Lease expiry? Bring it on!

A lease expiry provides tenants with a unique opportunity to evaluate their future space requirements. Maybe you need more space, maybe less space or perhaps just better space. Regardless of your own requirements, it provides us with the potential to negotiate an improved position, sometimes vastly so, on behalf of our clients.

Never be fooled into thinking that your landlord has the upper hand at renewal. Void properties are a real financial headache for landlords and you’re probably in a much stronger position than you think. The occupier market in Edinburgh and Glasgow is relatively subdued just now, so don’t assume that there are other companies out there, knocking the door down to take your space. Whilst the property is vacant the landlord will need to pick up the tab for vacant rates, refurbishment, marketing, service charge shortfalls, insurance and utilities. That’s a big incentive to keep you, so ignore all the bluff and bluster.

We have unrivaled experience in negotiating lease renewals and we have exclusive access to comparable transactions being completed in the wider market place. To ensure the best possible outcome, planning for a lease renewal should typically commence between 12-18 months prior to the end of any existing lease. This will give you a chance to consider all the options (including an alternative premises).

Sadly, lease renewals are usually not considered by occupiers until a time too close to their lease expiry date. In many cases the opportunity to really take advantage of the situation is lost. This is simply due to the vast amount of time needed to professionally address all of the many moving parts that are inherent in a successful lease renewal.

If tenants are to avoid missing these opportunities and have any ambition of achieving positive outcomes that meets their business needs, then a detailed and up to date knowledge of the following is essential;

Market conditions

Anticipated trends

Comparable evidence (up-to-date, actual and detailed)

Incentives

Future service charge expenditure

Cost Analysis (renewing against moving)

North specialise in end of lease renewals. We have a successful track record in representing a wide range of businesses and we love seeing the financial benefits they can bring to our clients. If you have a lease expiry approaching and need expert advice, get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling 0141 354 8962.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Finding an Office

Let’s get down to business.

We don’t want to make a daunting task like finding a new office seem any harder than it has to be, which is why we’ve put together this No-Nonsense Guide to Finding a business space, simplifying the process into five manageable steps.

Step 1: Decide why you want a new office

First things first: why are you actually looking to move? It sounds simple, but it’s a question not to be overlooked.

Is your company increasing in size, but your workspace doesn’t have the capacity?

Is your present location inconvenient for employees and/or clients?

Are your current surroundings not conducive to creativity and productivity?

Do you think you’re not getting value for money at your current place?

Would flexible terms be more suitable for the growth of your business?

There are many possible reasons why you may be looking to move, but it’s essential to know your objective before you start looking.

We recommend making a list of the top five reasons why you’re looking for a new premises. Once you’ve established that, you can move onto the details.

Step 2: Determine what you want for your new office

Next it’s time to think about what you want from your office or industrial unit.

Of course, certainly things will be less (or non-) negotiable – like budget. Fix your figure and stay firm. But most of the other decisions to be made will depend on the wants and needs of you and your team.

It’s essential to take your whole company’s opinions and preferences into account when relocating. At best, picking an office that doesn’t suit them will damage morale. At worst, it could cause some to leave the company. And picking an office with extra amenities no longer equates to spending more money. Plenty of serviced offices now come with a wide variety of perks – from onsite gyms to afterwork beers – in their standard monthly rental.

Luckily, it’s not a huge endeavour to include your team in decision-making; it’s easier now than ever to use an online form creator such as Typeform or SurveyMonkey to circulate a questionnaire around employees. Within it, we recommend asking questions such as:

Where would you most like to be based?

Is there anywhere you would actively not like to be based?

Would you prefer an open plan setup or smaller, more private offices?

Which 5 facilities would you consider essential in the office?

Once you’ve analysed the results, it’s time to begin the search.

Step 3: Browse offices or call a tenant advisor

Depending on how you want to go about it, you can now choose between trawling through pages of online listings, or calling one of our knowledgeable and friendly tenant advisors.

