Businesses: Options for Tenants following COVID 19
- AuthorSian Taylor
COVID 19 has brought with it many challenges and changed the way we work day-to-day.
With lease rents being one of the largest business expenditures, many businesses are considering allowing employees to continue working from home following lockdown. Even big companies like Twitter have advised that their employees never need to return to the office.
If you have a lease but are finding that you now have more office space than you need there are options available to you if you want to move to a smaller office or just downsize your existing office space.
When does your lease end?
Typically, the first thing you’ll want to do is check when your lease ends and weigh up if you are happy to continue with the lease until its natural end.
It is possible that your lease may also contain a clause (a break clause) allowing you to terminate it early so it’s worth checking if your lease benefits from this. Break clauses are generally very specific about the notice that has to be sent and the timings required for break notices. Failure to comply with these could mean that the break is ineffective, meaning you could lose out so it’s important to take advice if you do want to exercise a break clause.
Sell or sublet your lease?
If the end of the lease is some time off, but you no longer want to remain in that property your lease may allow you to sell it on to another person (known as assigning) or sublet the whole of the property (meaning you pay rent to the landlord and your subtenant pays the rent to you).
Leases do generally allow a tenant to assign or sublet their lease provided the landlord’s consent is obtained and certain criteria are met.
If the lease prohibits assigning or subletting the property this does not necessarily mean you cannot do so but the Landlord would have to agree and may impose conditions to allow this.
Want to stay in your current office but don’t need as much room?
If you like the property you are currently in but have just found that there’s too much space for you now, it might be worth considering an underletting of part.
This is where you sublet part of the property to someone else who pays you rent for the area you lease to them. This is particularly useful in offices that can be easily subdivided and are a way of cutting costs for rent on space you don’t need. You would still then have to comply with your lease but would be able to remain in the part of the office you hadn’t sublet.
It’s uncommon for commercial leases to allow underletting of part but if it is something you want to do you could potentially contact your landlord to see if this is something they would allow.
Is a surrender the best option for you?
If subletting and assigning isn’t something you want to do the lease could be terminated by both you and the landlord agreeing to do so – this is known as a surrender. Landlords do generally prefer to have a new tenant ready and waiting to take a new lease as soon as the existing one is surrendered or require the tenant to pay a premium for the surrender of the lease so that is worth considering.
If you want to move to smaller premises or like your current office but just don’t need as much space give us a call so that we can discuss your options.
I am a commercial property lawyer and I am based in our Colchester office. I can be contacted on 01206 217 337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.