We act for a number of national and regional retail chains. This will involve dealings with both large institutional landlords as wells as far smaller individual landlords.
Even now, with many High Streets seemingly on their knees, voids increasing on a weekly basis and empty business rates potentially accruing, it is evident that some landlords are either not being advised by their professional advisors or are not willing to acknowledge the market shift in the lettings market. Upwards only rent reviews, potentially unworkable conditional break clauses, underlettings at the higher of passing or open market rent, full repairing leases (when plainly buildings are not in full repair), rents payable quarterly (rather than monthly) in advance are still being drafted, even where these points are seemingly covered in the Heads of Terms.
Clients need to be advised that they should not be accepting leases on this basis and to have the confidence that their solicitors are fighting their corner and ensuring that landlords come into line with good practice and, for example, the Code of Practice for Commercial Leases. This may mean building close working relationships with a client’s letting agents so that they know what to look to include in Heads of Terms to avoid delays in negotiations down the line. Alternatively, whilst always understanding the client’s timeframe and needs it is imperative to quietly but firmly argue the tenant’s position so that, come exchange, the client knows that when he commits to a lease it will be on terms that are neither unfair nor out of step with what a tenant should be asked to accept in the current market