Legal Q&A - Property with Colman Coyle

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Related tags: Renting, Landlord, Leasehold estate, Safety executive

Is a temporary rent reduction possible? Q I'm finding it difficult to pay my rent but I don't want to default on my lease and lose my pub. I've heard...

Is a temporary rent reduction possible?

Q I'm finding it difficult to pay my rent but I don't want to default on my lease and lose my pub. I've heard about landlords sometimes accepting a lower rent, albeit on a temporary basis. How I can go about agreeing this please?

A​ It's relatively straightforward to document a rent concession and it can be done by either a side letter or personal side deed. However, the landlord is likely to expect you to meet legal costs and any admin fees in the preparation of this and you would be best advised to seek independent legal advice before entering into anything.

Also, the landlord may seek some additional benefit for this agreement, such as an additional rent review or a widening of the beer tie. It may also expect any rent shortfall is made up at the end of the concession and it is not uncommon for interest to be charged on this amount. Ultimately, there is no legal obligation for a landlord to grant a rent concession so the short term costs saved may be far outweighed by the long-term negotiated compromises and fees payable.

Gas safety checks

Q My wife and I recently let the residential flat above our pub. I've been told by the letting agent that as landlord I must carry out gas safety checks. How can I find out what I need to do and how often?

A​The Health & Safety Executive says: "As a landlord, you are legally responsible for the safety of your tenants in relation to gas safety. By law you must: repair and maintain gas pipework, flues and appliances in safe condition; and ensure an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue and keep a record of each safety check.

"You should also keep tenants informed about their responsibilities while they are staying in your property." To find out more information log onto the HSE's website that has specific guidance and information for residential landlords in relation to gas safety: www.hse.gov.uk/gas/landlords

Must I pay to get rid of Knotweed?

Q A customer reckons we may have Japanese Knotweed growing to at the end of our beer garden. I've heard it can be really difficult and expensive to get rid of and as a tenant I don't want to be lumbered with the costs. What can I do?

A​ It is actually a criminal offence to plant or otherwise encourage the growth of knotweed and the "encouragement" of growth extends to the failure to get rid of it in a suitable manner. Further to this, you could find yourself liable for any damage caused to your neighbour's land which is caused by the weed.

Knotweed can cause rapid damage to both land and buildings, for example its root structures can push through concrete and can extend to three metres below the soil.

The government has recently given the green light for a trial natural programme of introducing a psylid into the eco-system that can control knotweed.

More information can be found at: www.cabi.org/japaneseknotweedalliance/

In the meantime, you should consider appointing an expert to advise if you do have knotweed in your beer garden and if so how best to remove it.

Related topics: Licensing law, Property law

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