Covenants and obligations are probably the last thing on the minds of most commercial tenants at this time of year. Unfortunately, however, the law doesn’t take a holiday and if you trade in a property, pursuant to a lease, there are a few things to keep in mind in the run up to Christmas.
Businesses linked to the retail and hospitality industries are those most likely to be affected; however, many other commercial tenants will also benefit from considering the following.
- Opening Hours
If the Christmas push means that you will need to use or trade from your premises for longer hours than normal, do check your lease to ensure that it doesn’t contain any restrictions in this regard. Similarly, certain leases - particularly those of premises in shopping complexes - will have “keep open” closes, which stipulate times of the day that you must be open and trading.
If you want to put up any kind of special signage on the exterior of your premises - or perhaps even just elaborate Christmas decorations - it is very likely that your lease will require that you first obtain your landlord’s consent.
- Alterations / change of use
On the same note, substantial changes to the layout of your premises or the installation of new equipment - to meet Christmas demand, or otherwise - may again require your landlord’s consent. Equally, if you plan to use the car park, or the space around your premises, for something other than its normal use, landlord’s consent will again probably be required.
- Building security
With the party season underway and the possibility of longer (or reduced) hours, it is very easy to let the basics fall by the way side, like ensuring that your premises and building are kept secure. GDPR and cyber-risks, unfortunately, don’t take holidays either and physical security breaches remain one of the most common ways that personal or sensitive data falls into the wrong hands.
- Building maintenance
Whether in rains or snows, this time of year will test the roofing, drainage and other physical aspects of a building. It is advisable to give your premises a quick health check, especially if adverse weather is forecast and nobody is going to be in occupation over the holiday period.
In the midst of all the Christmas bustle it can also be easy to forget about the bills. If you pay rent on a traditional quarterly basis, an instalment will probably be due on Christmas day (humbug). For a lot of people, however, the previous Friday (21st) will be their last working day. As such, do ensure that you have everything necessary in place to make any payments owing, before the holiday period begins.
- The year ahead - 2019
You will have been reviewing your property requirements over the year, but are there any actions for January that need to be addressed now? If you want to break your lease in the New Year and the deadline for doing so is in January, it would be advisable to start planning ahead and taking steps now. Equally, if you would like to take advantage of your right to renew your lease and a critical date in this regard is coming up in January, the sooner you can address this the better.
Generally, landlords will be understanding at this time of year. Also, where their consent is required, leases often contain a requirement that landlords consider requests and then act 'reasonably' when deciding whether or not to consent to something. However, sometimes the obligations in a lease can be unclear, or circumstances arise that weren't envisaged when the lease was drafted.
If you need any advice in relation to the terms of your lease over the Christmas period, do get in touch and we’ll be able to help.