the office relocation planning website

Office Moves and Property Solicitors

How a Property Solicitor can help when you Move Office

The main role of a property solicitor will be to advise on all the legal implications you face when moving office. This includes ensuring that the terms which you and your Property Consultant have negotiated are reflected in the final office lease.

Importantly, they will negotiate the detail of the office lease documentation to minimise your exposure to potential liabilities, and subsequently, to advise you on the implications of the detailed office lease terms in the final documents to ensure you are aware of your ongoing tenant responsibilities.

When acting for a tenant taking a new office lease, your property solicitor does the following:

  • Negotiates with the landlord's solicitor on the terms of the office lease and any other documentation such as rent deposit deeds and licences to carry out works to the premises. A typical office lease is around 50 pages long. Its terms are negotiable and the tenant's property solicitor will ensure that the office lease is fair and does not contain any hidden liabilities.
  • Carries out a local authority search which reveals all the information the local authority holds in relation to the premises. This reveals important information such as planning permissions authorising the premises to be used as offices.
  • Raises formal written enquiries with the landlord's property solicitor on various issues such as predicted service charge expenditure, fire regulations and other important information that the tenant needs to be aware before signing up to the office lease.
  • Ensures that all necessary consents are obtained prior to the office lease being entered into such as the consent of any superior landlord or any mortgagee of the property.
  • Prepares a full and detailed report to the tenant explaining (a) the terms of the lease and the obligations contained in it (b) the results of the local authority search and (c) the replies to enquiries raised with the landlord.
  • Calculates the Stamp Duty Land Tax payable on the lease, completes the Stamp Duty Land Tax return on behalf of the tenant and pays the Stamp Duty Land Tax to HM Revenue & Customs.
  • Once the lease is completed, the property solicitor will complete all post-completion formalities required such as the registration of the lease at the Land Registry.

Below are some of the key pitfalls of not using a specialist commercial property solicitor:

  1. You may end up with an office lease that has not been properly negotiated and therefore less favourable to you (the tenant).
  2. You may not fully understand all the obligations in the office lease and your potential financial liabilities.
  3. Failure to calculate Stamp Duty Land Tax correctly and complete the tax return will lead to penalties and interest due.
  4. Failure to register the lease at the Land Registry will mean that you will not have good legal title to the office lease.
  5. If you ever want to sell or transfer the office lease or your business, an onerous office lease or failure to have registered the lease might well jeopardise the deal.

Never sign anything that you do not understand and always seek legal advice before putting pen to paper to any legal document.

Further reading:
If your company is moving office you should refer to the Moving Office Employment Law Checklist to ensure that you are up to speed with employment law issues surrounding an office move.


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