It was smooth sailing for 26 years between landlord and tenant until it became time to sell up shop. Alan Baston found a buyer for his store - Alan’s Corner Shop in Chesterfield - about 18 months ago. The store had been on a rolling lease for the past 15 years and Alan got along swimmingly with his landlord until he told him he wanted to sell up.
At this point it went decidedly pear-shaped. All the landlord would offer him was a four-year lease, which of course didn’t appeal to Alan’s potential buyer. Plus, he wanted to increase the rent by 50%.
“It’s £4,400 a year now (£85 per week) and he wants to put it up to £6,600,” says Alan, who then consulted a solicitor. “We offered him £100 a week in line with the other shops on the road.”
This advice cost him £400. And the landlord’s solicitor, so far, has not responded to Alan’s lawyer.
The lawyer told him that, if it went to court, he would be given a 10-year lease at the very least. Unfortunately, he can’t afford the fees.
So he then went to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents’ legal helpline and at the moment is waiting for claim forms. “She seems to think that we will have to take them to court.”
Alan is at retirement age and the store will need someone younger to take on the two Tesco outlets that it is wedged between (an Express on one side and a One Stop on the other).
And that younger someone is going to want more than a four-year lease.