Are you looking to terminate or renew your lease? If so, the first step will be to work out what sort of tenancy it is, as different laws will apply. Sometimes this is not obvious, as illustrated in a recent legal case.

Mr Smyth-Tyrrell was the tenant of a farm, under a 15-year lease. He spent over £200,000 renovating the cottage to let it out to holidaymakers.

However, when Mr Smyth-Tyrrell applied to renew the lease, this was denied. The Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, which would have allowed him to secure the tenancy, did not apply because he had not undertaken to put the property into a farmable condition, having restored it for the purposes of tourism instead.

As a business was being run from the land, could Mr Smyth-Tyrrell claim a business lease with the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954? The court decided this did not apply either as he had sublet to a company he controlled to carry on business on the premises, as opposed to carrying out the business himself.

The court decided it was a 'common law' tenancy, therefore Mr Smyth-Tyrrell had no statutory protection or rights to renew it.

Three things Watford tenants should keep in mind:

• Occupation may be under a licence but legally this may be a tenancy. Courts look behind the wording of a document and look at the reality of the occupation.

• A residential flat above a public house for the landlord of the pub is a business tenancy, not a residential tenancy.

• A 'company let' of residential premises cannot be an assured shorthold tenancy because a company cannot occupy a property as its residence.

The law of landlord and tenant is complicated. Good advice is needed or unintended consequences may arise.

- David Marsden is a partner in the commercial property team at award-winning Watford-based law firm VWV