Commercial Lease Guidance for Tenants

Last Updated on 6 July 2023 by Editorial Team

Everything You Need to Know About Commercial Leases

Leasing a commercial property is a major decision for any company, and it’s critical to grasp the lease agreement before committing to anything and signing on the dotted line.

There are several kinds of commercial leases available in the UK, each with its own set of features and benefits.

However, for first-time tenants, managing the whole commercial lease procedure can be difficult.

This guide attempts to make the process easier by giving a thorough overview of commercial leases in the UK, including types of leases, important terms and clauses to consider, and commonly asked questions.

Types of Commercial Leases in the UK

Before signing a business lease, it’s critical to grasp the various kinds of leases that are available. In the United Kingdom, the following are the most prevalent kinds of commercial leases:-

Full Repairing and Insuring (FRI) lease: The most prevalent form of commercial lease in the UK is a FRI lease. The tenant is liable for all repairs, upkeep, and insurance expenses connected with the property under this form of lease.

Interior Repairing (IR) Lease: In an IR lease, the tenant is responsible for the property’s interior repairs and maintenance, while the landlord is responsible for the property’s exterior repairs and maintenance.

Gross Lease: In a gross lease, the landlord is liable for all upkeep and repair expenses, and these costs are factored into the rent.

Net Lease: In a net lease, in addition to paying rent, the tenant is liable for some or all of the maintenance and repair expenses.

Key Terms and Clauses to Consider in Commercial Leases

When leasing commercial property in the UK, it’s critical to pay attention to the lease agreement’s important conditions and clauses. These are some examples:-

Rent: This is the sum of money that the tenant is obliged to give to the landlord in exchange for the use of the property. The amount to be paid in rent, the payment plan, and any late payment penalties should all be specified in the lease documentation.

Lease Term: The lease term is the duration of the lease agreement. The lease document should state the lease term’s start and finish dates.

Break Clause: A break clause enables either the landlord or the tenant to terminate the lease early, typically with a few months’ notice.

Obligations for Repair and Maintenance: The lease agreement should state who is liable for repairs and maintenance, as well as any related expenses.

Security Deposit: The security deposit is an amount of money given to the landlord to cover any damages or unpaid rent at the end of the commercial lease term.

Permitted Use: The permitted use clause specifies the exact purposes for which the property may be used. It is critical to ensure that the allowed use corresponds to your company requirements.

commercial lease signing contract
It’s important to understand the terms & clauses in the lease agreement or contract

Who normally pays for a commercial lease agreement?

In the UK, it is common for both the landlord and tenant to each bear their own legal costs for a commercial lease agreement. This means that the landlord would pay their own legal fees and the tenant would pay their own legal fees for the preparation and negotiation of the lease agreement.

However, the parties can discuss the allocation of legal expenses in the lease agreement itself. As an example, the landlord may require the tenant to pay their legal costs as a prerequisite of signing the contract.

Alternatively, the parties could agree to divide the legal fees evenly.  When discussing a lease deal, both parties should seek legal guidance to ensure that the lease conditions are fair and safeguard their respective interests.

What is the usual term for a commercial lease?

The typical term for commercial property leases in the UK varies based on a range of factors, including the kind of property, location, and market circumstances. Commercial leases, however, are typically for three to ten years.

Short-term leases of less than three years are also available for certain kinds of commercial property. These may be more adaptable and appropriate for companies that require a shorter contract period or must move frequently.

Leases of more than 10 years, on the other hand, may be more suitable for companies that require a steady location for a longer period of time, or for landlords who want to secure a consistent renting revenue over a longer period of time.

During the commercial lease agreement negotiation process, the landlord and tenant can negotiate the duration of the contract period. Both parties must carefully consider the lease term and any renewal options, as these can have significant consequences for the company and financial planning.

Do commercial leases have to be signed by both parties?

Yes, in the UK, a commercial lease agreement must be signed by both the landlord and the tenant in order to be legally enforceable.

A commercial lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that specifies the terms and conditions for the tenant’s use of the property. The contract will typically include information such as the lease duration, rent payable, both parties’ responsibilities, and any other pertinent terms and conditions.

Before the contract gets signed, both the landlord and the tenant must examine and agree on the conditions. When both sides sign the lease, it becomes a legally binding document.

Do you have to use a solicitor for a commercial lease in the UK?

In the UK, using a solicitor for commercial leases is not required by law. However, it is strongly advised to obtain legal counsel from a commercial property law specialist.

Commercial leases are complicated legal documents with significant financial and legal ramifications for both the landlord and the tenant. A solicitor can offer useful guidance on lease conditions, negotiate on their client’s behalf, and ensure that their client’s interests are secured throughout the process.

A solicitor can also assist in ensuring that all pertinent legal requirements, such as building and planning regulations, environmental regulations, and health and safety regulations, are met.

