Taking your first steps into renting commercial premises, especially if you have no property background or experience can be daunting but get it right and it could be the best ‘move’ you make!
Renting a commercial property and growing your business is exciting but it is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Laura Melville, STEP’s Property Manager, offers some great advice for you if you’re about to look for a new home for your business.
Your lease is a legally binding document. Before signing anything you must be sure that you understand it. You may wish to instruct an experienced solicitor to carefully check the terms, conditions and covenants included in the lease.
Some general pointers to take into account when choosing business property, and before signing a lease:
· Find out who is responsible for the internal and external maintenance and repair of the property
· Find out who is responsible for ensuring the property meets fire, health and safety regulations
· Find out who is responsible for insuring the building
· Find out what control or restrictions the Landlord has in relation to any alterations you wish to carry out to the premises and what you can use the premises for.
Costs and Charges
Make sure you know exactly what your costs are and what they include – for budgeting purposes and so that there are no hidden surprises:
· How much is the rent?
· When will the rent need to be paid? (Weekly, monthly or quarterly? In advance or in arrears?)
· Is there a deposit to pay? How much is it? When does this need to be paid?
· Does the rent include Business Rates? If not, are you liable for any Business Rates charges?
· What is the Rateable Value of the property so you can check your Rates liability?
· Does the rental payment include any services, or is there a service charge payable for the property?
· Are you liable for any building insurance or other insurances?
· Are there any service / maintenance / cleaning charges? If so, what is included, and what is not included?
· How often is the rent reviewed? Make sure you are aware of any planned rent reviews and when they will take place.
It is important to find out:
· If all required utilities (gas, electric, water, phone lines, comms, air con etc) are available at the property
· Are they sufficient for your needs?
· Are they covered in the monthly rent / service charge or are these additional charges that you need to budget for?
· What is the length of the lease being offered?
· Are you comfortable with the length of the lease?
· You can always ask for a break clause(s) to be included in your lease so that you are not held to the full lease term should you wish to terminate earlier than planned.
· How long is your notice period if and when you do wish to terminate?
Consents and Permissions
You may need to apply for various consents before you can operate your business from your chosen property:
· You may need Planning Permission and / or a Building Warrant if you want to make any alterations or changes to the property.
· Find out what ‘Use Classification’ the property has been assigned. You may need to apply to the Planning Department to change the use of the property, depending on what type of business you intend to operate from the property. The Planning Department at your local Council can advise you further on the Use Class of a property.
· Do you need a license to trade? Many businesses do, and for many different sectors. If you are unsure, you local Licensing Department will be able to advise you further.
· If you are a food related business, you need to register with your local Environmental Health Department at least 28 days before you start trading.
· You may also need to apply for Advertising Consent for any signage you wish to display.
Remember, any of the permissions:
· Will have a financial impact on your business so it’s always best to check to see if you will need any, some or all of these permissions before you commit to a lease.
· Will take time to process and approve so if you’ve signed a lease, you could be paying rent and other costs and be unable to generate an income until permissions are granted.
The best advice I can give is to always look into all associated costs, trading permissions, lease terms etc before you sign up and don’t be hurried by pushy Agents or Landlords. Take your time, it’s a big decision that should not be rushed.
Searching for Premises?
At STEP, we offer flexible terms on industrial workspace and office space. Whatever your requirements are, please get in touch. If we can’t provide you with your ideal property, we will refer your enquiry to a range of property partners that we work with.
You can contact the Property team at email@example.com.
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