Moving Office Legal Issues
This Guide highlights the key areas which may require legal advice before, during and after your office move.
Your Guide to the Legal Issues when Moving Office
The legal issues surrounding an office move are paramount to the ongoing success and security of your business. There are 3 key areas of an office move that require special attention from a commercial, operational and legal perspective: -
BEFORE THE OFFICE MOVE: Tenant's “Exit” Strategy from Current Office
Whether your office lease is about to expire, you have an option to break in your existing lease or you want to take advantage of favourable market conditions you need to understand and evaluate your options. It is important you are aware of what notice you need to give to end the lease, and how and when it should be served.
The continually changing demands of a business often require tenants to vacate their existing premises before the lease has expired, and depending on the provisions within the office lease, there may be a number of options available to you.
You may be able to; -
- Negotiate termination with the Landlord
- Terminate the lease under a break clause
- Assign the lease to another Tenant
- Sub-let the premises to another Tenant
ACTION: Contact a Property Solicitor; let them have a copy of your current office lease and seek advice as to what options are available to you.
DURING THE OFFICE MOVE: Ensuring your Commercial Interests are Safeguarded in the New Lease
Taking on a commercial lease is one of the biggest financial and operational commitments your business will undertake. It is a legally binding document that imposes liabilities and obligations on both parties for the term of the lease. It follows that failing to comply with your obligations at any stage of the term of the office lease may be costly for the Tenant and have legal, financial and operational consequences.
Tenants who do not seek professional legal advice expose themselves to considerable risk and costly operational consequences further down the line.
Before you sign anything, ask your Property Solicitor to go through the commercial lease with a fine tooth comb and highlight any areas of concern and clauses that need to be either negotiated or clarified.
Ask a Property Solicitor to examine the office lease and advise on the following; -
- Whether the length of the lease is appropriate for your business needs
- Whether there are any options to break the lease and your entitlement to an extension of the lease on expiry
- Full details of your expected costs (both fixed and variable) including service charges, utilities, insurance, repairs etc.
- The basis on which the rent can be changed
- Your responsibilities for maintaining and repairing the premises
- Whether all the things that are important to you and your business have been accurately reflected and documented in the lease.
Be sure to allow ample time for this negotiating process as several drafts of the commercial lease are likely to be exchanged. It is therefore recommended to engage a Property Solicitor (one that specialises in representing Tenants) at the earliest possible stage.
ACTION: Do not attempt to negotiate your office lease without specialist legal representation. It is business critical that you understand the implications of every term and condition, cost and liability so you know what you are committing to.
AFTER THE OFFICE MOVE: Ongoing Legal Issues throughout the course of your Tenancy
Paying your rent on time and staying on good terms with your Landlord will generally help make any situation easier to handle and should allow you to enjoy your tenure and concentrate on the running of your business.
However, once you have signed your commercial lease, there may be ongoing legal issues that arise during the course of your tenancy. Should this happen, then arranging for a Property Solicitor to liaise with the Landlord on your behalf will help get any issues resolved quickly - and without unnecessary disruption to your business.
Employment Law Checklist
How you undertake your office move will have a significant impact on employee morale and staff retention.
Use the Moving Office Employment Law Checklist to ensure you adopt the best practice approach relating to your role as an employer.