For a tenant, it’s important to understand the use to which the premises can be put, as a breach of the user covenant could result in the Landlord seeking to forfeit the lease for breach of covenant.
If a tenant wishes to change the use to which the premises can be put, reference should be made firstly to the user covenant to ascertain whether the degree of control which the Landlord may have around a change of user. Is it an absolute restriction or is the landlord obliged to act reasonably and not delay when considering a request for consent to change the use.
The tenant should also be aware of the planning which exists for the premises, as even where a lease may allow for a change of use within the user provisions, if there is no planning for the use to which the premises are to be put, the Landlord may be able to restrict the substituted use as this would breach planning legislation.
Dealing frequently with licensed premises, we need to check not only whether the occupational lease itself will allow the premises to be used a public house, bar or restaurant, but that there is not an historic covenant in the Landlords’s title which restricts the sale of alcohol, which could be enforced by a third party.