Commercial leases can be complex documents. It is important for clients to understand exactly what they are signing because commercial leases can be preserving a valuable asset or an expensive liability. EM Law are experts in drafting, negotiating and advising clients on commercial leases. Our lead commercial property lawyer is Razina Akhtar who has extensive experience in advising clients on a wide range of commercial property matters.
A lease is the grant of a right to the exclusive possession of land for a determinable term, which is less than that held by the grantor. It is both a contractual relationship and an estate in land. This means that:
A person has exclusive possession if it can exercise the rights of the landowner and exclude both the landlord and third parties from the land (except to the extent that the landlord has reserved rights of entry, for example to carry out works).
Possession is not the same as occupation: a tenant may have possession by virtue of being able to receive the rents and profits of the land (reflecting the right of ownership) but the person in occupation could be the undertenant to whom the tenant has granted an underlease.
Commercial leases are typically fixed term and either a business tenancy within the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 or contracted out.
The general rule is that commercial leases must be signed as deeds although there are some exceptions to this (for example, short fixed term commercial leases (up to three years) do not need to be made by deed.
To be a deed, the document must comply with the following requirements:
In conveyancing terms, the grant of a lease is the acquisition of an interest in land by the tenant. In a simple transaction:
Commercial leases need to be investigated (if you are a tenant) so that you know that the landlord is entitled to grant you the lease and so that you understand what liabilities you are taking on.
Tenants of commercial leases should therefore carry out a full investigation of the property and its “title” and then negotiate in light of the findings.
Stamp duty land tax / land transactional tax may need to be paid. registration may also be necessary at the Land Registry. Specific notices may need to be given (for example if the lease is an underlease the superior landlord should be notified).
For any questions you may have concerning commercial leases contact Razina Akhtar.
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