Overall, while it is not a formal prerequisite in the UK to use a solicitor for commercial leases, it is strongly advised to do so to ensure that the contract is fair and safeguards your interests.

commercial tenancy agreement both parties handshake
Both parties will need to sign the lease agreement in order for it to be enforceable and become a legal document

Do you pay stamp duty on a commercial lease?

In the UK, stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is applicable for commercial leases.

SDLT is a fee levied on the acquisition or lease of land or property in the UK. The total amount of SDLT owed on a lease is determined by the lease’s conditions, such as the lease’s length, yearly rent, and any other payments due under the contract.

The current rates of SDLT for commercial leases are as follows:-

  • 0% for the portion of the lease premium or net present value (NPV) of the rent that is below £150,000
  • 2% for the portion of the lease premium or NPV of the rent that is above £150,000 and below £5 million
  • 5% for the portion of the lease premium or NPV of the rent that is above £5 million

It is essential to note that SDLT must be paid within 14 days of the lease’s effective date, which is typically the date the contract is signed. It is the tenant’s duty to pay the SDLT to HM Revenue and Customs. (HMRC).

How long do commercial leases take to complete?

The length of time it takes to complete a commercial lease in the United Kingdom varies based on a range of variables, including the complexity of the rental agreement, the parties involved, and any unforeseen issues that may surface during the negotiation process.

The process of arranging and completing a lease can typically take a few weeks to several months. Several stages are typically involved in the procedure, such as:-

Initial negotiations: This includes both the landlord and tenant talking lease terms such as lease duration, rent, and any other conditions that must be decided upon.

Legal due diligence: After the initial terms are decided upon, the tenant’s solicitor will typically conduct legal due diligence on the property to ensure that there are no legal issues that could interfere with the tenant’s use of the property.

Lease drafting: Following the completion of legal research, the solicitors for both sides will draught the lease agreement.

Negotiation: The lease conditions will be negotiated by the parties, which may entail several rounds of revisions to the lease document.

Signing and completion: Once the lease agreement has been finished, it will be signed by both parties and completed, which will include the payment of any necessary security as well as other expenditures such as stamp duty tax.

The time required to finish each of these phases varies according to the intricacy of the lease and the number of problems that must be resolved.

Does a commercial lease need to be registered in the UK?

The registration of a commercial lease contract is not required by law in the UK. However, it is feasible and suggested that the lease be registered with the Land Registry.  The Land Registry can provide additional security for both the landlord and the tenant by registering the lease. It makes a public record of the lease, which can aid in establishing both parties’ rights and duties.

Furthermore, registering the lease can help to prevent the landlord from selling the property to a third party without informing the tenant. If the lease is registered, the tenants will be informed if the landlord attempts to sell the property, allowing the tenant to arrange a new lease with the new owner or take other suitable action.

There is a cost for registering a lease with the Land Registry, and the procedure can take several weeks. However, the advantages of registration may exceed the costs, especially for longer-term leases or those involving substantial financial obligations.


Q. Can I negotiate the conditions of a commercial lease in the United Kingdom?

Yes, the conditions of the commercial lease can be negotiated in the UK, but this is dependent on the landlord’s desire to negotiate.

Q. In commercial leases, who is liable for property insurance?

The tenant is liable for property insurance under a FRI contract. This duty may be split with the landlord in other kinds of leases.

Q. Can I sublet a commercial property that I rent in the United Kingdom?

It is determined by the commercial lease agreement’s conditions. Some leases forbid subletting, while others permit it with approval from the landlord.

Q. What occurs if I violate the lease terms?

If you violate the conditions of the lease, the landlord may take legal action against you. Eviction, fines, or a case to recoup losses are all possibilities.

Q. What exactly is a rent revision clause?

A rent review clause enables the rent to be reviewed and possibly raised at predetermined intervals during the contract term.

Q. Can I make changes to the property that I rent?

It is determined by the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. Some contracts forbid changes, while others permit them with the landlord’s approval.


Leasing a commercial property in the UK can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be daunting with the right information and advice.

Understanding the various kinds of commercial leases, important terms and clauses, and commonly asked questions can assist you in making an informed choice when signing a commercial lease deal.

Before completing, it is critical to thoroughly study the contract agreement and, if required, obtain legal guidance. You can protect your company and prevent possible legal problems by doing so.

Need help with commercial refurbishment works?

We hope you found our guide on commercial leases useful.  Are you currently a commercial tenant coming to the end of your tenancy and needing help with the refurbishment of a property ready for handover back to the landlord?  Then we can help!

We provide full refurbishment works for commercial tenants.

Call us for a chat on 0161 503 9075, or use our contact form to email us.  If you’d like to see what some of our customers have to say about our services, then you can read our reviews on Google.

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