On 5th December 2018, the Supreme Court handed down judgement in the case of S Franses Limited (Appellant) v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd  UKSC 62. This is the final word on a case relating to the necessary intention to develop required by a landlord to satisfy the test in section 30(f) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
To rewind slightly, this provision gives a Landlord the right to recover possession of his premises from a protected business tenant if the Landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises. This is widely used to remove tenants from development sites.
The issue is always over what the Landlord needs to prove to demonstrate intention. The lower courts in this case had reached the conclusion that it didn’t matter if the works were not practical or commercial, all that mattered was that the Landlord intended to do them. So, if the motive for the works was simply to get the tenant out then that was ok.
The Supreme Court has allowed the appeal and has disagreed with the lower courts. The landlord’s intention to do the works cannot be conditional on the tenant’s occupation. So, any scheme created in order remove the tenant will fail. They didn’t go as far to say that that landlord’s motive was crucial, but it is clear that motive will indicate the landlord’s intention and the conditionality of that intention.
There has been lots written about the lower court’s earlier decision suggesting that this was the end of the protection for tenants under the 1954 Act. After this key decision it is clear that the 1954 Act is very much alive and kicking.
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