Signing and negotiating a business lease

Signing and negotiating a business lease
Grow London Local

Grow London Local

Posted: Thu 11th Apr 2024

A lease is a legal agreement between you and the owner, or landlord, of a commercial property. It gives you the use of a space from which you can conduct your business activities in exchange for payment.

Before signing a lease, you should check that the following line up with your business goals: length, price, location, service arrangements, deposits and any planning limitations.

Seeking specific legal advice before you sign on the dotted line can save you significant difficulty later. Sometimes, it will also be possible to negotiate the terms of your lease, which could save you money.

Top tips for anyone new to negotiation

  • Preparation: think about the outcome you're seeking, and also find out what the landlord or owner might want from the deal. The more you know about their motivations and timelines, the better placed you'll be to agree a good deal when entering into negotiation.

  • Understand the importance of power: are you an established business with a healthy cash flow or a start-up with limited resources? Crucially, have you thought through a good alternative to this deal? Don't let them know you've put all your eggs in one basket.

  • Aim to build a relationship: the best possible outcome is a "win-win" deal that can foster a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship between landlord and tenant.

Negotiating a good deal for you

Not all negotiations need to be complex. But having some parameters in place, thinking about what you want, and how you want to get it, may certainly help you feel you've got more say in the process. It will also prevent you from being pushed into accepting something you're not comfortable with.

In particular, make sure you work out at what point you're willing to walk away from a negotiation. For example, the terms of the lease might be too expensive, restrictive or otherwise inappropriate for your organisation.

There will likely be lots of instances where you'll need to think about negotiating a good deal for your organisation. Some examples will include:

  • Bringing partner organisations in to help you.

  • Hiring staff.

  • Collaborating with artists.

  • Attracting funding grants.

When thinking about your approach to negotiating, be clear about your terms and what you want from a lease. That way, you'll come away with a deal that ensures a good relationship with your landlord and helps your business grow for the length of your tenancy.


Your cultural and community space toolkit

If you're reading this guide as part of the toolkit for opening, running and growing a cultural or community space, next look at step 9: dealing with end of lease issues.


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this content is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the view of Grow London Local. Grow London Local accepts no liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from action on any of the contents of the content.

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