Matters to look out for on inspection

  1. Check locations of meters, stopcocks, fuse boxes etc to ensure that all supplies of utilities are separated, metered and accessible for inspection and maintenance purposes.
  2. Check for obvious signs of damp or other building defects and consider specialist advice from a surveyor, building contractor, or, in the case of damp, damp proofing specialists.
  3. Check for means of space heating – is there a central heating system and, if so, is the power generated from within the premises or from elsewhere in the building?
  4. Check for means of generating hot water. Again, where is the source of power, in the premises or elsewhere in the building? Note that in respect of shared facilities, the utility costs will be levied proportionately through the service charge, rather than charged directly to you by the utility company.
  5. Check for any fire alarm or burglar alarm systems and consider having them tested. We would need to ensure that the maintenance agreements are handed over and that code numbers are disclosed at completion.
  6. Check for any services running through the premises which do not appear to serve the premises but serve other parts of the building and note that the lease will provide that the landlord and possibly other tenants in the building have the right of access to these services for maintenance and repair.
  7. Consider any alterations and fit out work that needs to be done and produce preliminary specifications and sketches for discussion with the landlord.
  8. If the rent has been based on an agreed rate per square foot, attempt to measure the premises. If there is a significant discrepancy, consider appointing a surveyor to carry out a professional measurement, though in a small shop it is unlikely that the discrepancy would be sufficient to make it worth expending a measurement fee.
  9. Bearing in mind that a full repairing and insuring lease will mean you have a liability for a proportion of the costs incurred on repairing structural items such as the roof, attempt to inspect the roof etc and consider having a survey carried out although, in the case of a small shop, this will be expensive relative to the amount of rent and the size of the transaction generally.
  10. Consider testing all services to make sure they are in working order and have not been disconnected, which would involve you incurring reconnection charges.
  11. Check that windows open and close properly.
  12. Consider the arrangements outside the premises, for example, is there a forecourt and if so can you use it for anything, are there parking arrangements, is there access to the rear of the premises, are there arrangements on site for rubbish disposal?
  13. Apart from utilities, identify which fixtures and fittings will be left in the premises and which, if any, are to be removed. For fixtures and fittings that are to remain, consider their state and condition and, where appropriate, whether they are in working order.
  14. Consider whether there are any common parts, either internally or externally, which the premises need to be able to use or which, if not necessary, would be good to have.
  15. If there are goods, items of furniture etc on the premises which appear to have belonged to a previous tenant, ask the landlord to have them removed at this cost.
  16. Try to assess whether there appears to be any development work going on in the immediate vicinity which might disturb you. Although this is a hazard we all have to live with, before you commit at least you have the opportunity to consider the likely impact on your business of anything that appears to be going on or imminent.
  17. Consider whether you wish to retain the shop front and your intentions regarding signage and assess the feasibility, likely cost etc.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.