Credit crunch tips for commercial tenants

Landlords may be willing to negotiate valuable tenant-friendly terms to get vacant property let in these difficult times.

Here are some tips to consider:

1. Keep it short

Try to make the lease term as short as possible but within the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This is particularly relevant for new ventures where you want to limit the term of the lease to say three or five years. But also want to know that at the end of the contract, you're entitled to a new lease.

2. Get a break

Negotiate a break clause in the lease. This means you can get out early if things are not working out and limits the liability you have to pay the rent. If the landlord accepts the principle of a break clause, make sure you get the landlord to agree that there are no conditions you have to meet. Conditions on a break can look innocuous, but the reality is that landlords use them with devastating effect to defeat your right to walk away.

3. Take photos

Instruct a surveyor, or take photos and make notes about the condition of the property before you sign the lease. Make sure the landlord agrees to attach this to the lease and agrees that you don’t have to keep the property in a better state of repair.

4. Cap it

If there’s a service charge, get the landlord to agree to an annual cap. This will prevent you racking up unexpected costs.

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