Does a landlord have a right of entry to commercial premises to carry out repairs, where a tenant in breach has failed to do so?
The answer is surely a simple one!
Unfortunately not; this area of law is uncertain.
The first point to make is that faced with uncertainty, it is extremely important for a landlord to reserve such a right of entry in the written lease.
If no such right is reserved and the landlord or its workman enter the commercial premises to effect a repair, there is a strong possibility that they will commit a trespass, which entitles a tenant to a claim in damages.
The tenant is entitled to exclusive possession, (in other words, exclusive occupation, even against the landlord).
Arguably, there is no implied right of entry, even where the tenant is in breach. The landlord’s remedy is to seek an order from the Court for specific performance by the tenant of his/her repair obligations (or to forfeit the lease).
Having said this, some commentators take a different view and argue that a covenant to repair carries with it an implied right for a landlord to enter the commercial premises to inspect and effect the repair; the landlord must exercise this right reasonably and provide adequate prior notice.
Also, situations where an emergency repair is needed are cited; where a repair is urgently needed in the commercial premises, without which significant damage would be occur to the main building or parts occupied by other commercial tenants.
Whilst the above-stated uncertainty it is not what commercial landlords want to hear, the recommendation has to be that in each case of tenant disrepair, legal advice should be taken.