Fantastic article in the Estates Gazette this week all about the perils of trying to undertake your own legal work…Read More »
Chandler Garvey is one of the most active firms in the region and as such our general level of market intelligence is very high; allowing us to not only find opportunities on the “grey market”, but also comment intelligently about different macro and micro locations.
A skilled Chartered Surveyor can influence every aspect of the acquisition process and we see ourselves as “problem solvers” throughout the process, liaising with different parties at different times. Our role is not just to find suitable premises and negotiate a deal, but to make sure that the process is managed effectively and efficiently from start to finish to cause the least disruption and provide a new home for the business that allows it to grow and flourish. Having relocated our own business twice we can fully appreciate how disruptive the process can be and the importance of getting it right.
There are many pitfalls and traps along the way and involving an experienced professional in the process is always sensible. Time is a valuable commodity and the process of finding commercial property is very time consuming. For many senior business people this time is better spent on running their business. When considering a significant IT project, for example, most businesses wouldn’t consider doing this without expert assistance.
It is all too easy to focus too much on the financial points of the deal and forget essential practical elements of the lease such as repairing clauses, alienation provisions and other contractual matters that could have a far more significant impact upon the business in the future.
Unrepresented occupiers are not always aren’t aware of the issues that can seriously affect the business in the future, relating to the property. Many large occupiers, appreciate the importance of their offices in terms of staff attraction and retention and the extent to which good quality office space can increase productivity. The same principles apply to smaller occupiers, but few businesses ever think about this.
We are so passionate about assisting occupiers that we have just launched our new Occupier Services division. This division, headed by Joanna Kearvell, will focus exclusively on occupiers and offer a range of services to allow them to occupy businesses premises more efficiently and effectively.
How much office space do I need?
Most office occupiers will allocate between 60-150 sq ft per person. For example if you have 12 staff you may be looking for an office between 720 – 1,800 sq ft.
You will need to think about how much additional space you will require in terms of meeting rooms, training rooms and private offices.
If you are unsure of your current office size then you can check your property listing on the voa.gov.uk which lists your business rates. On the listing it should say the floor area which will give you something to work from. This can also help for industrial buildings where the above ratio is not relevant. Chandler Garvey Occupier Services can help you assess how much space you will need taking into consideration future growth.
What costs should I expect to pay when renting a building?
There are three basic types of costs you would expect to pay when renting an office, industrial unit or shop. Firstly, the rent which is typically paid quarterly in advance. Secondly are the business rates.
Business Rates explained
The Rateable Value of your premises can be found at www.voa.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates by typing in your postcode. If your rateable value is less than £12,000 and you only occupy one property then you can apply to the Local Authority to get 100% rates relief and therefore pay no business rates.
To work out your business rates you need to use the uniform business rates (UBR) multiplier. For 2018 the UBR for Rateable Values under £51,000 is 46.6p and for those over £51,000 it is 47.9p.
Example: Rateable Value is £20,000 x 0.466 = £9,320 rates payable.
Business rates are paid to your local authority.
How do I know if a rental proposal from a landlord on new premises is any good?
There are a number of things to consider when renting new premises, not only the costs of taking on the lease but issues during the lease and of course exiting the premises at the end of term. The rent per square foot (usually how rents are given) is often what tenants focus on however there are many other parts of the lease that need attention to save the business from expensive costs during and at lease end.
Chandler Garvey Occupier Services can help not only find your new premises but guide you through the negotiation and legal process to ensure that every outcome has been thought about.
Do I need a solicitor to act for me when taking on a new property?
The short answer is yes. A lease can be a complicated document with additional documents regarding works you are doing to the property (Licence to Alter) and its current condition (Schedule of Condition). If the new lease is outside the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 then you will need a solicitor to witness you signing the documents.
Our lease is coming to an end, what are our options?
Firstly your business needs to decide if you want to remain in your existing premises and sign a new lease, or if you would like to relocate.
