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Finding the Right Commercial Property for your Business

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Author: Tim Bishop

Property is one of the biggest overheads for small to medium-sized businesses. It is crucial therefore that you take extreme care over choosing a suitable and affordable property for your particular business.

Take a moment to think about exactly the specifications of the building you require. Does your business really require, at this stage, that you purchase a large prestigious office - could you make do with a smaller leasehold property to grow into, or even one of the managed business centres or serviced offices that are springing up in many towns and cities. You must then ensure that your business will really be able to afford your chosen premises. The fist stage is to wourk out how much you will actually have to pay - make sure you allow for all the costs - including utilities, business rates, any service charge, insurance, maintenance and of course IT. Make sure that your chosen premises are in the right location - it is amazing how many businesses struggle just because they are situated in the wrong location. Is it essential for you to be based in the city centre? Don't forget how important road and rail links can be. Make sure you plan for business growth - there's no point taking out a ten-year lease without a break clause if you plan on doubling the size of your business in say two years.

Although very few business owners try to deal with the purchase of business premises without a solicitor, it's amazing how many small and medium-sized businesses try to do exactly that when renting premises. While renting leasehold premises may not involve the risks that are the purchase of premises involves, any business would be well advised to seek the advice of experienced property solicitors before signing any lease. Renting commercial space can tie any business to potentially expensive and burdensome lease terms. In particular you should seek advice on issues of rent review, responsibilities for business rates and insurance, maintenance of the property, notice period, how and when rent is actually paid, and in particular any requirements to bring the building back to its original condition at the end of the lease.
 In any event it always worth considering more flexible short-term license agreements if your business requirements are likely to change - as these are generally involve less long-term commitment and easier to exit.

Don't forget when considering taking on business property, that in addition to commercial property agents and adverts in local papers, there are other ways to find your ideal premises. In particular don't forget your network of staff, friends, family and business contacts - it's amazing how often your own network may be aware of leasehold or freehold commercial property before it becomes available on the open market.

In summary, make sure that you do your homework before looking to enter a lease or buy commercial property and get the advice of a specialised commercial property solicitor.

About the author: Bonallack and Bishop are Salisbury Solicitors with considerable experience in advising on both leasehold extension and enfranchisement ( ). Tim Bishop is senior partner at the firm, responsible for all major strategic decisions. He has grown the firm by 1000% in 12 years and has plans for continued expansion. Tim sees himself as a businessman who owns a law firm.

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