The Law In Relation To Forfeiture

Author:Ms Linda Conway
Profession:Dillon Eustace

1. Introduction Landlords often experience difficulties with a tenant during the term of a lease. Such difficulties can arise as a result of breach of a covenant or condition in a lease, such as failure to pay rent or to keep the property in good repair. The most appropriate remedy in this situation is forfeiture. 'Forfeiture' literally means the deprivation of a person of his or her property as a penalty for some act or omission. This update outlines the current position in Ireland in relation to forfeiture from the perspective of both landlord and tenant, paying particular attention to the grounds for forfeiture, the enforcement of forfeiture and the reliefs available. 2. Grounds Forfeiture arises in one of three ways: By disclaimer, which arises where a tenant disputes the landlord's title. This generally arises only during ejectment proceedings where in its defence the tenant denies the landlord's title; By re-entry or ejectment for breach of a condition in the lease. Forfeiture can be affected in this situation even if there is no provision made for re-entry in the lease itself; and By re-entry or ejectment where there has been a breach of a covenant in the lease. This may be distinguished from forfeiture for breach of condition, as a lease may be forfeited for breach of a covenant only where a re-entry proviso is included in the lease. Most modern leases should contain comprehensive re-entry provisos to ensure this option is available to the landlords. 3. Procedure Where a landlord believes that the tenant is in breach of a covenant or condition in the lease, it must notify the tenant of this and give the tenant a reasonable opportunity to remedy the breach before the right to forfeiture will arise. The form of notice which must be served on the tenant is set out in Section 14(1) of the Conveyancing Act 1881, as amended by Section 35 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1967. This section states: "A right of re-entry or forfeiture under any provisions or stipulation in a lease, for a breach of any covenant or condition in the lease, shall not be enforceable, by action or otherwise, unless and until the lessor serves on the lessee a notice specifying the particular breach complained of and, if the breach is capable of remedy, requiring the lessee to...

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