Know what you want
Before you start looking for premises, make sure you have thought about what you really want from the property as a workspace. Perhaps form a list with all your requirements (price, space and location etc.) and then prioritise them in order of importance to ensure efficiency.
Negotiate rent terms
In order to secure a new tenant and get vacancies filled, some landlords are willing to negotiate rent or limit any increase at your rent review. If this doesn't look likely, you can always request a rent-free period at the beginning of the lease. This rent-free period will give you time to settle in and will even prevent your landlord paying business rates on a vacant property.
Flexibility is key
The standardised length of time for a commercial lease is between 5 and 10 years. If you feel this is too long or that it's a big commitment, you should see if you can negotiate a break clause. If you are successful in doing so, you are in turn giving your business a considerable level of flexibility with options such as growing and relocating.
Request lease renewal
The majority of leases offer the right to renew, however you have to ensure you stipulate this during negotiations. If your landlord refuses to offer a renewal, legal advice should be taken.
Be clear on what you are paying for
Ensure you keep track of what cost implications are involved in your lease and keep knowledge of when payments are due. Whatever the property looks like when you move in, ensure you record everything in a schedule of condition. Many use photos if it is in a particularly bad condition which will help ensure they are not liable for any of those repairs upon leaving the property. Additionally, as you will be required to pay them, you should make sure you consider business rates when calculating costs.
Get a second opinion
To get practical advice efficiently, it is a worthwhile investment to instruct a good professional team made up of a solicitor and surveyor. Other measures such as an asbestos report or electrical survey will also protect you from potential risk and may become a bargaining tool in the future.
Check planning permission
Make sure you check the planning permission is categorised correctly for your intended use of the premises. If you are unsure, a solicitor can find this out through routine searches involved in the conveyancing process.
Read the small print
As with anything you sign, make sure you check the lease through thoroughly. For your ease as well as ensuring protection from any small print pitfalls (expensive repairs, inflexible agreements etc.), you could opt to have a professional read the document for you.
Checking existing exit terms
Whether you are planning to relocate or not, make sure you always check the exit terms on the lease as soon as you have the paperwork. If you then look to move, you should carefully plan to avoid paying additional costs.