Removal of tenants, fixtures and equipment at the end of a lease

November 19, 2014

in Property

Property: Unit Titles Act 2010We often receive queries around tenant’s and landlord’s right and obligations at the end of a lease.

One of the primary considerations is removal of tenant’s property from the premises including plant and equipment at the end of the lease.

The lease normally contains provisions regarding the rights and responsibilities of each party on this issue.

A recent case in the High Court has shown the difficulties of enforcing what normally seems to be simple understandings.

The case in question concerned a lease in the customary ADLS format.  The provision in the lease that dealt with the issue of removal of tenants property at the end of the lease gave the tenant the right to remove its property at the end of the lease and was required to do so if the landlord requested removal.  The tenant had five working days after the date of termination to carry out the removal, if not, the landlord had the option of either taking ownership of property or removing it and recovering any costs from the tenant.

In this particular case the tenant was in default and the landlord had cancelled the lease.  The tenant failed to remove the property within the five day period and the landlord refused to release the equipment after that time.

The tenant brought proceedings to recover its plant which was of significant value and was actually in excess of the amount that the tenant owed the landlord for arrears of rental.

Some time ago the law was changed removing the landlord’s right of distraint which was the right of the landlord to hold the tenant’s goods for any amounts owing to the landlord.  The tenant alleged this was an illegal distraint or alternatively that the landlord had converted the goods and had not allowed the tenant reasonable time to remove the equipment.

The Court found in favour of the landlord and held that the tenant failed to remove its property within the time limit specified in the lease.  Even though the value of the plant and equipment was in excess of what was owed to the landlord the Court allowed the landlord to hold on to the plant on an undertaking not to sell the plant until the landlord had completed its proceedings for recovery of money owing by the tenant.

The case is an important reminder that even at the end of the lease landlord and tenant issues can arise and it is wise for both landlords and tenants to get proper advice as to their rights and obligations at the end of any lease to avoid problems arising and the consequent disadvantages in costs associated with litigating those issues.

Farry and Co. are experts in all aspects of commercial leasing and can advise you as a landlord and tenant on these issues.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Paul Farry
09 379 0055 or 03 477 8870


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain.

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