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Shop Leases – Tenant Tips

Over the years, I’ve advised many a tenant looking to take on shop leases. So, I’ve decided to put together some pointers that I’ve found are of special importance. Make sure you consider them carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

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  • Planning Consent – Change of Use
  • Trading Hours
  • Service Charges
  • Security at the End of the Lease
  • Newsagent Leases
The Council strictly police the use to which all buildings are put. You must therefore make sure that you are allowed to use the property you’re looking to rent as a shop. This means that you’ll probably need A1 planning consent, which is use as a retail shop. You should be able to find out some useful information on the current permitted use by getting in touch with the Local Authority’s planning department and/or asking the Landlord.
Shop tenants often find themselves renting a unit in a development or mall. If so, pay close attention to the hours and days during which you are allowed to trade, both in the lease and under any ‘regulations’ that the Landlord might produce from time to time. If you’re planning to stay open for late night or weekend shopping, you don’t want to find that the shopping centre is locked up at those times and on those days. Check carefully the terms of any planning permission issued by the Council, too. You may find that additional restrictions on trading hours are imposed therein.
If you are planning on taking a lease of part of a building or a unit in a development, always go over the service charge provisions with a toothcomb. In particular, make sure that the Landlord can’t charge you for things you should not be paying for, such as funding a new development or paying for staff and services that you don’t benefit from. Above all, it’s crucial to get the Landlord to agree to cap your service charges, so that you know that, at worst you can’t be asked to pay more than a fixed amount in any one year of the lease term.
What if you want to stay on at the property after the lease of your shop comes to an end? You might well not want the Landlord to be able to evict you on a whim. It can take years to build up a following at a particular location, so the last thing you might want is for the Landlord to get rid of you. You can reduce the chances of this happening by making sure that you are granted a lease that is protected under the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.
Whether you plan to buy the freehold or take a lease of a newsagent, do take the time to get some advice from a solicitor. You’re risking too much by simply signing on the dotted line. The good news is we’ll make the process quick and painless. Because we’re experts at buying and leasing newsagents we only stick to the essentials:

Planning Permission and Licences: Pay close attention to exactly what you can and cannot do with the newsagent. You’ll need to make sure that you have planning consent that covers all the uses you envisage. Additionally, if you’re hoping to sell alcohol or lottery tickets, you will probably need a licence for this. You’ll need to carefully check the lease terms to make sure that there are no restrictions on what you want to do.

Residential Accommodation: It is common for a newsagent to be sold or leased including residential accommodation on the first floor up. The owners of the business might well choose to live there themselves in order to save on the cost of living elsewhere, or simply to be close to work (which is really handy for a job that demands long hours). Otherwise the owners might rent it out to staff or the general public. If there is residential accommodation, don’t assume you’ll be able to put whoever you want in there. Very often there are restrictions that need to be considered and possibly negotiated with the landlord.

Trading Hours: Some landlords are keen to restrict trading hours to avoid upsetting neighbours or residential tenants in a development, or simply because it makes management of the building/estate/shopping centre easier. Planning permissions may also restrict trading hours and need to be checked carefully. Running a newsagent is very different from having a clothes shop or an office. Flexible hours can be crucial.

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Commercial Property Team:

Commercial Property Solicitor
James Edwards is a commercial property solicitor advising landlords and tenants on commercial leases. He also has experience in buying and selling businesses. Contact James for a free no obligation quotation today by phone or via our contact form.
Commercial Property Solicitor
Sophie McGregor is a commercial property solicitor working with James. She assists clients with all aspects of leases. Sophie has detailed knowledge of most types of commercial property transactions.

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