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A Lessee's Responsibilities

Continuing liability.

When you take on a lease, whether as assignee (buying a lease from someone else) or as the original lessee (or tenant), you promise to pay the rent for the entire remaining term. If the lease contains rent reviews, then you will be liable for any increased rent also.

If, in the future, you sell what is left of the lease, you obtain a similar promise to pay the rent from your purchaser. His promise will only stay good for as long as he, or his purchaser, remains financially sound, can be located, and persuaded to pay up. If a subsequent owner of the lease falls into arrears, the Landlord may choose to ask you to pay the rent, including perhaps substantial arrears and costs. You may have then yourself to chase the next tenant for the same sum.

This risk is substantial, and many people have fallen into trouble from it. There is little you can do about it, except to avoid longer leases, to go into the transaction with open eyes, and to investigate your purchaser with as much care as does your Landlord.

On leases created after 1995, your liability may be limited to the debts run up by your own assignee, and not any subsequent one. This is a major improvement, but it is not entirely one way. The corollary is that landlords are now much more reluctant to agree to an assignment.


The liability for repairs is now usually put firmly on the tenant. If you take a lease of only part of premises, the responsibility for external repairs will be the Landlord's but you will have to contribute a proportion of the cost.

Repairs in many leases can also include what may turn out to be in fact substantial improvements to the property. You must make sure that you know precisely what your obligations under the lease will be, and carry out a full and proper survey of the property (even including parts of the premises, such as the roof for which you will bear only a proportion of the responsibility) before taking on the lease.

We can give you particular advice on your lease, but nothing is better than, or can replace reading the lease yourself. You must do so, and ask any questions.

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
All information on this site is in general and summary form only. The content of any page on this site may be out of date and or incomplete, and you should not not rely directly upon it. Take direct professional legal advice which reflects your own particular situation.
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18 October 2013 136 18 October 2013