The Court of Appeal recently overturned a decision because it “showed bias against the landlord”(1).
The tenant served a s.26 notice to obtain a new tenancy. The landlord opposed this on ground (g) i.e. occupation for his own purposes. He intended to occupy the premises as a solicitor’s practice and minicab business which he also owned. The first instance judge rejected the claim but failed to apply reasoning for the decision. The Court of Appeal stated that for ground (g) to apply the landlord must show:
(a)A fixed and settled desire to do what he says he intends to do, ‘out of the zone of contemplation and in to the valley of decision’(2).
(b)There was a reasonable prospect of being able to bring about the desired effect including a real chance or reasonable prospect for planning permission for the proposed change of use.
On both the subjective and objective element of Mr Ahmed’s intentions, Richards LJ said Judge Mitchell’s ruling must be set aside.The Court of Appeal decided that the landlord had a clear intention to occupy which was backed up by ‘unequivocal evidence’.
On the objective test, the Court of Appeal found that there was a real prospect of occupation which was not illusory or short term. Under current planning legislation, the landlord could occupy a premises under Class A2 (the use of a premises for Professional Services). The Court held that original decision was made based on the misinformed conceptions of the witnesses rather than the evidence at hand. The case was sent back to be heard by a different judge.
The decision was favourable to the landlord in this case but it is timely reminder to on the legal requirements for rejecting s.26 notices.
Gulf Agencies Ltd v Ahmed  EWCA Civ 44
Quoted from the case of Cunliffe v Goodman  2 KB 237