If you would like to remain in your premises then you enter a lease renewal negotiation with your landlord. You will need to serve the specific notice / a Section 26 notice to renew your lease if it is inside the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. We would recommend that you are represented by a surveyor to negotiate a lease renewal as many of the issues are similar to letting new space.
If your lease is outside the Landlord & Tenant Act then there are no notices to serve, although you will still have to negotiate terms for your new lease. This process can take a lot of senior management time and so using Chandler Garvey Occupier Services we can save you time and money by ensuring you are getting the best possible terms for your new lease.
Our business is currently spread across 3 sites, what should we be thinking about in terms of facilities management?
Facilities management covers the internal and external maintenance of business premises. As well as ensuring the property is working efficiently for your business, there is legislation that must be adhered to. For example fire alarm testing and legionella testing.
Lease breaks explained.
If you have a tenant only break in your lease then as a business you must decide if you want to break your lease and find new premises, or stay in your current building. Chandler Garvey Occupier Services can help you evaluate your current premises to ensure that they still work for you now and in the future life of the lease.
If you decide to find new premises you must ensure you serve the correct notices within good time. You will also need to check that you have adhered to all of the conditions in order to serve your break.
How long does it take to find new premises?
We would advise a period of 6-9 months as a starting point, or longer if you have to serve a longer notice on your break / lease expiry. It can take some time to not only understand your exact requirements, but then find the property within your preferred location. There are many phases to an acquisition which can be found here (link to timescale). After the building has been found and the terms of a new lease negotiated, you will need to consider space planning and fitting out your new premises, the legal process, setting up the new office in terms of phone and broadband connection and physically moving.
Chandler Garvey Occupier Services can assist with all of these phases, enabling you to get the best deal and save money but almost more importantly, save senior management time throughout the process.
Our landlord has served us with a Rent Review notice, what should we do?
A landlord would typically start the rent review process off by serving you notice as per the terms in your lease. Your landlord would contact you with the uplifted rent which would be for you to agree to or negotiate. We would always recommend employing a chartered surveyor to act on your behalf to ensure you are paying a fair rent.
Our lease is about to expire and we are moving to new premises, what do we need to consider?
There are many things to consider when moving to new premises and often the last thing tenants think about is exiting their old premises. You do not need to give your landlord any notice to lease your premises, although a Section 27 notice can be served with at least 3 months notice to lease expiry.
Dilapidations usually form part of negotiations at lease expiry. The landlord would serve a Terminal Schedule of Dilapidations on the tenant which is a document detailing all of the disrepair in the building and the cost to put it into full repair (subject to any Schedules of Condition agreed at the start of the lease). Conventionally these works can either be done by the tenant before the lease expires if they move out early, alternatively a monetary settlement is paid to the landlord. Having said that there is a fair proportion of circumstances where that is not the case so it is important to take advise from a dilapidations specialist. Link to service page.
We have decided to break our lease, what do we need to do?
If your lease in inside the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 you will need to serve a contractual notice with the notice period pertained in your lease. Conventionally your break notice is subject to paying your rent and giving vacant possession. As part of the acquisition process we can advise on these details. If you don’t give enough notice then you will not be able to break the lease.
Solicitors will often not agree to anything more onerous than paying of rent and providing vacant possession but this is not always the case. Chandler Garvey Occupier Services can help liaise with your solicitor to ensure that you are able to break your lease without any delay.
Click on each highlighted stage of the timeline to find out more information.
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Michael Garvey joined the firm in 2004 as a Director and has over 30 years experience in commercial property. He is also the Vice-Chair of Buckinghamshire Business First and a Board Member of the Bucks Learning Enterprise Partnership.
Joanna Kearvell has over 11 years experience in the commercial property sector including working as a property agent and marketing. Having worked in Bucks for over a decade, Jo is able to bring her knowledge of the property sector and experience in completing transactions plus all the stages in between to the new department.
After completing a Masters in Real Estate from The University of Reading and working for a niche healthcare developer, Jack joined Chandler Garvey in Spring 2017.