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End of life COPD care 'inadequate'

break

clause

in their lease

The break clause will usually specify one date only on which the tenant can terminate the lease. Multiple break options are rare but may be tied into the district valuer's assessment of the PCT rent reimbursement every three years.

It is normally a condition of the break clause that the tenant gives at least six months' prior notice in writing to the landlord to expire on a date no later than the break date. The lease will normally specify the address for service of the notice by the tenant. These provisions have to be strictly observed so if the notice arrives one day late it will be invalid. If the notice is sent to the wrong address, it will be invalid also but, if there is time, a fresh notice can be served.

But the observance of the time limits and the address may prove to be the least of the GP tenant's worries when faced with some break clauses that impose conditions that must be observed if they are not to subsequently invalidate a notice that was correctly served in the first instance.

The consequence of serving a notice that has become invalid by reason of circumstances can be severe because the tenant will be stuck with the lease for the rest of the term unless it can be assigned ­ that is, sold/transferred on to a third party.

Therefore, any conditions attached to a break clause are potentially dangerous for the tenant. Many break notices are conditional upon the tenant not being in breach of any of the terms of the lease. Most leases contain a hatful of obligations.

What the courts have said

Here are a few examples where the courts have upheld the landlord's contention that the notice was invalid:

·Repairs. In one case the tenant tried unsuccessfully on many occasions to get his landlord in to confirm the dilapidated state of his premises after serving his break notice. The landlord did not answer these requests. The day after the break date, the tenant was sent a letter by the landlord's solicitors pointing out the notice was invalid as the premises had been yielded up in a state of disrepair.

·Decoration. Most leases provide for the surgery to be decorated in the last year of the term. A Landlord can insist on this even if the surgery does not need to be decorated.

·Fully vacate. The surgery must be clear of all belongings as well as the tenant himself and his staff. The tenant cannot be clearing up on the morning of the break date.

·Reinstatement. The tenant is obliged to remove all the tenant's fixtures, partitioning, etc, so that the surgery premises are the same as at the start of the lease.

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