<CCLast week we looked at a landlords rights under a commercial lease where the tenant left the property and stopped making rental payments mid way through a lease.

Our firm brought the matter before the Tamworth Local Court before the lease term expired.

In short there were three periods in which the court had to consider the landlord’s right to damages under the lease.  To recap they were as follows:

  1. the time between the tenant ceasing to make rental payments and surrendering the keys;
  2. the time between the tenant surrendering the keys and the date the matter was brought before the court; and
  3. the time between the court date and the end of the lease which was not due to expire for a further six months.

In the first period, the tenant simply owes the landlord the rent not paid, as discussed last week.

In regard to the second period, the landlord could recover the unpaid rent because he was entitled to be compensated as though the contract had been completed without default.  During this period however, the landlord needed to show that he had taken reasonable steps to mitigate his loss. This meant demonstrating that steps had been taken to encourage other tenants to lease the empty premises.

The third period is legally tricky.  For that period, the court could not be sure that the landlord would continue to advertise the property or that the premises would remain empty.

There is no NSW case law on the point.  We researched and relied on a Western Australian case of Luxer Holdings v Glentham which stated that:

Where the matter is decided in court before the term of the lease expired, the normal damages are the total rent that would otherwise have been paid, less any amount the landlord has, or is likely to obtain, as profits from the use of the premises until the date the lease would have otherwise expired.”

We were able to prove that the landlord had taken all possible steps to mitigate its loss up to the date of the court hearing and that it was unlikely that the landlord would obtain any profit from the premises between the date of the court hearing and the expiry of the lease.

Our client was awarded the full value of the rent that he would have been paid had the tenant stayed in place until the end of the lease.

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of commercial leasing please contact Everingham Solomons, because Helping You is Our Business.

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