January 2, 2019
Leasing office space can be a complex undertaking for any business and is likely to be problematic for those doing it for the first time.
As a business owner, your first priority will be the day-to-day running of your business; that’s why it’s important to have a professional team in place to guide you through the office acquisition process, including:
An accountant: to help you establish what your business can afford and how much you need to budget for any initial fit-out costs.
A solicitor: to help you through the process of agreeing a lease and dealing directly with the landlord’s solicitor.
An office agent: to help you identify suitable properties, negotiate the terms for you and generally let you get on with running your business.
Once you have established your team, you need to give thorough consideration to the following before starting your office search:
Location: think about where your staff live and will you be able to recruit new staff easily in a particular location? Think about road access and proximity
to local amenities. City centre locations generally offer the best access to public transport, shops and leisure facilities, but business parks provide better parking facilities.
Self-contained or multi-let: do you want your own building, which will usually mean being split over several floors? Or would you prefer a floor in a multi-let building which is shared with other companies and would involve paying a service charge for the common services? If you have your own building, you have more control, but it is likely that your staff will not all be on the same floor.Image: do your clients visit your office or is it purely an administrative office? If it’s client-facing, then you will want an office that projects the right message for your business. Even if it’s not client-facing, you should consider what image you want to give to your staff and prospective recruits in order to help you retain and attract the right people.
Layout: most offices offer a clear open-plan layout and it’s the new tenant’s responsibility to install internal partitions and potentially a new kitchen and reception. While you may find some offices with partitions already installed, it’s always going to be challenging to find to somewhere that will suit your business perfectly.
Once you have identified some suitable options, it’s time to start appraising the costs of occupation:Rent: the most significant cost and normally quoted on a ‘per sq ft’ annual basis. Rent is sometimes negotiable, and it can be possible to secure a reduced rental period at the start of a lease, depending on its length.
Service charge: generally applicable in multi-let buildings and business parks and calculated on a ‘per sq ft’ basis.
Business rates: normally charged directly by the local authority and can sometimes be appealed. There are a range of other issues that need to be considered, including repairing liabilities, rent reviews, break clauses and your rights to sublet.
A commercial agent can negotiate these points on your behalf with the potential for significant financial savings. The time it takes to navigate your way through this maze should not be underestimated – all the more reason to appoint an agent.