The recent case of Jafari v Tareem Ltd concerned a dental practise (J) and a landlord (T) who had undertaken extensive redevelopment of the remainder of the building.
T’s work took about 19 months and involved extensive scaffolding that partly blocked J's practise. T waived rent for the period of the works. However, J alleged that the works had caused a significant loss to his practice and took the dangerous step of withholding rent.
T brought a claim for the outstanding rent. J counterclaimed for breach of quiet enjoyment and nuisance.
For the claim, noisy works had been carried out outside of agreed hours and no account had been given to J’s practice when scaffolding was erected. However, due to the rent waived, the court decided that T had taken all reasonable steps to minimise the disturbance. J was, thus, ordered to pay the outstanding rent.
For the counterclaim, J was awarded a sum remarkably close to the damages awarded on the claim. This was partly based on a loss of amenity which the court, on these facts, tied to 15% of the passing rent.
While there had been a decline in trade during the period of the works, the court was not persuaded that this was caused by the works. Thus, no damages were awarded for this element of the counterclaim.
This provides some insight as to how courts assess damages in cases involving breaches of quiet enjoyment and nuisance. It also provides a further warning to tenants who are prepared to take the considerable risk of withholding rent when a landlord is perceived to be in breach.
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...the Judge evidently thought that for Tareem to have waived 100% of the rent for the duration of the works was sufficient offset for the inconveniences suffered by Dr Jafari. I do not think I can possibly conclude that that was a conclusion no judge could reasonably come to...