Are you starting out in business?

Are you starting out in business?

Thinking of taking a business tenancy? Here, Ian Powell, commercial director at BTMK solicitors reveals a few things to be aware of. 

How long should a lease take? Is there any way I can end the lease early?

Circumstances can easily change for any business, so often a shorter lease is better.  The problem with a lease that’s too long is that, even if you sell or ‘assign’ your lease, you remain responsible for the rent, and other tenant obligations, for the entire term.  This means that if the person you assign the lease to, does not pay the rent or does not maintain or decorate the property, the Landlord can still ask you to pay the rent money or do the necessary works. 

If you have no option but to take a longer lease you should try to include a ‘break clause’.  This potentially allows you to bring the lease to an end early.   

If there is a break clause in the lease, is there anything I have to do before I can end the lease early? 

Yes. Usually you will have to give notice to the Landlord, this is usually between 3-6 months. You will also have to ensure that the rent is up to date on the break date, and that you don’t leave any possessions behind when you leave. 

How do I know that the rent I am being asked to pay is the market rent? 

The best way to check this is to get advice from a surveyor or valuer.  This could form part of a survey which I also recommend when taking a lease because it provides a useful overview of the property you are thinking of leasing. 

What repairs to the property will I have to do? 

If the length or term of the lease is less than 10 years it is, in my opinion, unreasonable to ask you to do anything other than to keep the property in ‘no worse condition’ than it was in at the date you took the lease.  Evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the lease is very useful and this is another reason why I recommend a survey before you take on the property. The evidence usually takes the form of a Schedule of Condition,  or a Photographic Schedule which will be attached to the lease. 

What are the new rules on Energy Performance Certificates and what do they mean?  

Since the 1st April 2018 a Landlord cannot let a property if it has an energy rating of F or worse.  You need to ensure that the energy rating is E or better which will also have an impact when it comes to things like utility bills. 

What will I be asked to contribute towards, in terms of repairs and maintenance?

Usually a tenant is required to contribute a ‘fair and reasonable proportion’ of the Landlord’s costs in repairing and decorating the building and any common areas.  

If the lease term is short and the building is old I think it’s better for a tenant to fix the maintenance contribution per year or to cap it at an agreed yearly figure.  This means that you know how much you are likely to pay in any 12 month period.   

Will I need planning permission for my intended use? 

We can check with the Council at the outset to avoid possible wasted costs and long delays.  For example, someone wanting to open a gym or a physiotherapy practice in a retail area will almost certainly require planning permission for change of use. 

With many years of commercial lease experience, Ian will guide and assist you through the process. You can contact him on 01702 238511 or email ian.powell@btmk.co.uk.

About the Author

With over 30 years experience as a commercial lawyer, Ian oversees the Commercial Department at Madison House. His legal knowledge and expertise encompasses all aspects of corporate and commercial law, with a particular emphasis on commercial property transactions and business sales and acquisitions. Ian is renowned for his meticulous attention to detail regardless of whether the matter is the sale of a large pharmaceutical company, or the purchase of a local fish and chip shop.

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Blocking Out Light

Blocking out light

April 2018 was Home Improvement Month. I’m not sure we need much encouragement; with rising house prices, many of us are doing just that! Some very brave souls will even build their own home! 

Recent research into the number of planning permission applications reveals that homeowners intend to tackle home improvements worth nearly £51 billion over the next 6 months.  A large proportion of the applications are right here in the South East. 

But planning permission from the local authority is not the only hurdle to overcome: What if your dream build will reduce the amount of light enjoyed by your neighbour’s home? (Legal rights of light are not a planning consideration for the local authority; but rather a private matter between the parties). At worst, if your neighbour enjoys legal rights of light over your land which are affected by your development, they could take court action against you to prevent your works going ahead. 

Despite the drastic sounding threat of an “injunction”, in reality, a large number of right of light claims do not make it to court. Often, a neighbour whose light is affected will agree to “release” to you the legal rights of light enjoyed by his property in return for you paying them compensation. Sometimes, the compensation is substantial.

Case Study 1:

Mr & Mrs G had planning permission to build an extra floor to their existing property. However, the proposed build was calculated by specialist right of light surveyors as likely to cause an injury to their neighbour’s land. The neighbour enjoyed legal rights of light over our client’s land, and threatened to issue proceedings for an injunction against our client to prevent the building works.  

