The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every business in the country with many employees having not attended their usual workplaces since Spring 2020. But with most restrictions now having been lifted, what issues should landlords and tenants consider as they look ahead and plan their use of commercial premises in the coming months?
If you own or occupy commercial premises on a leasehold basis, you may need to consider:
- As tenant/occupier:
- how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your ability to perform the obligations under your tenancy/occupation agreement (e.g. payment of rent or carrying out repairs) and, for example, whether any Covid-19 related rent concessions agreed with your landlord need to be reviewed or extended;
- whether you still need all of the premises you currently occupy (e.g. if some employees are going to continue to work remotely), whether you need more space (e.g. if your business has grown during the pandemic or elements of social distancing are being retained) or indeed if the premises remain fit for purpose going forwards;
- the responsibilities you have regarding the wellbeing of your staff and the health and safety of visitors to your premises (e.g. around cleanliness, social distancing or track and trace systems);
- whether you need to carry out alterations to your premises to make them “Covid-secure” or to make better use of outside space; and
- how the premises could be improved to encourage employees back into the office on a regular basis (e.g. better ventilation systems or the use of apps to easily book desk spaces and manage attendance).
- As landlord:
- whether your tenants/occupiers are still able to perform all of their obligations under their tenancy/occupation agreements and whether any of these agreements need to be “re-geared” in order to secure rental income for the future;
- how to deal with any requests from tenants/occupiers to:
- terminate lease obligations early;
- give back surplus space; or
- expand their premises into outdoor areas of your property (e.g. to create an outdoor seating area);
- your obligations under any tenancy/occupation agreements regarding the use of common parts and whether, for example, consent is required from your tenants/occupiers to make changes (e.g. to create new one-way systems in the building or to temporarily prohibit use of certain communal areas);
- the responsibilities you have to the health and safety of your tenants/occupiers and what additional risk assessments you may need to carry out;
- how to recover the costs of additional services which may be required (e.g. costs of regular deep-cleaning of common parts or new signage); and
- whether you can impose new rules or regulations regarding the use of the building from time to time in response to updated guidance from the Government regarding the pandemic.
Please get in touch with one of the team for help if you are concerned about any of the above issues or any other issues relating to your property or development.
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