When tenants take commercial premises by way of a lease they will in virtually all cases take on responsibility for keeping the premises in good repair whilst they occupy. This can be for the repair of the interior and exterior if they are taking a lease of the whole premises or interior only with a contribution to a service charge for the exterior with a lease of a unit in a building, on an industrial park or within a shopping centre.
Quite often I find a reluctance to have a survey due to the expected cost and the misguided thought that the premises will have been looked after by the landlord or previous tenant before they take occupation which will lessen any liabilities. If you bought a private residence you would not take the property without having had a survey carried out and the same should apply to commercial premises. Keeping the premises in repair can also mean putting it in repair if it is dilapidated when you take the lease. The same applies to the exterior of premises if you are contributing to a service charge where major works may be required.
If you have a survey done then we may be able to exclude from the repair or service charge liabilities in the lease specific items of repair. It may also be possible to have your repairing responsibility linked to a schedule of condition where you would not be liable to put the property in any better state of repair than at the date when you take the lease.
In the past I have had a few non survey clients call me within 12 months of the lease start complaining that the landlord has hit them with a large bill for repair quite often for the roof. This has far outweighed the cost of a survey and has had a significant impact on their profits. At that stage it is too late to do anything about it so do not be the tenant who has to make that call!
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Head of Commercial Real Estate