Posts Tagged ‘reinstatement’

Meaning of covenant to reinstate to ‘bare shell’ condition

September 19, 2022

AFH Hong Kong Stores Ltd v Fulton Corporation Ltd ([2022] HKCA 1243) concerned the interpretation of a tenant’s covenant to reinstate the demised premises to a ‘bare shell’ state on the determination of the lease.

The premises were retail premises over five floors of a building in the Central district of Hong Kong. When it took possession, the tenant removed the entire floor slab of one of the floors and part of the floor slab of three others. It installed lifts and staircases.

The lease required the tenant to yield up the premises to the landlord at the end of the lease, ‘in a “bare shell” good clean state of repair and condition on each floor of the Premises to the reasonable satisfaction of the Landlord’ (emphasis added).

The landlord contended that this wording required the tenant to reinstate the floor slabs it had removed while the tenant argued that it was under no such obligation.

There was, perhaps surprisingly if reinstatement had been intended, no express covenant to reinstate the removed floor slabs in the lease nor, so far as can be seen in the judgment, in any license to carry out the alterations.

There was, by contrast, a clause that gave the landlords the option to require the tenant to remove fixtures that the tenant added to the demised premises.

The Court of Appeal referred to the principles of contractual interpretation in the Court of Final Appeal in Eminent Investments (Asia Pacific) Ltd v DIO Corp ([2020] HKCFA 38).

It decided that the reference to ‘on each floor’ supported the landlord’s contention that the tenant had to reinstate the floor slabs that had been removed ([26.1] and [43]).

Michael Lower

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Obligations to repair and reinstate on the expiry of the term: written notice needed?

May 31, 2014

In L Batley Pet Products Ltd v North Lanarkshire Council ([2014] UKSC 27) L was the intermediate landlord and T was sub-tenant. The head-lease and sub-lease contained full repairing covenants and the terms of the head lease were incorporated in the sub-lease. Both leases required all notices to be in writing. L and T had entered into a Minute of Agreement authorising T to make alterations. The Minute required T to reinstate the property at the end of the term at the request of L and did not expressly require such notice to be in writing. The Minute stated that its terms should be deemed to be incorporated into the sub-lease.

L argued that oral notice that it required the alterations to be removed and the property to be reinstated at the end of the term was sufficient. T argued that it had no obligation to deal with dilapidations (breaches of the repairing covenant) nor to remove the alterations and reinstate the property because it had not received written notice before the end of the term.

Lord Hodge (with whom the rest of the Supreme Court agreed) dealt first with the dilapidations point. A repairing covenant in the form used here ‘imposes a continuing obligation on the tenant which does not require any notice for the landlord to activate it.’ ([14])

L should also be allowed to proceed with its claim concerning the removal / reinstatement. It was a question of the construction of the Minute of Agreement and he referred to the accepted approach to contractual interpretation ([18] – [19]). Looking at the clause in question in the context of the document as a whole and of the factual matrix he preferred the straightforward approach to the construction of the clause which did not expressly require notice to be in writing.

Michael Lower