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Published on: 3 June 2024

The possibility of suspending the lease enjoyment

Until recently, the view prevailed that, in principle, a landlord may not suspend his obligation to provide rental enjoyment if, for example, the tenant fails to pay his rent. This view was based on the idea that a rent once suspended cannot be reversed once the rent arrears have been paid. However, the Supreme Court has recently ruled that this idea is incorrect and that under circumstances a landlord may suspend the provision of rental enjoyment. In this article, you will read more about the possibility of suspending the enjoyment of rent.

The facts

A landlord leased business premises to a tenant from June 2016 for a period of five years. The tenant stopped paying rent beginning in January 2019 and finally left the premises in May 2019. Then, in early July 2019, the landlord replaced the locks because he saw no reason to provide further rental enjoyment. Eventually, after several months, the landlord leased the premises to a third party.

The landlord demanded dissolution of the lease and an order for the tenant to pay rent from the time the rent arrears occurred until the time the business space was leased to a third party. The tenant claims a declaratory judgment that the landlord acted unlawfully by replacing the locks and seeks damages.

The Supreme Court

In its ruling, the Supreme Court considered that there is no rule that denies the landlord the right of suspension – due to the inability to reverse the provision of rental enjoyment during the suspension. The Supreme Court emphasized that a lease is a reciprocal arrangement, whereby one party is entitled to suspend the performance of its obligation when the other party fails to perform its opposite obligation. It is not required that these mutual obligations relate to the same period of time. For example, the payment obligation arising from the lease agreement will usually cover an earlier period than the obligation to provide rental enjoyment.

Can a landlord now simply suspend the enjoyment of rent?

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that suspending lease enjoyment is possible, this does not mean that the landlord may simply replace the keys to the leased property. In fact, if it turns out afterwards that the suspension was unjustified, the landlord may be held liable for failing to fulfill his obligation to provide rental enjoyment. This may result in an obligation for the landlord to compensate the damage – suffered by the tenant as a result of the suspension.
The Supreme Court itself also emphasizes that this case is characterized by the fact that the tenant stopped paying rent and voluntarily left the premises himself. If in doubt about the legality of a suspension, the landlord would do well to take the matter to a professional.


Do you have questions about the suspension of rental enjoyment or other issues regarding rental law? Then contact one of our lawyers by mail, telephone or fill in the contact form for a free initial consultation. We will be happy to think along with you.

Articles by Koen Wanders

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