Tenant Entitled to Relief From Forfeiture Despite 14-Month Delay

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In the case of Pineport Ltd v Grangeglen Ltd [2016] EWHC 1318 (Ch) the High Court held that a commercial tenant was entitled to relief from forfeiture despite there being a 14-month delay in applying for the relief.

The commercial tenant whose long lease was granted for a premium had been forfeited by peaceable re-entry for non-payment of rent. The tenant sought relief from the High Court under the court’s equitable jurisdiction, 14 months after the forfeiture took place. The delay arose from a combination of different issues including the absence of specialist advice and a lack of money.

Relief from forfeiture is a discretionary remedy that is available to a tenant or any third party with an interest in the lease after a landlord has exercised its right to forfeit the lease. The High Court took a broad view and considered all relevant issues instead of treating the exercise as a series of thresholds, with delay being the initial hurdle. The court held that the tenant was entitled to relief but had to pay the landlord the rent arrears and costs within a reasonable period.

This decision highlights some practical points for landlords, in particular those who tend to regard six months from the date of forfeiture as a significant milestone when assessing the likelihood of a tenant applying for relief. The case illustrates that the comfort of this deadline can be illusory in certain circumstances.

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