A break notice or break clause is an essential part of any commercial lease, since it allows either the landlord or tenant to terminate the lease early. So far so simple. But making sure the break notice is worth the paper it’s written on? That’s where many commercial leases go wrong.
Why do you need a break clause?
The break clause can be one of the most difficult elements to negotiate in a commercial lease. Yet, there are clear benefits to both tenants and landlords. For the tenant, a break clause gives a certain amount of flexibility to react to market conditions – for example, by downsizing (or perhaps moving to a bigger space) as the business demands. It’s a much-needed safety net for tenants, particularly in unpredictable times like these.
And what about landlords? Surely they want to hang onto tenants for the full term of the lease? For the most part, that’s true. However, sometimes a landlord may want to redevelop or sell the property before the end of the lease. The break clause gives them that opportunity.
The potential pitfalls of a break clause
The idea behind the break clause may be simple, but the reality is often more complex than people expect. The courts deal with a surprising number of disputes over commercial lease break clauses – specifically, exercising a break clause to end a lease early.
In many of these cases, the break clause has been drafted in such an ambiguous way, it makes it difficult to exercise the clause in practice. Or sometimes the procedure for exercising the break clause hasn’t been properly followed, or certain conditions haven’t been met. Whatever the underlying reason, these disputes can be extremely costly.
Therefore, when you’re negotiating a new commercial lease, it pays to give your break clause plenty of attention, and seek specialist advice on whether it really protects your interests. It could save you a great deal of money and legal wrangling further down the line.
At Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors, we work with both tenants and landlords across London and the South East to agree unambiguous break clauses in commercial leases. From leisure and retail premises, to offices, industrial warehouses and mixed-use schemes, our team will ensure your commercial lease works for you. Talk to us about your commercial lease needs.