Buying a business property is a long-term commitment so it is clearly important to make sure that it is going to be a valuable asset (financially and practically) in your business. So, before buying business property, it is important to consider both its current and long term suitability. Three things to consider when making this assessment are:
Freehold or Leasehold
Both have advantages and disadvantages and which one suits you best will depend on your circumstances and your future plans for your business. To help, here are some of the considerations for each:
Initial Outlay: Higher initial cost as the purchase price is all payable at the outset
Ongoing Outlay: Usually no regular payments other than insurance payments
Repair: You will be responsible for all repairs
Security: You own the property outright but it is harder to liquidate the assets
Control: Subject to planning permission you will be able to use and alter your property without anyone else’s consent
Initial Outlay: Lower initial cost as you will pay only the rent for the first quarter (i.e. 3 months). You may also have to pay a rent deposit (usually 3 or 6 months’ rent)
Ongoing Outlay: Quarterly payments of rent and service charge
Repair: The level of repairs that you are responsible for will depend on what you can negotiate with the Landlord
Security: You don’t own it but you can negotiate options to break the lease to give yourself flexibility
Control: You will need to use the property in accordance with the lease and obtain consent for anything different. This is all usually taken care of at lease negotiation stage to ensure that the lease works for you.
Once you have decided whether Freehold or Leasehold is right for you and you have found your ideal property then consider:
You have to use your property in line with the Use Classes Order 1987. Different types of business occupation come within different Use Classes so at the initial stage when you are thinking about taking a commercial property make sure that you know what planning use your business occupation falls into. That ensures that you only view appropriate properties.
It is possible to change planning use and if your perfect property has the wrong planning use then don’t give up on it. One option is to use a conditional contract so that you agree to take the property but only if you obtain a planning permission changing the Authorised Use to your use.
Also consider what planning uses the properties around your potential property have? Is the area going to continue to be one where your business can thrive?
Ability to Grow/Change
A property is a commitment so it is important that it fits in with your business plan for the future. Does it provide scope for you to grow and/or change working procedures?
If you decide to buy a freehold property can you take on a larger property than you need and sub-let floors which you can expand into later?
If you go with leasehold then can you take one floor of a building with an option to take more as you grow?
Alternatively is there a possibility that you may need less space in the future – not because you are down-sizing your business, but for example, because flexible working and hot-desking will become an option therefore requiring less office space?
In which case is the property suitable for underletting parts to other businesses?
These are 3 key things to think about when you have made the decision to acquire a property.
We pride ourselves in helping you through the process by carrying out the detailed due diligence investigations and explaining the complexities to you in simple plain English.
Jane Webber, LawBite Property Lawbrief.
If you have any questions for Jane about any of these 3 key things or any other legal aspect of your business you can have a FREE consultation by submitting a request here or call us today on 020 7148 1066.