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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Forthcoming ban on R22 gas in air-conditioning systems

Air-conditioning (“AC”) units are now a common sight in modern commercial premises.  R22 is a gas widely used in AC units, heat pump and refrigeration systems.  Since 1 January 2010, only recycled or reclaimed R22 gas can be used in AC systems.  However, from 1 January 2015, the Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2011 (the “Regulations”) will prevent any R22 being used in AC systems, other than for limited research purposes.

Existing R22 gas does not have to be removed but it cannot be topped up or any leakages replaced.  Failure to comply with the Regulations may result in enforcement action by either the Environment Agency or the Local Authority.  

Whether a landlord can recover the cost from his tenant of complying with the Regulations or whether a tenant can challenge the cost depends primarily on the wording of the service charge clause - whether it allows for repairs to common service installations, plant or machinery.  There may be a cap on repair costs that can be claimed from the tenant, or a reasonableness requirement.  

Advice may be required on whether any proposed work amounts to either “repair” or “replacement” as this is a fundamental and complicated area - for example; an obligation to repair can include replacement if an item is beyond sensible patching up.  

Landlords should be looking at when their current leases expire and should seek advice about whether the terms of these leases permit some, if not all, of the costs of compliance with the Regulations to be passed on to tenants.  Landlords should also ensure that the service charge provisions in any new leases allow the cost to be recouped.

Tenants should particularly think about whether there are works necessary to comply with the Regulations when:

  • considering leasing a property - questions should first be asked about whether the AC system contains R22 and whether it will be replaced before the start of the lease;
  • considering lease renewal/exercising a break option - an opportunity to negotiate and apportion these costs, or to look to avoid liability for major future expenditure by terminating the lease; and
  • dealing with dilapidations at the end of a lease. 

The content of this article is for general information only. If you require further advice on this issue, please contact Greene & Greene’s commercial property team, on 01284 762211.


Local company avoids Crown Court

A local company who were already facing liabilities totaling over £70,000 avoided their case going to the Crown Court where they could have faced the possibility of a much more substantial fine.

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