Our highly-experienced tenant advisors are always happy to assist you if you need advice. They can also give you access to excellent off-market options that you won’t find elsewhere.

Step 4: Pick your perfect office

Once you’ve narrowed the choice down to a shortlist, you can think about organising viewings. Before you arrive though, we recommend that you make a list of questions for you to ask your host. This may include:

What costs are included in my monthly rental?

When is the space available from?

How do meeting rooms work? Are they an extra cost?

Is it 24 hour access? If not, when can we access?

Who do we reach out to if there’s a problem? How quick do those problems get solved?

How fast is the WiFi?

Where are the best places for lunch nearby?

Don’t forget that lease and licence terms can also be negotiated. Don’t hesitate to loop in your tenant advisor if you’d like some advice on terms and/or pricing, and just to avoid disappointment, we’d recommend having a favourite and a backup, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Step 5: Move in and start working

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, it’s time to move! Our office move checklist is a great place to start to ensure that you’ve done everything you need to before moving, from notifying utilities providers, to making sure that the whole team knows what’s going on and is ready on time.

If you’ve opted for a serviced office then you’ll now fully grasp the convenience of a plug-and-play setup. You’ll be well into your to-do list by lunchtime!

If your space is unfurnished and you’re looking to fit it out yourself, do get in touch with your tenant advisor – they have plenty of experience helping companies fit out new spaces, and can make the process as quick, easy, and pain-free as possible.

For expert, unbiased advice and help on all aspects of moving office in Glasgow or Edinburgh, contact North Property Advisors for an initial meeting on 0141 354 8962, or email us at [email protected].

How to manage your office move

The end of your lease may seem like a long way off but even with the most meticulous planning, identifying and securing the right space always takes longer than you would expect. If your lease expires in or before Summer 2021 – now is exactly the right time to put your planning process into gear, to avoid a last-minute rush (and missing out on the office of choice).

If you’ve been assigned the task of managing the move, here’s what should be on your radar right now…

Define your operational goals

What do you want to achieve from the move? First and foremost, you need to secure the correct amount of space for your team. Whether you’re upsizing, downsizing or consolidating, an accurate assessment of near-future staffing levels is essential. Key lease events and the need for more (or less) space tend to be the most common triggers for relocation, but there could be other benefits to moving. Other than ‘more desks’, points to consider may include the following:

Enhancing your brand – how well does your current premises align with the image you want your company to portray? What would you change to make it a better fit? What do your clients think of your current space and is it easily accessible to them?

A catalyst for new ways of working – perhaps you’d like to be more dynamic in terms of open, collaborative workspaces and hot-desking. Creating a modern environment will also help you secure the best employees and retain the ones you have.

Join a hub or cluster – would your finance company benefit from a move closer to Glasgow’s ISFD? Or do you want to be closer to Edinburgh’s Fintech cluster? Your next move could be the opportunity for your firm to move into your location of choice, where all the action is.

Short-list your options

You’ve set-out what your business wants to achieve from a move. It’s now time to focus on bricks and mortar. Rather than trawling the market for hours on end, identify a benchmark to work against: a hypothetical picture of your ‘ideal’ office space.

Ask your colleagues for their opinion on what features a new office should have. You’ll probably get lots of different views and opinions, but it will help you make an informed choice. Listening to the needs of others means you’ve covered all the bases and nothing slips through the net.

Features to focus on include:

Budget (including rates and service charges)

Capacity

Location (don’t just consider yourself, also think about your clients and staff)

Bespoke needs (office layout, executive offices, reception area, number of meeting rooms, presentation suites, mail room, secure storage. etc.)

IT & Services (power and data points, cabling, comms/server rooms, telephony, backup power, on-site support)

Staff amenities (kitchen, toilets, break out spaces, showers)

Building facilities (secure 24-hour access, disabled access, lifts, concierge, gym, parking)

Local facilities (nearest tube, bars, shops, sandwich shops)

Get expert advice

To make sense of the market, expert input from an agent is necessary. But be cautious – many agents act for both landlords and tenants which can cause a conflict of interest. You can address the issue by instructing an agent that acts solely for occupiers.

