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Restrictive covenants in commercial leases are clauses within the lease agreement that limit or control how the tenant can use the leased property. For example, limitations on alterations, renovations, subleasing, or restrictions on noise levels and hours of operation.

Restrictive covenants help maintain the property's marketability and appeal by ensuring that the tenant's use does not negatively impact the property.

Contact us today at 0203 959 7755 or fill in the contact form to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your specific needs and concerns regarding the restrictive covenants in your commercial lease.

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What is a restrictive covenant in a commercial lease?

A restrictive covenant is a clause in a commercial lease agreement that restricts tenants' activities or usage of the rented business premises.

These provisions intend to protect the interests of the landlord, tenants, and the overall property.

Why are restrictive covenants important in commercial leases?

Restrictive covenants help maintain the value and desirability of the property, manage the tenant mix, and reduce risks associated with certain types of businesses or activities.

Restrictive covenants also provide clarity and protection for both landlords and tenants.

Common types of restrictive covenants in commercial leases

Use Clauses, Exclusive Use Clauses, Prohibited Uses, and Operational Restrictions are four common types of restrictive covenants in commercial leases.

  1. Use Clauses
  2. Exclusive Use Clauses
  3. Prohibited Uses
  4. Operational Restrictions

Use Clauses

These clauses specify the permitted uses of the leased premises. For example, a lease for a retail space may restrict the tenant to operating only a bookstore, prohibiting them from selling food or running a cafe.

Exclusive Use Clauses

Exclusive Use clauses grant the tenant exclusive rights to conduct a particular type of business within the property. This means that the landlord cannot lease other spaces in the same property to competing businesses.

For instance, if a shopping centre has a grocery store tenant with an exclusive use clause, the landlord cannot lease another unit to a competing grocery store.

Prohibited Uses

These covenants explicitly list the types of businesses or activities that are not allowed on the premises. This could include prohibiting certain high-risk activities or businesses that could negatively impact the property or other tenants, such as nightclubs or heavy manufacturing.

Operational Restrictions

These include clauses that regulate operational aspects of the tenant’s business, such as hours of operation, noise levels, signage, and other operational factors that could affect other tenants or the property’s overall environment.

What are the consequences of breaching a restrictive covenant in a commercial lease?

The consequences of violating a restrictive covenant in the context of a commercial tenancy can be severe.

Here are some potential outcomes that may result from non-compliance:

Lease Termination

One of the most severe consequences is the termination of the lease.

If a tenant violates a restrictive covenant, the landlord may have the right to terminate the commercial lease agreement.

This would force the tenant to vacate the business premises, potentially disrupting their business operations significantly.

The landlord can take legal action against the tenant for breaching the restrictive covenant.

This could involve filing a lawsuit to enforce the covenant, seek damages, or obtain an injunction to stop the prohibited activity. Legal action can be time-consuming and costly for the tenant.

Financial Penalties

The commercial lease agreement may include specific penalties for breaching restrictive covenants. These penalties could involve fines or financial compensation for damages caused by the breach.

The tenant may be required to pay substantial amounts, which can affect their financial stability.


In some cases, breaching a restrictive covenant can lead to eviction proceedings. If the court sides with the landlord, the tenant could be forcibly removed from the premises, causing major disruptions to their business.

Loss of Security Deposit

The landlord may retain part or all of the tenant’s security deposit to cover any damages or losses resulting from the breach. This can further strain the tenant’s finances.

Impact on Lease Renewal

A history of breaching restrictive covenants can negatively impact the tenant’s ability to renew their lease.

The landlord may refuse to renew the lease or may impose stricter terms and higher rent in any new agreement.

Breaching a restrictive covenant in a commercial lease can have significant legal and financial repercussions. Both landlords and tenants should take these covenants seriously and ensure they are clear, fair, and enforceable to protect their interests.

Enforcing restrictive covenants in commercial leases

Restrictive covenants in commercial leases are generally enforceable, provided they are reasonable, clearly defined, and serve a legitimate business purpose.

Steps for enforcement of restrictive covenants:

  1. Review the Lease Agreement
  2. Notify the Tenant
  3. Mediation and Negotiation
  4. Legal Action

Step 1: Review the Lease Agreement

The foundational step in covenant enforcement is carefully reviewing the commercial lease agreement. This ensures a breach has occurred within the agreement's delineated terms.

A deep understanding of the tenant's obligations and the imposed restrictions is critical. Such clarity is vital in constructing a compelling case.

Step 2: Notify the Tenant

Identification of a covenant breach mandates immediate notification to the tenant. A formal written notice is essential, mentioning the specific violated covenant and specifying the necessary corrective actions within a defined period.

Step 3: Mediation and Negotiation

Before taking legal action, you should try to explore agreeable solutions through mediation or negotiation. It safeguards the landlord-tenant relationship while preventing expensive litigation.

Should mediation efforts prove unsuccessful, the initiation of legal action may become essential. This requires filing a claim, wherein evidence demonstrating the breach must be presented. Post-judgment, remedies such as injunctions or compensatory damages can be pursued.

Dealing with restrictive covenants in commercial leases demands professional legal advice and assistance.

At Moeen & Co. Solicitors, our highly experienced commercial lease solicitor can explain the legal implications of restrictive covenants, helping you understand your rights and obligations under the lease.

We can assist in negotiating terms to make them more favourable and less restrictive for your business.

Our commercial lease solicitors can guide how to handle disputes related to restrictive covenants, potentially avoiding costly litigation.

We ensure that the covenants comply with laws preventing future legal issues.

For bespoke guidance on restrictive covenants, do not hesitate to contact Moeen & Co. Solicitors at your earliest convenience.

How to contact Moeen & Co. Solicitors

Looking for a solicitor who specialises in commercial lease agreements? Look no further than Moeen & Co. Solicitors. Our highly experienced commercial lease solicitors will provide legal advice and assistance regarding the restrictive covenants in your commercial lease.

There are several ways to contact our solicitors based in Hayes, London:

We are located near Hayes and Harlington Station on Hayes High Street, in Hayes Town Centre. 

FAQs: Restrictive covenants in commercial leases

Yes, restrictive covenants must be reasonable and not overly broad. They should serve a legitimate business purpose and not unfairly restrict the tenant’s ability to operate their business.

If a tenant violates a restrictive covenant, the landlord may have the right to take legal action, which could include terminating the lease, seeking damages, or obtaining an injunction to stop the prohibited activity.

Yes, restrictive covenants are often subject to negotiation during the lease drafting process. Tenants should carefully review these clauses and negotiate terms that align with their business needs and future plans.

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