Did you know that more than two thirds of small businesses are started at home? However, if all goes to plan and your start-up develops the way you want it to, it will soon outgrow your spare room or your garage. That’s when you need to think about renting premises for your business.

Becoming a commercial property tenant is different in some very important respects to renting or buying a home. If you are a first-timer looking to lease an office or some other kind of business space, there are some important points regarding the legalities and your responsibilities you should familiarise yourself with.

Here are some of the main ones.


Dilapidations and repair

If you have ever rented a home, you will most likely have expected your landlord to take responsibility for most of the maintenance and repair, even down to any appliances or furniture supplied with the house. With commercial tenancy agreements, this is often not the case. Landlords may include a clause in the contract stating that you, the tenant, take full responsibility for upkeep and insurance. In addition, there is often a dilapidations stipulation, meaning you have to restore the property to a good state of repair when you vacate it at the end of the leasehold.

Permitted use

Commercial premises cannot be used for any type of business purpose. Each one is assigned a property use class that states what kind of operations are permitted there. The different classes include offices, shops, restaurants and cafes, drinking establishments, hotels, industrial and so on. If you rent premises which are not authorised for the right use class for your business, you will not be able to get insurance and will have to go through the lengthy process of applying for a change of use, with the landlord’s permission.

Responsibilities to the public

If you plan to run a public-facing business such as retail or hospitality, you have certain legal obligations to your customers in how your premises are set up and managed. These include taking reasonable steps to provide disabled access and, in the case of restaurants and drinking establishments, providing public convenience and washroom facilities. If you do provide customer toilets, they must be kept in a clean and hygienic state, with regular checks and the provision of amenities such as sanitary bins. In many cases, companies find it easier to hire a washroom hygiene company to ensure they comply with the law.

Waste management

The laws surrounding waste control from commercial properties are different to those for domestic waste. In homes, there is little regulation of what goes into general waste, unless you have local laws specifying certain items must be separated for recycling. With commercial waste, however, business owners are required to ensure that anything defined as controlled waste is collected separately and disposed of appropriately. For most businesses, especially those with public conveniences, the main concern here is hygienic waste, so things like used nappies and sanitary products. That is why it is important to provide separate sanitary bins with clear signposting and to arrange for separate collection.

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