Landlord can withhold consent to planning permission

Every landlord and tenant relationship is governed by the terms of the lease between the parties. In many commercial and residential leases, a tenant must often apply to the landlord for consent to carry out work or take steps in relation to the property. In many cases the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold such consent. The Supreme Court recently considered this issue in a case where a tenant of a commercial property had converted some of the property into self-contained flats.

The tenant applied for the landlord's consent to apply for the necessary planning permission for this work. The landlord refused consent on the basis that if most of the building became residential use (as opposed to commercial), this would enable the tenants to acquire the freehold of the property from the landlord under statutory provisions which permit this. The landlord argued that the risk of losing the freehold, devalued the property.

The tenant argued that such a refusal was unreasonable. What is interesting about the case is that the County Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal all agreed with the tenant's view. However, the Supreme Court allowed landlord's appeal and said that 'a down-to-earth factual analysis of the economic consequences to the landlord of giving or refusing the required consent… Plainly suggests that a refusal is reasonable'.

Every case will turn on its own facts and will depend on the terms of the lease between the landlord and the tenant. It is always advisable for a tenant to be clear as to the position in relation to consents required under the lease prior to carrying out any work or spending significant sums on a property.

To discuss this or any other landlord and tenant related matter, contact us.