Renting Commercial Property

Renting Commercial Property in North West London

Whether you are a start-up or an established organisation looking for a new commercial property, it can be difficult navigating the market to find the right space. There’s a lot to consider, so we’ve put together a commercial property renting guide that covers all the basics you need to know.

Choose the ideal location

Whatever you intend to use the commercial space for – be it for offices, retail, warehousing etc. – you’ll want to find the ideal location to support your activities. When searching for commercial space in North West London, it’s important to pinpoint the areas which will best serve your business and employees.

For example, if you are setting up a retail outlet it needs to have good access and be in an area that has a high level of footfall to attract customers – such as Willesden High Road. Whereas office spaces should ideally be located nearby to train or bus stations, or be accessible by car – Dollis Hill & Neasden would be a great choice as both offer excellent transport links and can be easily accessed by car.

In some areas councils also offer commercial incentives to business owners, developing enterprise zones and business improvement districts that offer competitive rates and help to establish a local network that promotes business activity. You can visit the Brent Council website for details on any commercial incentives available to business owners in the borough such as incentives to reduce business rates.

Identify the right type of property

Once you have a good idea of the location, you have to narrow down your search to the type of commercial building you’d like to rent.

You also have to ensure that the property is in good condition and worth the rent that is being charged. When viewing a property look at things like security, wear and tear, damp, plumbing issues and anything similar. If you do like the building but spot any issues ask the agent or landlord whether these can be resolved before any potential move in date.

Also assess things such as:

  • How much commercial space will you initially need?
  • Is there room available for expansion?
  • Do you want an open-plan space or one with ready-made fixtures?
  • Does the building have planning permission or any alterations or will this have to be sought from the council?
  • What is the scope of alterations the landlord will allow during your occupation period?

There are also a number of other fundamental factors to consider when looking around, related to staff and your operations. This includes:

  • The availability of local transport links
  • Furniture and equipment basics needed to get started
  • How close the space is located to staff and customers
  • Staff facilities
  • Nearby amenities or breakfast/lunch periods
  • Available delivery/despatch facilities
  • Parking space for staff and customers

Other costs

Aside from the rent there are other costs to factor in. The service charge we mentioned above will contribute towards the maintenance of shared areas of the building, such as the toilets, foyers and stairways etc. If any repair or redecoration takes place it will also cover those costs.

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax: The cost is based on a combination of the premium and rent, and is only payable on certain properties above a certain minimum threshold.
  • VAT: This isn’t payable on all buildings, but it will be due on some.
  • Professional fees: Payments for services such as commercial property agents and solicitors.
  • Removal charges: Cost to move to new premises (if an existing company).
  • Set-up costs: Investing in new equipment/furniture for the property.

When searching for a commercial property it is a good idea to seek advice from a professional commercial property agent. They will have access to the very latest market information and trends and can help you secure a good deal.

As energy costs will also be something you need to factor into your monthly outgoings, always ensure you receive an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before you move in so you are aware of the building’s energy efficiency.

Commercial tenancy agreement

Once you have identified the building you would like to lease, the next step involves negotiation and signing an agreement or licence.

Traditionally, lease lengths used to last anywhere from 5 to 25 years, but this has changed in recent times, with more flexible options available to businesses, and this sort of flexibility is ideal for smaller firms in particular.

Start-ups may prefer to secure a licence instead of a lease, which can be as short as 6 months and paid weekly or monthly, so you are not tied into a long-term commitment. One potential downside to this is you won’t be able to renew the licence once it expires, so if things are going well and the business is likely to remain operational for longer, it is a good idea to review your long term plans before the licence ends. Another option could be to take up a contract in a serviced office, which will also usually provide greater flexibility on short and long-term contracts.

Double check the length of the lease in the contract you receive to ensure you are satisfied with the agreement, along with details about rent reviews, service charges, subletting options, deposit requirements and personal guarantors. Also ensure there are no ongoing hidden charges that have not yet been mentioned. Before you sign the lease you can ask the commercial property agent / landlord questions like:

  • How long does the lease last for?
  • What are the deposit requirements?
  • Do I require a guarantor?
  • Is there an option to renew?
  • What are the associated business rates?
  • Are there any other costs involved (service/maintenance fees)?
  • Does the lease include any break clauses?
  • Are there any rent-free periods included? (this allows you to serve notice without penalty)
  • Am I able to sublet?
  • What property services do I have access to?

Put down an offer

Once you are satisfied with the property you can put forward an offer to the landlord (if dealing directly), or through the managing commercial property agent. viewings take place at a time most suitable to both you and the buyers and will keep you updated on any developments or feedback throughout the viewing process.

There may be some negotiation involved, depending on the amount you offer, competition, company history, current commercial property market conditions and other factors. One of these points could involve asking the landlord or agent to no longer market the property so other parties do not come forward with counter offers.

A way around this may be to offer a holding deposit (that will be non-refundable if you cancel the lease) which will allow the property to be taken off the market so the final details of the deal can be finalised.

A heads of terms document can then be drafted, which will contain all the relevant details of the agreement. This is a draft of the main contract and is not legally binding, and will feature things such as the length of the agreement, value, payment requirements, building address and more. Once you have finished negotiation then a full legally binding contract can be put together.

It’s a good idea to arrange a building survey ahead of signing the contract so you are aware of the building’s condition and if any repairs or maintenance is required. The survey will look at every aspect of the property and highlight any issues that may need to be addressed. Using a Schedule of Condition will allow you to create a detailed report that includes images and it can then be attached to the tenancy agreement.

Also carry out a local search to see if there are any plans that could have an impact on the property. This can be done via the local council, checking for things like roads, flood risk assessments and planning decisions which could affect the property.

Finalise the deal

If you are satisfied with the property after performing the relevant checks, the legal agreement will be drawn up by the relevant solicitors, signed by both parties, and the contracts exchanged. It is at this point that the deal become legally binding, so if you wish to cancel there will likely be financial penalties involved.

All that is left is to pay is the remaining balance set out in the agreement and the deal is completed, and you can prepare for the agreed move-in date.

Looking to rent commercial property in North West London?

If you are looking to rent commercial property for your business, we have a varied portfolio of commercial properties to rent in Willesden Green, Neasden, Dollis Hill and the surrounding North West London areas. We can help you find the perfect commercial property for your business that matches your exact requirements. Get in touch with our expert commercial property team today on 020 8459 2530 or email us.