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Statement of Conditions - protect your business

It is hugely important make sure you don’t get caught in a legal mine-field.

Many businesses see the value of taking on a leasehold property. It gives businesses a secure venue to operate in, with only a fraction of the cost.

Our Commercial property Solicitor and business growth specialist John Knight is on hand to help businesses protect themselves from unnecessary costs in the future. 

The most common issues crop up when the lease comes to an end. When it comes to moving out of the property, your landlord has to ensure they can get a new tenant in quickly to cover their costs and keep the building occupied.

Often there can be disputes if the landlord thinks that you, as the lease-holder, have damaged the property, or allowed it to dilapidate.

If you do find yourself in a dispute where your landlord feels that you should be funding repair for the building, you will have to prove that the damages being claimed for, were either already part of the property before you took the lease on, or that the damages should be covered by the landlord themselves.

This can be difficult and costly. The best way to protect yourself is to commission a ‘Schedule of Conditions’ when you take on a lease.

This is a document which essentially indicates the overall condition of the building. For this, you will need an independent surveyor to produce a report on the buildings condition. This usually relates to the structure of the building, and any issues such as damp or collapsing roof’s or walls, and not generally to aesthetic conditions.

Often photographic evidence will need to be taken to document the general condition of the building, which will then provide your evidence if any disputes arise in the future.

Schedules of conditions can then be reviewed when you come to the end of the term of your lease, and are your legal proof that you have left the building in the condition you found it in.

In some circumstances, if a building is very old or the lease you have taken out is very long, there is an expected amount of dilapidation, which is commonly referred to as “wear and tear”. You should discuss what agreements can be made in your lease as to whether you or your landlord is responsible for repair from “wear and tear”.

More often than not, it is stipulated that you, as the lease-holder are responsible for this, and therefore should calculate an expected budget for repair to the property if you intend to move your business else-where.

Once you have entered into a lease, you are contractually bound to pay for the full term of that lease, and only in extreme circumstances is it possible to negotiate out of that contract. John's advice is to picture how your business will be operating in five, ten or twenty year’s time, and make sure you plan your lease appropriately us, and make sure you get a full Schedule of Conditions for the property!

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