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Ticklist for renting a business premise

Many businesses rent premises, covered by a lease or tenancy agreement. Follow these simple steps to ensure you have everything covered before signing.

Rent – Make sure that the rent and its payment dates are stated clearly. Research similar properties in the area and negotiate if you can.

Repairs – Before you occupy the property, it should be in a suitable state. If it is in a poor condition you can ensure your landlord amends this, but make sure you take pictures so you have proof. During your lease, you just need to ensure you are clear what you need to repair and what your landlord does, which should be written in your contract. Lastly, when you leave the property it must be in reasonable state, only allowances for wear and tear are generally accepted.

Use – Leases very often contain restrictions on how you use the property, for instance noxious fumes or noise.  You need to ensure that your lease contains a clause which permits a change of use, subject to the landlord’s approval.

Alterations – Most leases prevent tenants from making alterations to the property, unless the landlord agrees. Before signing, consider any alterations you think you might need to make and remember that tenants are normally required to restore the property when they leave.

Rent reviews – Leases usually contain a section stating that regular rent reviews will take place at specified intervals.  This will also indicate how rents are agreed and disputes resolved. Very often, landlords try to increase rent, but it is a good idea to see if you can at the very least freeze or get a decrease.

Option to terminate the lease – Leases may have a break clause in them – an option to terminate the lease at a certain point. It is worth doing this so you have a plan b in case things don’t work out.

Do your homework – Past or nearby tenants could be contacted to find out about the landlord and how they perform their duties. You will also need to check that planning permission has been accepted on that premise for your type of business.

For more information about the Federation of Small Businesses go to www.fsb.org.uk/

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