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The Business Magazine March 2024
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Do I need to instruct a solicitor on a renewal lease?

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Gemma Stephenson
Gemma Stephenson

Senior associate solicitor Gemma Stephenson, in law firm Blandy & Blandy’s award-winning Commercial Property team, explains whether landlords or tenants should instruct a solicitor on a renewal lease.

It may be tempting not to instruct a solicitor and incur legal fees where a renewal lease is being granted or taken. However, there are a few things which should be considered before proceeding with this option, as set out below.

Landlords

Where the lease is contracted out of the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 the contracting out process followed when the original lease was granted needs repeating on each renewal. It is imperative that the procedure is followed correctly otherwise the tenant may inadvertently be granted a lease with security of tenure.

Depending on the age of the lease being renewed, it is likely to require general updating to some extent as legislation and requirements change over time, for example:

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations may need to be added. Within the next few years, it is likely that all commercial property will be required to have an Energy Performance Certificate at all times. Where properties are below the requisite standard (currently an E rating, but likely to increase), it will be unlawful to accept rent on existing leases (or grant a new lease). A landlord in those circumstances will need access to the property to enter and carry out works to improve the energy efficiency rating (where possible) and without the relevant provisions in the lease, the landlord would not be permitted to do so.

The Use Classes Order was amended in 2020 and so newer leases will need to refer to the correct Use Class.

Tenants

A renewal lease should be reviewed to ensure that the terms are as agreed. Generally, the expectation would be that; otherwise than where agreed, it will be similar to the existing lease. A thorough review is particularly important where either the landlord has changed or their form of lease has changed, as the drafting may differ quite considerably. Even where a lease was acceptable several years ago, there have been market changes which mean that uninsured risk provisions and less stringent break clauses (both of which are beneficial to a tenant) are now commonplace, and we would seek to negotiate relevant updating.

There are other considerations aside from the lease document itself, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, where a form may need to be submitted to HMRC within 14 days of completion and any monies paid or a fine will be due. The lease will also likely need registering or the noting at the Land Registry.

A solicitor will check the landlord’s title for anything which adversely impacts the property or the grant of the renewal lease and also ensure that any requirements are met, such as obtaining lender’s consent where the landlord has a mortgage.

As you will see from the above, there are many considerations to a renewal lease and even though it may seem like a simple process, it is worth getting it right to avoid unintended complications and costly issues further down the line.

For further information or legal advice, please visit www.blandy.co.uk.


Stephen Emerson is the Managing Editor of The Business Magazine and is responsible for the publication's print publications and online properties including the newly launched Biz News websites in Hampshire and Dorset.

Stephen has been a journalist for 20 years and has worked at local, regional and national publications and led a team which made The Scotsman website one of the fastest growing news sites in the UK with over eight million monthly users.

He has a keen interest in technology, property and corporate finance and telling the stories of the people behind the successful firms in these sectors.

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