Building Legal Solutions
We have advised and acted on behalf of tenant clients who lease business premises across the spectrum whether that be a large occupier with multiple sites or a start up business signing its first commercial tenancy.
Irrespective of size two of the crucial points for our clients are:
Ensuring the lease is fair and does not contain onerous conditions
Providing commercial plain English advice on the lease terms
It goes without saying that the landlord and their professional advisors will seek the best possible deal for their client. In most cases the landlord’s agent will prepare the heads of terms and the landlord’s solicitor will draft the lease. Inevitably, the documents are very landlord friendly or, on occasions, defective and our role as solicitor for the tenant is to make changes that ensure the commercial lease is fair and balanced. A lease is just like any other contract and is legally binding. For that reason alone, it would be very unwise for a tenant to sign such a document without taking legal advice to understand the implications and pitfalls.
The role of the tenant’s surveyor can also be very important when negotiating a commercial lease. This is particularly the case when dealing with rent and repairs, for example. We might advise our client that a photographic schedule of condition is appropriate to limit the tenant’s repair obligation to the current condition of the premises and a building surveyor would then need to prepare a comprehensive record to this can be annexed to the lease on completion. We like to work closely with our client’s professional team to ensure the timely completion of the lease and smooth move into new business premises.
We recommend that our involvement in negotiating the commercial lease starts before heads of terms are finalised as, in our experience, it’s easier to agree changes to the major terms with the landlord and their agent at this early stage where expectations can be managed.
Our approach to negotiating a business lease is to focus on the sections that cause the most problems for a tenant in practice and are likely to cost money in the future if not addressed by a full negotiation of the lease. We don’t waste time getting into a battle with the landlord’s lawyer over trivial matters or obscure technical legal points and remain focused on the clients’ objectives throughout.
The philosophy of all the team who deal with commercial leases at Feldon Dunsmore is to deliver the advice in a way that is clear and understandable, which does not prepare a report that repeats what is already contained in the 40 odd page lease. We are adaptable as to how the advice is delivered based on our individual clients’ preference and experience of commercial leases. In all cases our clients come to expect that we will have negotiated the lease to ensure this is a balanced and fair document that seeks to water down some of the most onerous obligations on the tenant and avoids unexpected surprises. We do seek to maintain a collaborative approach in the negotiation of the lease as the landlord and tenant relationship will normally last for a few years at least.
Our charging structure for commercial leases is based on fixed fees calculated by reference to the level of rent and the number of documents involved. The landlord may require a rent deposit deed and any tenant alterations to the premises will need consent and these are charged for separately. Our aim is to ultimately save our clients’ money over the term of the commercial lease by incorporating amendments to the documents such as a yearly service charge cap, where possible.
In order to meet differing budgets for legal costs and the level of complexity involved in each transaction we have developed a number of service levels ranging from a simple commercial lease review and report up to a full commercial lease negotiation including full due diligence and searches.
Most of our commercial lease work is introduced by existing clients or other professionals including agents and surveyors because they understand the way we work is to achieve a completion in line with all parties expectations and commercial objectives. If you are considering using Feldon Dunsmore then we would be happy to provide you with recommendations from both clients and other professionals before you make a final decision to use this firm for your commercial lease advice.