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Commercial property lease expired.... 6 years ago

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My parents own a commerical property - a 100m2 shop in Kendal which has been used to sell furniture (by 2 different leaseholders) for many years (20+).

The current occupants took on a lease in 2012 for a 3 year term. My parents were of the understanding that it was a rolling lease and the rent should be reviewed every 3 years. Its been increased once since the start of the lease.

I am taking on the management of the property. My parents understood the lease to be due for rent review in January so during my introductory telephone call with the Director of the company occupying the property I mentioned the need for this and that I felt we should defer any review/increase until post lockdown, requesting an independent valuation, with any change applying from later in the year. He was concerned at what this might mean and also went on to explain that there is no lease in place - it had expired i.e. no action was taken after the initial 3 year term by either party to extend/renew the lease - and that he understood the existing arrangement to be one of an amicable/informal nature and on the one occasion that the rent had been increased, an inflationary uplift was suggested by my parents and accepted. 

My parents and I have no issues with the current occupants, they look after the property and pay the rent due however I feel very uncomfortable for the company and us that there is no lease in place that sets out our respective responsibilities. In addition, it appears that advertised properties for rent in the current market are at least in the £10/sqft area whereas the rent payment is more equivalent to £5/sqft - obviously raising rent during lockdown/covid feels inappropriate, however the rent appears to be way below current market rents.

Any help or advice much appreciated!  


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