Using established case law and drawing on our specialist right of light experience, we avoided injunctive proceedings, and settled the claim against our clients. This saved them time and money and allowed them to build their extension.   

Case Study 2: 

Mr L, the owner of a leasehold flat, had lived there for 25 years. His building enjoyed legal rights of light over nearby land. A large scale residential property development nearby caused a significant injury to the light received through his windows, and therefore the developer was liable to pay Mr L compensation for that injury. BTMK acted on Mr L’s behalf to conclude an agreement where Mr L released a defined right of light over the developer’s land in return for a substantial five-figure settlement. 

 

However, if you are or will be affected by a neighbour’s development – don’t get too excited about a possible compensation payment just yet! Not all buildings enjoy legal rights of light over other land. That building will have no right to compensation if a nearby development reduces or injures the light it receives. 

That is why, at BTMK, the first thing we do is carry out a review of the Land Registry registers of title, and other relevant documents relating to the properties in question, to establish whether or not legal rights exist which benefit your property and/or benefit your neighbour’s land. Often this can save you time & money, as right of light surveyors will generally only be required to value the light “injury” if legal rights of light exist. 

We are here to advise you on all aspects of right of light, and are experienced in neighbourly matters. Whether you’re developing your property, or you’re affected by a neighbour’s building works, we have a dedicated team of specialist right of light lawyers on hand to answer your questions!

Call me today for a free initial chat on 01702 238553!

About the Author

Rachel is a Chartered Legal Executive in the Commercial Property Department, specialising in commercial property and business transactions, and Rights of Light (for both developers and individuals).

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Bullying and discrimination in the workplace

Bullying and discrimination in the workplace

Bullying and discrimination in the work place happens far too often. It can happen to anyone at any level, in any organisation and for any reason. I’ve helped employees in cases of bullying and discrimination, from a Chief Officer in a large public organisation to a part-time Office Manager and a factory worker in a small company. 

Bullying can sometimes occur because of personality clashes or as a direct result of discrimination. Discrimination can take many forms, from the obvious to the more discrete. There are nine protected characteristics which can form the basis of discrimination. These are:  

  1. Age 
  2. Disability 
  3. Marriage and civil partnership 
  4. Pregnancy and maternity. 
  5. Race 
  6. Religion or belief. 
  7. Sex 
  8. Sexual orientation.  
  9. Gender reassignment 

In addition part-time employees can be subject to a detriment on the basis of their working hours.  

Disability (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) is far wider than the general everyday use of this term, and includes anything from depression to diabetes or cancer, depending on the effect the condition has.  

If you are in a higher management position you may find that mental health concerns can be unfairly viewed as weaknesses. This was the case in a recent claim that I worked on. The employer took the view that the employee was no longer capable of his role after returning to work following his period of absence. That individual was subjected to significant bullying following time off for depression 

It is important that you as an employee know your options when dealing with bullying in the workplace. We can aid you in preparing any grievance, where necessary, and support you throughout the process. If you are dismissed or you feel there is no other option but to resign, we can advise you on the appropriate claims and represent you all the way. 

If you are not sure if you are a victim of bullying or discrimination, or you know that you are, or you have been, please give me a call for a free chat. I’m here to help. 01702 238529.

About the Author

Kristie qualified as a solicitor in 2014. She is a member of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department at BTMK. Kristie undertakes both contentious and non-contentious employment work. She advises both employers and employees. Her specialities include: Employment Tribunal Claims (including discrimination, unfair dismissal and TUPE), Contracts of Employment, Employee Handbooks, Directors Service Agreements, Human Resources, Business Transfers & TUPE, Settlement Agreements, Disciplinary & Grievance processes, Business Reorganisations & Redundancy.

Book a FREE Consultation

Want to speak to someone face-to-face? Book a FREE consultation and visit our friendly team in one of our offices - we've already got the kettle on.

BTMK Injury
BTMK Todmans
BTMK Marcus Baum
BTMK Solicitors
BTMK Solicitors

BTMK is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Company Registration No. 05466421  |  VAT No. 352170678

© 2019 BTMK Solicitors. Site by Essex Social Media Ltd.

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