You don’t have to hand over the keys to your shop or office just because the landlord says so
We are regularly instructed by tenants of commercial property where their landlord has requested the keys or served a Notice to Quit. To bring a business tenancy to an end in circumstances where the tenant is not in breach of covenant and the landlord has no rights to seek forfeiture, there are very exacting requirements set out in the Business Tenancies (NI) Order 1996 (“the BTO”) which a landlord must follow in order to secure vacant possession.
Under Article 6 of the BTO a Notice to Determine in a specific format must be served on the tenant not more than 12 or less than 6 months before the proposed date of termination. That date must not precede the end of the lease term. The Notice to Determine must set out one or more of a very limited number of grounds on which the landlord can rely.
If tenants do not wish to relinquish possession of the premises they should seek legal advice in relation to their rights before the final year of the lease term is to commence. A Tenant’s Request for a New Tenancy can be served under Article 7 of the BTO. Ultimately if the parties cannot agree on a new lease and/or its terms, either may apply to the Lands Tribunal for the determination of their dispute.