Preparing for moving day

Fast forward to 2019 – you’ve acted early, and with the help of your agent, you’ve been able to secure your preferred option that fits perfectly with the needs of your business.

It also means that your date of entry corresponds exactly with the expiry date of your current lease, meaning that you haven’t had to implement any awkward stop-gap arrangements. Your removal company is primed ready to go and your IT team have their plan worked out to ensure business continuity. Leave unwanted items in storage to keep the new office tidy.

Most importantly of all, your team are delighted with their new space and you’ve done a great job.

For expert, unbiased advice on the market and help on all aspects of moving office in Glasgow or Edinburgh, contact North Property Advisors for an initial meeting on 0141 354 8962, or email us at [email protected]

Top legal tips for leasing an office

Let’s face it. For most occupiers, negotiating the legal clauses in a commercial lease can be a bit daunting. It’s probably not familiar territory and you’d rather spend the time focusing on your business. We’ve pulled together some top tips to help you avoid the legal pitfalls in commercial real estate:

Read the small print

The demands and expectations of occupiers are often very different from those of their landlords, who are more often property savvy.  From the outset, it’s important to be very clear about the liabilities and obligations contained within your lease.

In all the excitement and buzz of finding new premises, it’s easy to forget about specific lease clauses and how they impact on your occupation of the space. Do you need landlord consent for structural changes? When do I need to serve my break notice? Do I need to maintain the premises externally? Paying careful attention to your obligations in the lease can save you a fortune further down the line.

Avoid ambiguity

Some landlords prefer to leave the language in their lease agreement vague so that there is a chance that they will win an argument based on the uncertainty of the wording in the future. Are you prepared to take that gamble, or would you rather know about the outcome before it happens?

Whilst you can’t account for every eventuality in a lease, it’s important to avoid loose clauses which could be open to interpretation. It might cost you more time now, but at least you know where you stand further down the line.

Just ask

It is easy to agree terms because they are what everyone else agrees to and what is considered “industry standard”. Obviously, there are clauses which are designed to be standard, such as service charges in multi-let buildings. Most occupiers would understand why these need to be fixed. But most of the other clauses are up for grabs.

Quarterly rents are old hat. Who wants to tie up cash three months in advance in this day and age? Try asking for monthly rents. That is just one example. The point is, do not be deterred by the argument put forward by the landlord’s lawyer that the clause you don’t like is “standard”.

Build in flexibility

Business can move fast and even though an occupier might know what they want at the start of the lease, it is quite common for requirements to change within a very small timeframe. Company mergers or acquisitions, new contract wins or even changes in legislation can all have an impact on the space you occupy.  It is useful to try to have as much flexibility as possible, so you can adjust your space requirements to suit the needs of your business.

A break clause is a good example of how a tenant may have flexibility for the future, allowing the tenant the comfort of knowing he can leave earlier if he wishes. But be careful, break clauses in leases are littered with traps designed to deny the tenant the break they’ve asked for – falling foul of these can be catastrophic for your business.

End of lease obligations

Occupiers usually don’t think too much about their end of lease obligations and liabilities before they sign a contract. Unfortunately, dilapidation disputes are very common in commercial property and can ultimately end up in court.  You should familiarise yourself with the lease terms and their implications and take steps to minimise your exposure to dilapidation claims by the landlord.

It is important that tenants consider their potential future dilapidations liability in good time, and budget for that future obligation. Provision made in advance, may be allowable against future taxes. If you undertake alteration works to the premises then it is likely that your landlord may require you to reinstate those alterations shortly before the end of the lease (regardless of whether you see them as a benefit). A Licence for Alterations (or Licence to Alter) can be agreed which sets out the obligation.

Leases are complex documents with many hidden traps but, with some good advice and careful planning, you can limit your exposure and liabilities. To learn more about anything discussed in this article, email [email protected] or call us on 0141 354 8962