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A Guide to Taking on a Commercial Lease

March 4, 2019 Commercial Conveyancing

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  1. Introduction

  2. Commercial lease

  3. Tenant Responsibilits

  4. Commercial leases

  5. FAQS

  6. Conclusion


Welcome to the our guide to taking on a commercial lease, where we delve into the intricacies of entering into commercial lease agreements within Scotland’s dynamic real estate landscape. Commercial leases represent a crucial aspect of business operations, providing tenants with access to commercial premises necessary for their operations. Whether you’re a business tenant seeking office space or a landlord looking to lease out commercial property, understanding the legal responsibilities, financial considerations, and contractual obligations attached to commercial leases is imperative. From negotiating terms with commercial lease lawyers to navigating notice periods, termination clauses, and insurance requirements, this guide aims to equip prospective tenants and landlords with the knowledge and expertise needed to trade legally, responsibly, and effectively within Scotland’s commercial property sector. Join us as we explore the various aspects and interests involved in taking on a commercial lease, ensuring that both parties can operate with confidence and security in today’s competitive market.

Commercial Lease

At the heart of this process lies the lease itself, a pivotal document that formalizes the agreement between landlord and tenant to let the premises. Commercial leases in Scotland commonly adopt the form of a full insuring and repairing lease, imposing significant responsibilities on the tenant.

Upon assuming tenancy, the tenant becomes contractually obligated to maintain the premises in a state of good repair throughout the lease term. This entails shouldering the burden of any necessary repairs or maintenance activities, inevitably incurring additional costs along the way. While the landlord typically covers the cost of buildings insurance for the premises, it is incumbent upon the tenant to reimburse the premiums associated with this insurance policy.

Access to the buildings insurance documents is paramount for the tenant, affording them the opportunity to scrutinize the policy details and ensure comprehensive coverage aligning with their needs. It is advisable for tenants to consider securing additional insurance coverage to safeguard their interests comprehensively, particularly as standard insurance policies often focus solely on insuring the premises itself rather than its contents.

In navigating the complexities of commercial lease agreements, tenants must be proactive in understanding their contractual obligations and financial responsibilities. By fostering open communication with landlords and seeking guidance from legal professionals specializing in commercial leases, tenants can navigate the intricacies of lease agreements with confidence and diligence. This proactive approach not only mitigates potential risks and liabilities but also fosters mutually beneficial relationships between landlords and tenants in Scotland’s commercial property sector.

Tenant Responsibilities

As a tenant, you have a responsibility for the costs of any local authority repair notices, and for any commercial rates payable during the period of the lease. You are also responsible for most of the costs of the upkeep of the building and the running of the business.

At the end of any lease a landlord will issue a schedule of dilapidations, this is a list of repairs that are needing to be done to bring the premises back into good condition. These are the tenant’s responsibility and it has been known for a landlord to issue a list of repairs that is often overinflated in nature.

Enlisting the services of a solicitor may enable you to limit the amount of work that requires to be done.

You may wish to employ a surveyor to assist in highlighting the repairs that require to be done, and limiting potential problems as opposed to the list of work that the Landlord hopes that you as tenant would do to their property.

It is worth taking the time to ensure a survey of the premises is carried out before you take entry to the property. If there are any issues with the property, these will be highlighted in the survey, thus allowing these to be addressed by the Landlord prior to taking entry.

This is of vital importance as when the lease comes to an end it will be your responsibility to repair any defects (even if these were already there when you took entry), so that the premises is left in a good condition for the next tenant.

It is assumed that you will take over the premises in good condition unless, it has been acknowledged by the landlord and that he will waive such defects from the dilapidations schedule. The survey of the premises will also guide you in seeking to negotiate limitations on the dilapidations.

Many responsibilities fall upon the tenant as occupier of the premises throughout the duration of the lease. These include health and safety matters, complying with building standards regulations, etc as you take over as a tenant.

Whilst it may be assumed that you personally would be the tenant, it is often preferable that the lease be taken out in the name of a new limited company instead.

There are benefits to this including potential tax advantages and the placement of legal liability on the company and not on yourself personally.

This risk would be placed on the company so that if the business fails and the lease cannot be continued, the landlord will only be able to enforce a legal action against the company and not you personally.

However, a landlord may ask for personal guarantee for rent where a new company is being listed as the tenant, due to underlying concerns the landlord may have regarding the companies lack of assets.

At the end of a lease duration the principle of tacit relocation is applicable in situations where a landlord or tenant fails to give the appropriate notice to the other party to order to terminate the lease.

In the event that no termination notice has been produced, the lease continues under tacit relocation on the same terms as agreed, including the amount of agreed rent payable. Tacit relocation operates on a year to year basis, until the appropriate notice to terminate is given by either parties.

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Does a commercial lease need to be registered in Scotland?

Only commercial leases over 20 years need to be incorporated in the Scotland Register.

What are the typical lease terms for a commercial lease?

Lease Duration varies between two to 25 years and typically is 3 to 5 years. Short term rentals typically run between 1 and 3 years. Short leases with options for renewal are better suited than long leases with breaking clauses.

What happens at the end of a commercial lease in Scotland?

The default position is to maintain a Scottish commercial lease from year to year, until both parties provide notice.

Commercial lease lawyers

Our team of commercial property lawyers are here to help you. Whatever commercial property matter you need assistance with, you can rely on our experience and knowledge to find a solution that is in your and your business’s best interests.


In summary, the process of navigating a commercial lease in Scotland demands meticulous attention to a multitude of legal and financial considerations in order to guarantee a seamless and prosperous tenancy. The expertise of commercial lease lawyers is paramount in this endeavor, as they are instrumental in negotiating agreements and adeptly identifying potential pitfalls that could arise throughout the lease term. Simultaneously, prospective tenants bear the responsibility of conducting thorough assessments of the financial implications and obligations associated with the lease arrangement. Vital aspects such as understanding notice periods, termination clauses, and insurance requirements cannot be overstated, as they form the backbone of a legally compliant and responsibly operated tenancy for both landlords and tenants within the commercial property sector. By navigating these intricacies with diligence and foresight, businesses can confidently secure commercial premises that not only offer stability but also provide essential support for their operations over the foreseeable future

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