We aim to make the process of finding and agreeing terms on your new business premises as straightforward as possible. This page is intended to help by providing you with some basic guidelines about the process of leasing property from us. We are always here to help with any queries you may have and any information you may require. As you are effectively dealing direct with the landlord though, we are of course prevented from providing formal advice to prospective customers. If you are uncertain as to what you should do at any point during the leasing process, we would always recommend that you seek appropriate professional advice.
How long does it all take?
We are able to work as quickly as you need us to. There are many tenants each year who view a property, agree terms, complete the legal documentation and move in, all within a day or so of first viewing the property.
What happens first?
The first step is to organise a viewing of the property or properties that may be of interest to you. Each of our regional offices has its own in house team of Asset Managers. They will arrange to meet you at the property and show you around. Before going to a viewing it is helpful to have given some thought to the following:
How do I agree terms with you?
Once you have selected a suitable property, you can then agree lease terms with the Asset Manager. The agreement that you reach is then presented to you in writing, in a format known as the Heads Of Terms. This simply summarises the main commercial points of the lease, for example:
What other information will you need from me?
Before we send you the Heads Of Terms, we may well also require some information from you. What we need will vary depending on whether you are going to take the lease in your own name or whether it will be taken by a company. Generally though, you should expect to provide either proof of your identity and your address, or proof of the registration of your company and its current trading address. We may also require information about your financial situation and/or that of your company, such as the last 3 years’ audited accounts. We may also ask for a number of personal and/or trade references. We need some of this information to comply with the current UK money laundering regulations. It also helps us decide whether we need to ask for additional security from you such as a deposit, or some form of guarantee agreement.
When will I receive the lease documentation?
Once the Heads Of Terms have been agreed between you and the Asset Manager, they will arrange for 2 copies of the tenancy agreement to be sent to you.
For most of our units, we document the lettings using our standard format tenancy agreements. These are short (usually about 7 pages) and once the Heads Of Terms have been agreed, we are able to produce them for you very quickly. You will need to sign and return BOTH COPIES to us for completion. Please do not put the date on the agreements.
We have made every effort to keep our leases brief and make them easy to understand, but once the lease has completed, it is a legal contract. This means that both you and the landlord are bound by all of the terms of the lease. If there are any terms that you do not understand, you should obtain appropriate professional advice BEFORE signing the document.
What happens next?
Once we have received the signed lease documents and everything else is in order, we will arrange for the documents to be signed and dated. One of these completed original documents will then be returned to you. This is an important legal document and you should keep it safe.
When can I move in?
As soon as the lease has completed, you will be able to move in. The Asset Manager will arrange to meet you on site on the day of completion and hand over the keys, together with a copy of the tenant handbook and any other documents you may need.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What length of lease do I need to take?
Ashtenne’s standard tenancy agreements are designed to provide the flexibility you need for your business. On many of our estates, they are typically structured around a 3 year term, although longer leases are available and in certain circumstances and on certain estates, shorter leases will be considered too.
What does the deposit cover?
A deposit is collected upon completion of the Lease being signed prior to occupation of the unit. The deposit is held in a non interest bearing account by Ashtenne and will be returned fully at the end of the term provided that terms and conditions contained in the Lease have been complied with.
What does the service charge cover?
The service charge is a provision made within the Lease to recover a fair proportion of the landlord’s costs in maintaining and managing the common areas of the estate - for example landscaping, road repairs, lighting and security. The way each tenant's proportion is calculated can vary, but in most cases it is based on the floor area let to each tenant, as a percentage of the total lettable floor area on the estate. Service charge budgets are set every year for each estate and details are sent out to all tenants. Using the figures from this budget, all the tenants on the estate then pay an estimate of their fair proportion of the total cost and at the end of the year, these payments (known as 'on account' payments) are reconciled against what has actually been spent. If the expenditure is more than the amounts paid on account, there will be a balancing charge to pay at the end of the year. If the expenditure is less than the amounts collected on account, then the tenants will receive either a credit on their accounts, or a partial refund of the sums they paid on account through the year. A copy of the current year's budget for that estate will be provided to new tenants on occupation. For future years, the new budget is sent to all tenants at the start of each service charge year. The actual date that the service charge year runs from will vary from property to property.
What is maintenance rent?
On some of our estates, a different arrangement is used instead of a service charge. In addition to the basic rent, a smaller additional charge, called maintenance rent, is levied. This is a fixed contribution towards the running costs of the estate and there is no reconciliation at the end of each year. There would never be an occasion where you would have to pay both service charge and maintenance rent.
What does the insurance charge cover?
This covers the cost of insuring the building itself. It is important to realise that building insurance does NOT cover your contents and you will need to arrange your own contents insurance policy. The insurance premium is invoiced annually and a certificate of insurance is provided to you with your invoice.
How do I pay the rent and other charges?
The rent is payable in advance, usually either monthly or quarterly. It must always be paid directly to our accounts department based in Chorley, Lancashire. We strongly encourage tenants to pay their rent by Direct Debit and we can organise this for you at the time the lease commences.
Who pays for utilities such as gas, electricity and water?
This will vary depending on which property you are renting from us. On most estates, the units all have their own mains electricity, gas and water supplies. In these properties, you will be responsible for making your own arrangements with the relevant utility company and for paying their bills. On some estates though, there is a main electricity or gas supply into the estate, which is then shared by all of the occupiers. In these cases we will read the meters that record the amounts being used by each occupier and then calculate the proportion of the total charge that applies to you. This charge will then be added to your account with us and will appear on our next invoice to you as a separate item.
Do I need to pay the business rates?
Yes. Business Rates (also called 'Non-Domestic Rates' or often simply 'rates') is a tax on the occupation of commercial property, levied by the Local Billing Authority, which is usually a department within the local District or Borough council. The vast majority of UK leases therefore require the tenant to pay the rates and Ashtenne is no different in this respect. The tenant will typically be responsible for Business Rates for the full period of the lease. Rates are paid directly to the respective Local Authority.
What about VAT?
VAT is chargeable on rent, service charge and insurance at the prevailing government rates. If you or your company are normally able to recover VAT from HMRC on the supplies of goods and services you receive, then we would expect you to be able to recover the VAT we have to charge you.