Rhodesian Ridgeback Features in Commercial Lease Dispute

Commercial tenants engaged in a struggle with their landlords – which encompassed the presence of a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog on the land as well as planning and other issues – have failed to convince the High Court that they were entitled to terminate their lease early and have been ordered to pay £70,000 in damages.

The tenants used the premises for buying and selling second-hand cars. A dispute between them and the local authority had developed over arrangements for the delivery of vehicles to the premises. Due to those difficulties, which culminated in the issue of an enforcement notice, the tenants had purported to exercise their rights under a break clause and to terminate the lease early.

The Court was satisfied that the tenants had used reasonable endeavours to resolve the planning issue before giving notice of termination. It also rejected the landlord’s arguments that they had breached a covenant in the lease by keeping their pet dog on the premises in alleged breach of a ‘livestock’ ban.

However, the Court found that the tenants had breached the terms of the lease by failing to keep a fence in ‘good and substantial repair’. In those circumstances, they could not be said to have ‘observed and performed’ all the covenants in the lease and the notice of termination was therefore of no effect. They were ordered to compensate their landlords for their loss, which was agreed at £70,000.