Commercial Property Blog

Legal Tips and Traps

Just what the Doctor ordered – A health check for your lease

Posted by Dean Claughton on 28 Jan 2016

Assisted by Holly Pitt

You probably go to your local doctor once a year to make sure everything is in working order, right? Well, it also makes good sense to do the same with your business – taking stock and doing a ‘check up’ in the New Year. 

It can be easy to get bogged down in the ‘now’ of running your business and lose sight of items you need to monitor for long-term sustainability. For example, simply forgetting to review your commercial property lease annually can mean passing up an opportunity to stay up-to-date on your rights and responsibilities under your lease. 

Make sure you’re getting the most out of your end of the deal, and cast an eye over these important things in 2016:

Expiry Date

It might sound crazy, but have you checked that your lease hasn’t already expired? In the hustle and bustle of business it can be easy for this date to come and go, and if it has passed, you must make sure you have security over your business premises. For example, if you received a one month’s notice to vacate, would you be able to pack up and leave the premises without any planning?

If your lease is expiring soon, you should be looking around to relocate or checking if your lease has an option to renew. If it doesn’t and you haven’t kept yourself up-to-date you could find yourself in hot water later on.

Outgoings

Are you paying the outgoings required by the lease? Is the landlord paying what he/she should? It is worth keeping a record of your outgoings - whether you audit them yourself or get someone to do it for you - having this record can help you save money when you review what’s been going on.

Rent 

If you know what the current market rental rates are for your premises, you will have an advantage when it comes time to renegotiate your lease. Don’t be afraid to try and renew your lease early if the market rates are lower so that you can try to push for a reduced rent.

Suitability

If you have new staff coming out your ears and Sandra is squeezed between the kitchen and the bathroom on a fold out chair, it might be time to consider whether your premises still suits your needs. Take a look at your lease and see if there’s an option to exit early, sublease or assign your lease to someone else. There is no point staying in the same place and struggling, if there is a better way to operate.
   
Doing an annual check of your lease will keep you prepared and in control. If you have any questions about checking your commercial lease to avoid a sticky situation in the New Year, please contact: