How can we help?


Vacant Possession: Do I have to remove partitions?

The exercise of break clauses can cause tenants great difficulty, especially where the break clause is subject to conditions.  It is common for break clauses to require “vacant possession” and it can be difficult for a tenant to know what exactly this requires them to do.  One question which comes up frequently is whether it is necessary to remove partitions in order to give vacant possession.

It will always be necessary to look at the terms of the lease and licence for alterations in every case.  However the general view until now has been that partitions are virtually always fixed to a building and that, if there is any substantial connection between the partition and the building it will be treated as a “fixture”.  This means that it becomes part of the leased premises and, unless there is a separate obligation to remove the partition in (for example) a licence for alterations, leaving such partitions behind will not prevent there being vacant possession.

In a case handed down at the end of July in the Leeds District Registry, Riverside Park Limited -v- NHS Property Services Limited, the court considered the impact of partitions on the delivery of vacant possession.  In that case the partitions were in the form of metal stud partitions with painted plasterboard connected to the building by screw fixings.  The partitions were not solidly fixed to the floor or the ceiling and the court was satisfied that they could be demounted intact and potentially used elsewhere.  This was despite the fact that within the partitioning there were air-conditioning units and electrical wiring and sockets.

The consequence of the court finding (which some will find surprising) that these partitions had not become fixtures was that they remained chattels.  The tenant was therefore obliged to remove them and had not done so.  The court was satisfied that they did substantially prevent or interfere with the possession of the property and that, as a result, the tenant had failed to deliver up vacant possession.


It is common for break clauses to require “vacant possession

This case highlights once again the uncertainty that can surround the exercise of break clauses and the considerable importance of taking advice before it is too late on what needs to be done to ensure full and proper compliance and avoid the expensive consequences of an ineffective attempts to break a lease.

For further information on break clauses that require vacant possession please contact our Real Estate team 

About this article


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

  • 28 February 2024
  • Commercial Real Estate

Hidden risks in serviced office agreements

This is usually a fully furnished and equipped office space that is managed by a facility management company and made available for short-term or long-term rentals to businesses, varying from one week to a year, or even longer.

  • 27 February 2024
  • Employment

Changing Attitudes to Menopause

We have set out some answers to the frequently asked questions that employers ask when considering how to support a menopausal employee.

  • 22 February 2024
  • Employment

Time to take the heat off menopausal women

On 22 February 2024, the EHRC released guidance and resources for employers designed to help employers understand their legal obligations in relation to supporting workers experiencing menopausal symptoms.

  • 22 February 2024
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: What to do if you’re at risk of redundancy

In this podcast, Harry Berryman and Rebecca Dowle, members of the employment team, will talk through the steps that need to be taken for a redundancy to be fair and the range of criteria that can be used when determining which employees will be made redundant.

  • 21 February 2024
  • Immigration

FAQs Partner Visa UK

Discover the UK Spouse Visa: eligibility, finances, relationship criteria, and the latest updates in 2024 for a successful application.

  • 19 February 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

The role of Data Protection Officers in ensuring compliance

How many of us receive marketing calls for products and services we did not sign up for?