Know Your Rights as a Commercial Tenant

Real estate experts Homelet recently reported how the UK government is revamping its laws regarding tenancies in response to a recent swathe of so-called “revenge evictions.”

Given how common it is for companies to rent office space, it’s crucial that you, as the tenant, are aware of both your rights and the rights of your landlord.

Signing the Lease

When you sign the lease to your office, or other business premises, you are generally committing to a fixed period of years. This lease term can only be ended early if you had an agreement with your landlord to do this. If this isn’t the case, then you are contractually obliged to fulfill your part of the agreement, though if you have a good relationship with your landlord you may be able to renegotiate the contract. If this isn’t possible, you can try to find another tenant to take up your contract or payout your existing contract so your business can move on early.

If the rent is unpaid for a prolonged period of time, usually somewhere between the region of 14-28 days, the landlord is within their rights to change the locks of the premises. Unlike owners of residential properties, commercial landlords do not need a court order to retake possession of the leased property. Because of this, it’s vital that you be very careful about any contract you sign. Make sure that it’s right for your company not only in its current situation but in the long-term as well.

Health and Safety

While most responsibilities of the tenant will be based on the specifics of your contact, you are also required by law to perform a health and safety risk assessment. You are responsible for fire safety, keeping any electrical or gas equipment up to code, managing asbestos levels, providing safe drinking water, and maintaining a reasonable temperature with adequate space, ventilation, and lighting for your employees.

Because many commercial landlords seek to avoid any responsibility for repairs on commercial premises, much of this responsibility is attempted to be placed on the tenant. If this is the case, the tenant can find themselves with many costly bills at the end of their lease. To avoid this, read your contract carefully and look for the phrase “full repairing and insuring” (FRI) obligation. It’s well-advised that the tenant should try to limit his or her responsibility in maintaining the premises. To make sure that the landlord cannot spring any surprises at you at the end of your contract, you should thoroughly log the condition of the facilities in your first days on the premises.

Being knowledgeable about the subject is the best way to prevent any unforeseen expenses. Speak with your landlord about any terms you don’t understand or bring in a third-party to ensure there are no surprises.