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Flexible lease aims to lure indies onto high street

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is spearheading a drive to entice indies back to the high street by creating a property lease offering flexible terms for small businesses.

RICS has devised the lease to simplify the often complex and time-consuming process of commercial property leases. The contract, which is freely available from the RICS website, provides the tenant with a simplified “all-inclusive” lease with fixed property costs.

The lease is intended to last for up for five years, unlike standard leases that can last up to 10 years. It does not have a rent review clause and offers other flexible terms for occupiers such as an automatic right to renew, which is not usually available on short-term leases.

RICS developed the lease in collaboration with the British Retail Consortium and it has been written by Nick Darby, managing associate at law firm SNR Denton.

Darby said he hoped the contract would encourage businesses to take the risk because they do not have to sign up for a long time. “People inevitably are nervous about making long-term commitments,” he said. “With this there is an income for the landlord and a business opportunity for someone who wants to try their own business but is not tied in.”

Paul Bagust, associate director of professional groups and forums at RICS, said he hoped the availability of the lease would lead to less vacant units on the high street. “This is just one part of the whole process,” he said.

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