Renting a shop, roof is leaking in 4 areas Landlord not fixing. Can we exit lease?

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    Renting a shop, roof is leaking in 4 areas Landlord not fixing. Can we exit lease?

    Good morning, new poster here. Apologies for the long post but we are experiencing a few challenges with a commercial landlord.

    My partner is the tenant in a commercial property with two flats above. She operates an ethnic grocery store from a rented ground floor shop. There are a number of issues.

    1. The landlords' son locked us out of an area we had been paying rent for, he previously told us this area was not covered by the lease and had stored his personal stuff there since we took the lease during 2016. We came back one-day last year and he had screwed a hasp and staple on the door, jammed it up with a metal bar and basically took over this area. This door was leading to an area that we thought was our fire exit. I broke the lock off and complained to the landlord as we assumed the door he locked was out the fire escape. The son has since removed his stuff and we have now put our things in the area. Furthermore, we were denied access to this area by the landlords son for a number of years without knowing the storage area area was covered by our lease and was in fact ours to use. The son knew this but nonetheless told us we could not use the area on a number of occasions. The roof is leaking in this area and has been for a number of years. We keep asking the landlord to repair the roof, they say it will be done, but it has not been repaired or replaced and water now leaks onto our stored items. There is no damage to the items as they are mostly tools and stuff that is stored in waterproof boxes, however the leaking roof means we cannot store food items or basically whatever we want in this area.

    2. There is a garage/workshop at the rear which my partner was told was her fire exit when she took the lease on. The landlords son has stored loads of stuff in this area including boats and jetskis which block egress. The electric roller shutters to this garage are wired to our electricity, as is a damaged plug socket, and on a number of occasions the landlords son has used the electricity (our electricity) to charge his boat battery, and to power other electrical items when he is in the workshop. We complained about this and also the state of the electrics inside the garage which are connected to our shop electric as they look dangerous with exposed copper wires hanging out of the socets and roller door controls. The electrics inside the workshop have not been repaired or disconnected from our supply, and despite telling us this would be done, over 10 months ago, the electricity has not been separated. The son uses the workshop infrequently, however, the landlord does not seem to want to separate the electricity.

    3. There is no electrical safety certificate for the premises. My partner says she was never given a certificate. We are now having problems with electric tripping out. An electrician friend attended and said the wiring was wrong from the mains to the consumer unit and most probably the whole place needs to be rewired. No certificate was given when my partner took the lease through a letting agent. Is the landlord responsible for the electricity and safety certificates?

    4. The roof started leaking in the staff only kitchen area of the shop a few days ago, the whole of the roof at the rear of the property needs to be replaced, it covers the rear workshop that we do not lease and also part of the upstairs flats, which are owned by the landlord and leased out to private tenants. The kitchen leak is coming from the roof which needs to be replaced and now also down the sides of the walls insode the kitchen. We sell food items and need to have first-class hygiene, which cannot be achieved if the roof is leaking. The roof needs to be repaired and no leaks or drips present, even if no customers go into the kitchen or consume food we cook in the kitchen. Water has gathered and puddled on one of the ceiling boards and is now also running down inside the walls. I have a video of me cutting a hole in the ceiling and discovering that it was made of chipboard and that rainwater came out of the hole.

    5. There is an internal store room which has a number of roof leaks which come through the ceiling, rainwater also runs down the wall of this storeroom. This was reported many times since 2019 and despite 'patch up jobs' the roof has not been repaired properly and the leaks are getting worse. This means that the room is unusable by us to store stock.

    6. Recently, the roof which covers the bay front of the shop has developed a number of leaks, the fascia at the front of the shop is also leaking. The rain comes in and has ruined the suspended ceiling and drips into the shop. Rainwater collects at the entrance doorway inside the door, it drips onto our front internal display window area so we have had to remove stock from display in this area, rainwater also comes in and drips on our counter and electrical items such as printers and routers. We reported this a month ago and the landlord sent a builder to inspect the damage. The builder has told me that the whole fascia and roof needs to be replaced with new. Yesterday one of the builders staff members came to inspect the Kitchen leak and during conversation he slipped up and said the landlord will not be fixing the front of the shop.

    7. The landlord has been renovating and repairing the flats upstairs and a new tenant has taken over one of the flats. It seems the landlord has spent money to get the flat suitable for tenancy but is neglecting the shop. We now pay £1200 per month in rent after my partner (before we were together) agreeing to a new 7 year lease and an increase of £200 per month during 2019. The rent seems too high and the landlord will not do the repairs.

    8. We have never been given an Asbestos Certificate and have no idea if any survey has been done, is this the landlord or tenant's responsibility?

    9. The washing machine in the upstairs flat had previously leaked water everywhere which caused the ceiling to collapse in the rear part of the shop, it was reported to the landlords' son and my partners' ex did a very poor patch-up job. This was during 2019. The landlords' son never reported it to his mother (the landlord) and nobody has been to repair the ceiling. It also appears that water is still making the ceiling wet from the flat upstairs. The ceiling is dangerous, albeit my partners ex did the repair. There are huge wholes in the ceiling from the washing machine leak upstairs.

    10. My partner is foreign, she does not understand her lawful obligations or rights with regards to the tenancy. I have the lease and it appears to be a standardised Law Society lease from OYEZ LS1 (PART)(UNREG)2008/4.


    We want to get out of this lease due to the unreasonable behaviour of the landlords' son, the many leaks and disrepair and also the lack of urgency or care regarding the repairs and the leaks.

    From a health and safety perspective, the premises are not in any way suitable or in a condition for us to operate and be fully legally compliant and therefore we should really close until the work is completed.

    We cannot display our goods in the front display window. We cannot use the storeroom inside the shop, we cannot use the storage area at the rear and the staff Kitchen is now also unusable.

    I have suggested that we close the shop immediately and charge the average daily takings to the landlord until the repairs are done.

    I have estimated that the total cost of repairs and new roof, upper guttering, shop fascia, and the electrics and roof rear workshop areas will be around £60k to the landlord.

    I have the impression that they won't pay for the repairs to be done and will keep us hanging around.

    There are 5 years remaining on the lease which expires in August 2026. I believe the landlord is taking advantage of my partners lack of understanding and will not complete the necessary work.

    At present we have £20k+ worth of stock in the shop, 6 freezers full of frozen food, and all of our fixtures and fittings. We can operate a limited service through online sales, however our main customer base is foot traffic and people who eat minority ethnic foodstuffs.

    How should we approach the issue with the landlord? Our daily takings vary from over £1k to £250 per day. The business is a limited company.

    We would happily walk away with 3 months' notice on a no cost or other charge basis and vacate the premises leaving it in the condition it was when she took it on.

    The repairs required will mean that we have to close for a number of weeks to enable the work to be done.

    Should we write to the landlord and give them 3 months to do the work otherwise we consider the lease terms to be broken on their part?

    The landlords' son is a villain, 6ft+ and weighs about 27 stone, and is notorious for intimidation and bullying. Unfortunately for him, I am a retired police officer and now train professional boxers and therefore his intimidation and bullying do not work. I want to act reasonably and in accordance with the law, however, the landlord and her son are now taking the proverbial and the matter needs to be addressed.

    There are a lot of issues with this property that need to be addressed, I just want to know where we stand as tenants and whether we need to close immediately, and get a solicitor to sort out the business interruption payments etc.

    Any advice will be gratefully received, thank you :-)

    #2
    bumped for some advice please :-)

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