Denis J Garrity and Lorna Richardson, Dilapidations and Service Charge

Date01 September 2020
Published date01 September 2020

It is sometimes said that when it comes to commercial leases, rent is just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is significant financial exposure for the tenant in the form of repairs, dilapidations and service charge. Denis Garrity and Lorna Richardson have produced a highly useful, concise, and readable textbook on dilapidations and service charge. It is written in plain English, is well set out, and has a most helpful index, and deals thoroughly with the subject matter. It is a textbook which has been much needed for too long. The book gives a very helpful and comprehensive overview of the commercial property market and the common law, or set of default rules that apply in the absence of specific provision within the lease document itself.

The subject of fixtures and fittings, which has been a mystery to many practitioners and students, is treated in depth, and the authors have provided much needed insight into what is and is not a fixture or fitting, and who is responsible for these. There is also detailed text on the distinction between what should be the premises exclusively leased to the tenant and what should be defined as common parts of a larger entity of which the premises form part, who is liable to carry out repairs and maintenance, and how these are dealt with in service charge provisions in a typical lease.

Particularly helpful is the section on determining whether the premises leased are in the condition required by the lease at the relevant time, which is usually towards the end of the duration of the lease; the authors make the important point, backed up with case law, that a tenant is entitled to take account of the increasing age of the premises, so that they do not have to hand back the premises in exactly the same condition as they took them on in the first place.

The book gives a very in-depth treatment of various important court decisions, and helpfully explains the reason for various clauses and for the treatment of a range of topics in commercial leases. There is a highly valuable section on principles of interpretation of contracts and leases which is useful for the practitioner to bear in mind when dealing with specific lease clauses. One greatly important point that the book makes is that while one can expend much energy revising and negotiating a repairing obligation in a lease, there are other “hidden” repairing obligations scattered through the lease such as in the clauses dealing with title compliance, statutory...

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