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Leadmill management petition for suspension of Section 25 of Landlord And Tenant Act as dispute with landlord continues

By | Published on Thursday 14 April 2022

The Leadmill

The management team at Sheffield venue The Leadmill have set up a petition following the news that they are being evicted by their landlords.

That petition, on the UK Parliament website, is not just focused on the venue team’s own current situation, instead calling for a section of the Landlord And Tenant Act to be suspended pending a government review of how landlords are currently able to “expropriate” investments made by a tenant in any property that they rent.

It was announced last month that the current management team at The Leadmill will be evicted from their building next year. However, that doesn’t mean that that building will cease to be a venue. The property is currently owned by music company The Electric Group, which already manages venues in London and Bristol, and which plans to directly manage The Leadmill too once the current team have vacated the premises.

But supporters of the current management team say that – even though The Electric Group intends to keep a venue operating at its building – its decision to evict the current team is nevertheless unacceptable. Indeed, some have argued, The Electric Group is basically seeking to expand its company by exploiting the investments made in its property over the years by the current Leadmill team, while also utilising the goodwill built up by the existing venue over the last 40 years.

In a previous statement, the current Leadmill team stated: “The Leadmill is being exterminated by the landlord, they are destroying our business by evicting us. They intend to profit from the goodwill and reputation built up over … 40 plus years. It is a cheap, shabby, sly and underhand way of doing business, by forcing companies to cease trading”.

That team also previously confirmed they were organising a petition for their supporters to sign. However, that’s not simply a petition calling on The Electric Group to change its mind regarding the management of the Sheffield venue.

Instead the petition set up by the venue’s General Manager Ian Lawlor states: “Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act can be exploited by landlords, allowing them to expropriate the investment the tenant has made into the premises, including any goodwill developed over many years”.

“The government has said it will review the Landlord And Tenant Act”, it adds. “We are calling for a suspension of Section 25 (Grounds C to G), so that tenants cannot be evicted until a government review has been concluded, and any reforms implemented”.

In a social media post announcing the petition, the venue explains: “We are calling for a suspension to Section 25 of the Landlord And Tenant Act (Grounds C to G) in order to help save The Leadmill, as well as helping to protect the many other vulnerable businesses across the country, who lease the buildings in which they operate from”.

“93% of grassroots music venues do not own the buildings that they operate within and are also at risk”, it goes on. “This is an extremely important step in our bid to secure jobs for our workforce and for The Leadmill to remain at the heart of our community, so please do share this petition far and wide to secure our survival”.

The petition has already passed 10,000 signatures, which is the point at which the government is obliged to respond. If it reaches 100,000 – currently it is at 14,359 – the issues raised by the petition would be considered for a Parliamentary debate.

You can access the petition here.