Tenant with environmental health issues.

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  • Tenant with environmental health issues.

    We rent out light industrial units and empty, enclosed yards to small businesses. Recently we took on a tenant who runs a skip-hire business. They have 2 skip lorries and a bunch of skips. Filled skips are brought back to site and the rubbish sorted, and taken to the scrap yard.

    THe problem is that the environmental health department at the council keep pestering us about the tenant's various licenses and obligations. They say that the landlord is responsible for enforcing the law that applies to his particular business. I say that the skip company is the one who has the obligations. We just rent him the yard.

    Who's right? Are we supposed to act as nurse maid to the tenant?

  • #2
    I have no experience with commercial property but if a tenant in one of my residential properties was using/farming/dealing cannabis, I would be liable as landlord if I was aware that something was going on.

    In your case, there is reasonable doubt, particularly if someone as official of the council is raising the issue.

    But, as I say, commercial may differ from residential in this regard.

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    • #3
      I have two thoughts on this (I also have no experience of commercial property).
      - Does the property have the relevant planning permission and class of use to be used in the way its being used?
      - What does the agreement state about the usage of the property?

      If the former is yes, and the latter states that the property can only be used in accordance with the way it has planning, I would have thought this would defer to the tenant.

      That said - I agree with tatemono that the council flexing their muscles on it would worry me, and if you have been made aware explicitly that your tenant is not acting in a lawful way, common sense would dictate that you should intervene. The council may well just be chancing their arm but either way do you want a tenant in who is acting unlawfully?
      Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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      • #4
        I dont know the specifics of waste usage at a site but I believe a waste permit would be needed to transport the skip contents. However as long as the site has the appropriate planning permissions it is really a matter between the tenant and the council. I would say it is for the council to enforce not the LL. How could the LL intervene? The council can enforce and stop the operation if necessary.
        Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

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        • #5
          islandgirl if the council do enforce and start criminal proceedings, could the landlord not be liable on the basis that he was warned that something was not right?

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          • #6
            I am not a lawyer but a commercial property LL and I would say if the council KNOW about it (ie the LL is not keeping it a secret from the council) then it is between the council and the tenant. Having no waste permit is a matter prosecuted by the local authority (not the Police) I believe but the tenant could well land up in court. However I do not see how the LL is liable. The onus is on the council to stop the waste company trading by taking action. Clearly this would have an implication for the LL (no rent??!!) so he may well wish to act but my view is that he would be under no compulsion to do so. However that is just my personal view and opinion!
            Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

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            • #7
              I see where you're coming from. Maybe non-criminal acts don't involve the landlord even if the LL is aware.

              But we're all speculating and the OP needs to know what to do. Perhaps try a specialist lawyer?

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              • #8
                the site itself already has the necessary permissions which are just technicalities such as the yard surface being impervious to liquid contaminants etc. The actual storage, processing and transport of the waste is down to the operator, ie tenant and they have to hold the necessary licenses.

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                • #9
                  Though I am not an expert I would agree. The council can enforce against the operator if they do not hold the correct licences. I do not see how they could enforce against the LL. That would be like a domestic LL being hauled into court for having set up a cannabis farm in his tenanted property....As for what to do - yes the usual advice - consult professional planning consultants / lawyers who specialize in waste matters. Perhaps also have another chat to the council - try to keep them onside - and explain nicely that the ball is in their court!
                  Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
                    That would be like a domestic LL being hauled into court for having set up a cannabis farm in his tenanted property
                    I assume you mean the T setting up the farm, not the LL ;-)

                    well, yes, that's my point. If you as LL are aware that there's a drug farm in your property, you could be held criminally liable if you did nothing about it:

                    http://www.cover4letproperty.co.uk/g...annabis-farms/


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                    • #11
                      Yes that is what I meant. In this case the Council do know about it. So there is no more the LL needs to do in my humble opinion. It is up to the Council to enforce. I agree totally that if a LL knew there was a cannabis farm in his property and did not tell the police he would be in trouble...
                      Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

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                      • #12
                        Chain and padlock went on the entrance this week as they've just entered their 3rd month of rent arrears.

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                        • #13
                          Interesting. I take it that preventing access doesn't equate with illegal eviction for commercial as it does with residential then.

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                          • #14
                            Different rules for commercial thank goodness....wish you well superstardeejay - do they have equipment in the building?
                            Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

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                            • #15
                              There's no building, it's a yard. Currently there are around 30 skips full of stinking rubbish and quite a bit strewn around the yard.

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