Please note: The information contained in this article is correct as of 22/07/20. Due to the developing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, guidance is subject to change. As a result, we would always recommend you speak with a solicitor if you require specific advice.

As lockdown eases, many businesses are looking to open their premises back up and welcome staff, visitors and customers back.

This must all be done in as safe a way as possible and so business owners and employers may need to re-asses how they operate and make best use of their premises.

One way systems, social distancing measures and additional precaution will need to be put into place. For those businesses which lease their premises, their lease will likely include a clause requiring them to comply with all relevant regulations and legislations. This will include the measures introduced to deal with COVID 19 and therefore business owners will need to ensure that they have taken all steps necessary as they may otherwise find themselves in breach of their lease.

Tenants may therefore find that they need to carry out alterations to their premises in order to comply with the new requirements. Such works may require consent under the lease from the landlord and this will need to be granted by way of a Licence for Alterations. Therefore a prudent tenant should always check the terms of their lease carefully before undertaking any work.

It is also worth remembering that leases may well include an obligation for a tenant to return the property to the landlord in its original state and therefore any alterations may need to be removed at the end of the lease term.

Furthermore, if they intend on displaying additional signage notifying people of the new systems, the consent of the landlord may be required for these signs.

Landlords are unable to withhold consent for such requests unreasonably, or cause unnecessary delays, and therefore given the current circumstances it is expected that landlords may be more generous in what they will accept than they previously may have been.

Leases may also need to be varied to allow for a change of use, for instance pubs may now need to vary the terms of their lease to allow for takeaways. Tenants may also have expanded out into common parts or walkways in order to allow for additional seating, or queuing areas, and the consent of the landlord will need to be sought in respect of this.

Farleys’ commercial property solicitors are experienced in advising commercial tenants on their legal obligations with regards to commercial leases. Contact the team today by calling 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form and a member of the team will be in touch.