If it's the landlord’s solicitor’s job to prepare the lease, do I need a solicitor?

The need for a tenant to use a solicitor is often questioned. The tenant often only wishes to occupy for few years. Tenants of houses do not generally use solicitors and surely a business lease is less complicated as buying a house with a mortgage?

The answer is that residential and business premises have different considerations. Whilst the ownership may be shorter, taking a business lease requires a similar “due diligence” process as e.g. buying a house. The tenant’s solicitor needs to ensure their client can use the premises as they intend; that the lease is not unduly restrictive and that there are no unforeseen issues or costs. This often involves more work than in taking a residential lease (tenancy): the documentation must be gone through with a fine-tooth comb and any questions resolved by negotiation with the landlord prior to making a commitment.

Other steps include making sure the landlord is entitled to grant the lease (by investigating the legal title and any mortgages over the premises) and obtaining relevant information from the landlord (eg planning conditions or services). Much of this information is given in response to standard enquiries (known as CPSE enquiries) which your solicitor can interpret with the necessary expertise.

Then there are the logistics of “completion” when the lease becomes legally binding and the tenant can go into occupation of the premises. Your solicitor will deal with the calculations and payment of advance rents, service charges and buildings’ insurance, as well as any HM Land Registry and SDLT (stamp duty land tax) aspects.

Parties to a business lease are usually treated as having equal bargaining power.  A business tenant is often pushing to move in at the earliest date but should ensure that they do not come to regret acting in haste or cutting corners. It is worth getting specialist advice to ensure the deal is a good one which protects the longer term interests of the tenant’s business.

For more information, please contact our Commercial team on 0113 201 4900 or commercial.property@emsleys.co.uk.

Kelly Sanderson

Written by

Kelly Sanderson

Head of Commercial

Kelly has many years of experience in dealing with all aspects of commercial property law; acting for individuals, companies, pension funds, partnerships and their lenders in the purchasing, selling and leasing of commercial property.  Kelly also specialises in business sales and purchases (whether by way...

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