Committing to a lease of commercial property can be one of the biggest decisions made by any
business. Asking the landlord the right questions can help to make sure that the property and the
lease are suitable for your business needs. Five good questions to ask are:
1. How much is the rent and when will I have to pay it? Rent can be one of the most
expensive overheads that a business faces. Agree with the landlord how much the annual
rent will be and when you will have to pay it. Most commonly it will be paid in four equal
quarterly payments in each year. Also ask whether your landlord will charge you VAT on the
rent. At an additional 20%, this will increase your costs significantly if you are not VAT
2. Can I legally use the property for my business? Your lease will limit the use of the property
to a specified purpose so ask the landlord what you can and can’t use the property for. It is
also your responsibility to check that the property has the right planning permission for your
business needs so always ask the landlord to confirm to you that the permitted use complies
with the planning permission. If it doesn’t, then a planning application will need to be made.
3. Can I cancel the lease is my circumstances change unexpectedly? It is important to consider
that the length of the lease is appropriate to your business needs. As this may not always be
possible, ask the landlord if they will agree to include a ‘break clause’ in the lease. This
would allow you to give the landlord written notice that you want to end the lease early on a
fixed date. This can be very useful for new businesses that wish to keep flexibility.
4. Who is responsible for repairs? Carrying out repairs to any property can be expensive.
Agree with the landlord who will be responsible for this. Most landlords will want the tenant
to take on at least some repairing obligations and you should always satisfy yourself that no
major repairs that will be required. Also check that the lease does not require you to put the
property into a better state of repair and condition than it was in when you took it. It is
always worthwhile getting a surveyor to prepare a schedule of condition to record the state
of the property at the time the lease is signed as evidence.
5. Who is responsible for buildings insurance? Usually, the landlord will arrange and pay for
the buildings insurance and the tenant will pay them back the cost of the premium or part of
it if the building has more than one tenant. Always ask for a copy of the landlord’s buildings
insurance policy to check the terms of it and how much the premium is so that you know
how much you are likely to be asked to pay.