A dentist who was evicted for being late with his rent has won a legal dispute with his landlord.
The court ruled that the late payments did not amount to a repudiatory breach of contract and so the eviction was not justified.
The dentist had a contract with the NHS which paid him on a monthly basis in advance of treating a set number of patients. The dentist paid his landlord half this money for the use of the premises.
If in any given month the NHS didn’t send enough patients, the dentist would return the excess amount paid to him.
The dentist began to receive fewer patients from the NHS, meaning he had to return some of the money paid to him on a more regular basis.
He informed his landlord that he would no longer be able to pay him half of the NHS money at the start of each month.
Instead, he would pay him half of the money he received on the work he had completed. He would pay the landlord any money owed when he was in a better financial position.
The landlord terminated the contract after three months and evicted the dentist from the premises. The dentist claimed the landlord wasn’t entitled to terminate the contract and took legal action.
The court ruled that the landlord was wrong to evict the dentist after just three months; there should have been a six-month notice period.
The landlord took the case to the Court of Appeal but it also ruled in favour of the dentist. It pointed out that the dentist did intend to pay the full amount owed when his financial position became more stable.
The late payments did not amount to a repudiatory breach of the contract.
The dentist had made his intentions clear and continued to pay the landlord what he could afford at the time.
The only real harm the landlord suffered was the immediate access to the money. He had failed to establish any further consequences suffered because of the late payments.