Timothy Taylor v Mayfair House Corporation has affirmed that landlords must take steps to minimise disturbance to tenants during construction work, even when the right of the landlord to undertake this work is expressly reserved in the lease concerned.
The case involved a business lease of several floors of a building by a gallery in Mayfair. This lease contained a clause granting express permission for the landlord to alter or rebuild the building, even if the tenant’s enjoyment of the property was affected. The landlord then proceeded to renovate the building, causing serious noise disturbances and erecting scaffolding which impacted the business of the gallery. The tenant argued that the landlord was in breach of the covenant for quiet enjoyment implied in all lease agreements by law, having not taken the necessary care to minimise disturbance to the tenants.
The court declined injunctive relief but awarded the tenant damages, holding that though the landlord had the right to carry out this work, it was obliged to take all reasonable steps to minimise disturbance to tenants, taking into account:
What specific knowledge the tenant had of the work at the commencement of the lease
Financial compensation from the landlord, for example a discount in the rent
Whether the works solely benefited the landlord or tenants as well
This is an important case for any landlord looking to renovate their properties, demonstrating that even with an express right to build they must still be considerate of tenant’s rights. Informing tenants of specific work to be carried out before entering into a lease could also help to minimise liability.
An important point for tenants to note is the court’s refusal to grant injunctive relief from the scaffolding and noise affecting his business. Especially in the case of tenants operating a business from their property, an award of damages may often be of less concern than the effects of the work on trade. In light of this, tenants may prefer to seek more explicit protection in the terms of their lease.