‘A Practical Guide to Forfeiture of Leases’ by Mark Shelton


Paperback: 978-1-911035-93-0
Published: March 2020
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Forfeiture of a lease can appear to the landlord as one of the more appealing remedies available to it for non-performance by the tenant. Simply changing the locks to recover possession is direct, simple, cheap and effective. All too often, though, that is just the beginning of the story, since the law relating to the forfeiture of leases is notoriously complex and archaic.

A particular problem is the law relating to waiver of the right to forfeit. It is potentially a valuable and important property right, but it can be lost by waiver on the landlord’s part very easily and inadvertently – indeed, even without the landlord either knowing that he had such a right or participating in the act of waiver. The risk of waiver distorts or prevents dialogue between landlord and tenant, and stands in the way of sensible negotiated resolutions to disputes.

The availability of relief from forfeiture, mitigating the harshness of the common law in favour of tenants, is something that few would complain about in principle. In practice, though, the existence of several jurisdictions for the grant of relief is unnecessarily confusing, and the outcome of applications for relief unpredictable.

For the landlord who wants to recover possession, the potential for a successful relief application means that outcome may well not be achieved. For the landlord who simply wishes to put pressure on the tenant to perform their obligations, on the other hand, the problem is that once done forfeiture is irrevocable, and the tenant may simply accept it and leave the landlord with a vacant property.

It remains, nevertheless, a remedy which can be very useful and valuable, and in some cases simply the only effective one. Those advising on it, whether solicitor or surveyor, and whether acting for landlord or tenant, need the practical guidance which this book provides.


Mark practised in major commercial law firms for thirty years, specialising in property dispute resolution. He has acted for businesses large and small, including FTSE-listed property companies and household-name corporate occupiers, across the whole range of property-related issues. He has advised upon forfeiture, and pursued or defended possession proceedings, on countless occasions.

He is now a full-time commercial property management law trainer, putting his expertise and experience to good use in training both lawyers and surveyors. He delivers training for providers including MBL Seminars, Central Law Training, Professional Conferences, CPT Events and Solicitors Group.

Mark is also the author of The Lease Guide website, which aims to provide helpful and practical guidance in an understandable and digestible format to small businesses taking a lease.


Chapter 1 – Forfeiture of Leases – Overview
Chapter 2 – When a Lease May Be Forfeited
Chapter 3 – The Decision Whether to Forfeit
Chapter 4 – Waiver of the Right to Forfeit
Chapter 5 – Matters Preliminary to Forfeiture
Chapter 6 – Forfeiture by Means of Court Proceedings
Chapter 7 – Forfeiture Without Going to Court
Chapter 8 – Relief From Forfeiture – Non-Payment of Rent
Chapter 9 – Relief From Forfeiture – Non-Rent Breaches
Chapter 10 – Documenting Settlements and Re-Letting
Chapter 11 – Forfeiture and Tenant Insolvency
Chapter 12 – Proposals for Re-Casting the Law
Appendix – Sample S.146 Notice and Particulars of Claim