04 March, 2008
"A recent decision of the House of Lords may have opened the door for thousands of tenants of offices and other properties originally designed to be used as homes to be given the right to buy their properties" says Tim Hollingsworth, commercial property specialist, at Forbes Solicitors.
The Leasehold Reform Act 1967 applies to residential and not commercial premises, however the House of Lords' decision suggests that in some circumstances commercial tenants may acquire the right to buy the properties they occupy.
The key to establishing this right centred on the Lords' interpretation of a 'house'. The Act defines a 'house' as being 'designed or adapted for living in' and one that can be reasonably called a house.
Of significance to commercial occupiers is the fact that the Lords gave the law literal interpretation and considered the possibility that a property that had originally been built with the intention that it be lived in, but had over time been adapted for another use, such as commercial, could still amount to a 'house'.
Tim notes that "this decision has potentially huge implications for both owners and tenants of commercial or mixed properties which were originally designed as, or adapted from houses. This is of particular relevance where the external appearance and original layout have not been significantly altered. It is now a case of monitoring closely what implications this decision will have and we therefore await developments with interest".