrying out works that would damage the tenant’s business.
In Century Projects Limited v Almacantar (Centre Point) Limited, the tenant held a lease of the top three floors of Centre Point Tower at Tottenham Court Road which it used as an elite restaurant and private members’ club. The landlord needed to carry out external works to the cladding of the tower, which involved the erection of scaffolding at the top floors. This scaffolding would obstruct the view from the restaurant and so the tenant sought an injunction, arguing that the obstruction would severely damage its business and was in breach of the landlord’s express covenant for quiet enjoyment. However, the landlord also had rights under the lease to carry out works without obtaining any consent and was under an obligation to carry out repairs to the external parts. Whose rights/obligations would prevail in court?
It was decided that the landlord was required, in a reasonable way to balance its duty to carry out repairs with its obligation not to interfere with the tenant’s enjoyment of the demised property. In the present case, the court felt that the tenant would struggle to persuade a court at trial that the landlord had acted unreasonably as it had chosen to follow a method of works that was consistent with clear professional expert advice. Consequently, the judge declined to award an injunction however left the tenant free to pursue a claim for damages should it wish.
This case really highlights the need for landlords and their solicitors to consider possible conflicting obligations when agreeing a lease, as there may be ambiguity which could prove costly and time consuming if brought to court. Likewise, tenants should be aware of this fact and think about the property they are leasing, and whether any proposed external works will affect their business and how they can protect themselves through the lease provisions.