The Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995 was a rare beast - a private members bill that received the backing of the incumbent government and hence passed in to law to remedy what was seen at the time as being a gross iniquity. Tenants of commercial 25 year FRI leases were being pursued many years after assignment for arrears of rent under the rule of privity of contract which made the original tenant liable throughout the term. The tabloid headings focussing on retirees being driven into penury forced some hasty legislation to relieve pensioners of this burden.
We are now living with the consequences.
Since the Act was passed the issue here (partners A, B C and D assigning to B, C, D and E) has been lurking in the background like a drunk uncle at Christmas - always likely to do something unwelcome but side lined by everyone on the basis that if nobody provokes the issue it may all work out alright in the end.
The legislation was a solution to a problem that has largely evaporated. The standard 25 year commercial lease has withered almost to extinction and typical leases are now around 7 years.
The original intention of the 95 Act was honest and genuine but the issues it has created have outlived its positive aspects and are causing problems for tenants, landlords and practitioners alike. It is long past the time when the Law Commission should come up with some polishing to make the Act work in the real world.
Q&A: Grappling with the 1995 Landlord and Tenant Act