Home » Property Disputes » Break Notices

Break Notices

What is a break notice?

A break notice is a written notice that can be sent to terminate a commercial lease. This is a contractual option available to a landlord or tenant (or both) that can be included in the lease to allow the party to terminate the lease before the usual contractual expiry date.

Break notices can regularly lead to conflict, as landlords can capitalise on any errors and force the tenant to remain for the remainder of the term or pay a premium. Seeking legal advice when drafting or dealing with a break notice is crucial.

How do you prepare and serve a break notice?

It is highly important that break notices are prepared and sent strictly in accordance with the lease. As they are contractual notices, rather than statutory notices, the lease will govern their form and how they are served on the other party. Failure to follow the provisions of the lease can result in the notice being deemed invalid.

Are there time limits to consider when serving a break notice?

There are usually very strict time limits for serving a notice and they will align with the contractual break dates. The provisions of the lease relating to the break and deemed service of notices will need to be checked carefully to ensure compliance. Usually no less than 3, 6, or 12-months’ notice will need to be given. Failure to miss a deadline by a day will render a notice invalid.

Are there usually conditions attached to the option to break?

Usually, a commercial landlord will insist on there being conditions attached to a tenant’s option to break. There is no limit on the type of conditions that can be inserted, but can include:-

  • Payment of all rents or the annual rent and VAT;
  • Vacant possession or leaving the property free from occupation and third-party interests;
  • Material compliance with the lease terms or certain important terms;
  • Payment of a premium.

Failure to comply with a condition precedent will render the break invalid and parties should always seek legal advice as to the extent of these important conditions.

How to negotiate a break clause

A landlord and tenant should seek legal advice on the terms of their intended break clause when heads of terms are being agreed or the initial draft lease is being circulated. If the break clause is too restrictive and difficult to achieve, then it may be worthless to the tenant. If the break conditions are too weak, then the landlord can be left in a vulnerable position and not have much security.

Does a landlord need to consider security of tenure rights?

When inserting a landlord’s option to break a commercial lease it is always imperative to take legal advice as to the impact of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. The break option will be worthless unless the tenant’s statutory security of tenure rights is also dealt with at the outset of the matter.

What should a landlord do if they believe the tenant’s break notice is invalid?

If a landlord considers that a tenant’s break notice is not valid or if any of the pre conditions have not been met, then it is essential that they take urgent legal advice as to the options available to them. The landlord can be in a position to negotiate a surrender at a significant premium if the tenant urgently needs to terminate the lease and their break right has been lost.

How to deal with dilapidations once a break notice has been served

A tenant should consider their dilapidations liability as part of their decision on whether to serve a break notice.

A landlord should take advice from a solicitor and surveyor experienced in dilapidation claims as soon as they are in receipt of a break notice. Usually, a terminal schedule of dilapidations will be served without prejudice to the effectiveness of the break notice.

If you need any advice on break notices, please contact a member of our property disputes team or on 02920 829 100 for a free initial call to see how we can help.

To speak to one of our experts today, please contact us on 02920 829 100 or by using our Contact Us form for a free initial chat to see how we can help.

Contact Our Team
Kate Heaney
Senior Associate
View Profile
Patrick Murphy
Senior Associate
View Profile
Rhodri Lewis
View Profile
Siôn Fôn
Senior Associate
View Profile

I have worked with Darwin Gray for a number of years and the level of service, professionalism and timely response is second to none. I would highly recommend Darwin Gray to any business.”

Becs Beslee
Dice FM Ltd

Darwin Gray have provided us with a first-class service for many years now. They really take the time to understand our business and develop relationships which results in advice and support that is contextualised and effective.”

Rebecca Cooper
ACT Training

We have worked with Darwin Gray for several years and have always found their services and advice to be first class.”

Karen Gale
Stepping Stones Group

An extremely professional and sincere company who make time for your queries and understand the need to break down certain facts and information to ensure everything is understood perfectly. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking for any type of legal advice”

Gwawr Booth
Portal Training Ltd

PSS has worked with Darwin Gray for many years. We have always received an excellent service. Prompt and professional advice and support.”

Ledia Shabani
Property Support Services UK Ltd

We have used several departments within DG recently and we have been very pleased with an effective, efficient and down to earth service. Very happy thus far and I expect that we will continue to use DG.”

Guto Bebb
Farmers’ Union of Wales

Darwin Gray offer us truly superb services. Very professional, quick and services available bilingually which is very important to us, highly recommend.”

Iwan Hywel
Mentrau Iaith Cymru

My “go to” in urgent and time sensitive cases for direction, support and advice. The team are quick to respond to calls or emails for advice and support on all matters. Always explain complex matters in a way a lay person can easily understand.”

Margot Adams
Guarding UK Ltd

Darwin Gray have acted for myself and my company over a number of years and at all times we have been treated with a professional manner yet maintain a common-sense approach at all levels. We couldn’t recommend them more highly.”

Simon Baston
Loft Co

We have been clients of Darwin Gray for many years; they’ve always dealt with all of our legal matters with such professionalism. They work around us, even during awkward hours, and we feel confident we can always rely on them.”

Louise Williams
ACT Training

Darwin Gray has been acting for Siltbuster for more than ten years. We would have no hesitation in recommending Darwin Gray to other organisations small or large.”

Richard D Coulton
Siltbuster Ltd

From the very first conversation, I had no doubt that Darwin Gray should be the firm to receive our instructions on this matter. I would have no hesitation in recommending Darwin Gray.”

Sandra Warr
Tomos TV

We regularly instruct Darwin Gray. Their service in dealing with our transactional matters and disputes is always professional, prompt and efficient.”

John Poppleton
Absolute Property Management Solutions Ltd

Darwin Gray guided me through a long and extended process that would have been much more difficult had it not been for their patience and constant support.”

Ifan Lewis

Excellent and efficient service. Great result achieved, highly professional and transparent on pricing. Would recommend.”

David Stevens

Superb legal service provided. Exceeded expectations. They went above and beyond in order to provide the best service possible.”

Huw Pickrell

Very professional and understanding. They were a calming influence in a very troubling situation and they brought it to a very successful conclusion”

Rachel Jones

We have used Darwin Gray and have been seriously impressed. The personal approach is what Darwin Gray are excelling on and is the reason why we will continue to work with them in the future.”

Cadwyn Housing Association