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Whilst most buyers would take the step of having a detailed survey when purchasing a property, be it for residential or commercial purposes, the same doesn’t always apply in practice when tenants are leasing a property for commercial use.
Unfortunately for tenants, most commercial lease scenarios favour the landlord and the building is assumed to be in good repair unless documented otherwise. However, this is rarely the case, and sometimes tenants can end up inheriting sizeable bills for repair work, and other significant costs.
Here are five reasons to the services of a Chartered Surveyor when taking up a commercial property lease:
Under the majority of commercial leases, you as the tenant will be solely responsible for the repair and upkeep of the property. Having a Chartered Surveyor undertake a Pre-lease Assessment at the outset will identify any existing and/or potential defects with a property to give you an idea of what you are committing to should you go ahead. Additionally, armed with this knowledge, it may be possible to get the landlord to agree to carry out a scheme of repair works before you take occupancy, or perhaps a reduction in rent or other incentive, such as a rent free period.
It is worth noting that even if you are only taking space in a larger building, with the landlord being responsible for the repair of the building fabric/structure and common parts, a tenant will normally bear some or all of the cost via a service charge.
The majority of commercial leases are for a number of years and are usually fairly watertight once signed. Before committing to such a lengthy period, wouldn’t you rather know that you’re paying a fair rate? A Chartered Surveyor that regularly deals with commercial properties will be able to advise on this. As part of the Pre-lease Assessment process, a surveyor will check on the condition of the property and that the letting particulars are accurate – for example, he can check that the size of the property is as stated. You don’t want to pay rent/rates on square footage that doesn’t exist!
Whilst you may think that sufficient water, gas and electricity supplies are a given, this isn’t always the case. A surveyor can check whether the utilities and services available are suitable for your business’ needs before you take up occupancy, as well as other suitability issues.
The presence of asbestos at a property doesn’t necessarily mean you wouldn’t want to proceed with taking up the lease. It is something you would want to be aware of, however, in case you were planning to make any alterations to the property as this could potentially disturb the asbestos, making it harmful to yourself and / or any of your staff that may accidentally inhale its dust. It is also worth noting that any alteration work you may wish to undertake would likely incur additional costs as the services of a specialist asbestos contractor would need to be brought in.
At the time of commencement of the lease, you may also wish to have a full Schedule of Condition prepared. This is a detailed report that will provide a record of any pre-existing defects and disrepair to the property. Having such a document in place protects you when it comes to dilapidations at the end of the lease as most leases require a property is ‘made good’ to the same standard as when the lease was started. Without a reference point such as a Schedule of Condition, you may find it impossible to prove the existence of pre-existing defects and could therefore find yourself liable for dilapidations/repair work to disrepair that was not of your making.
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