Can I get out of a commercial lease early?

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on almost every business in the UK. For many businesses, it means they no longer require their business premises, or can no longer afford it. There are many other reasons, not directly related to COVID-19, that you may wish to exit a commercial lease. Maybe your operations have downsized or expanded, and the place is no longer fit for purpose, or you need to change location. Regardless of the circumstances, if you need to get out of a commercial lease early, there are several options which may be available to you.

In this blog, I will look at the factors which may affect whether you can get out of your commercial lease before the lease term.

Is it difficult to get out of a commercial lease early?

Getting out of a commercial lease early can be challenging – after all, the contract is designed to give the landlord an element of security and assurance. Whether you are able to end the lease early will generally depend on the terms of your lease, but you may be able to come to an agreement with your landlord.

Surrendering a commercial lease

If you have a good relationship and have been a decent tenant, they may be sympathetic to your situation, and you can come to some agreement. You may be expected to pay a certain amount of financial compensation for surrendering a lease. However, if they are unwilling to come to such an arrangement, there may be other formal legal options available to you.

A break clause in the lease

Many leases include what is known as a ‘break clause’. This clause offers both landlord and tenant the opportunity to bring the lease to an end after a predefined amount of time. Your solicitor can check your lease for a break clause and explain to you how this might operate in your favour.

If there is a break clause in your lease, you will need to adhere to its terms which may stipulate a period of notice and how you should notify your landlord. For example, you may need to provide your landlord with several months’ notice in writing, or you may need to notify your landlord at a specific address. These requirements must be met as failure to do so could invalidate your exit from the lease.

Assigning a commercial lease

Where there is no break clause in your lease, and your landlord is unwilling to negotiate the surrender of the lease, it may be possible to assign the lease to a third party. You will generally be responsible for finding someone to take on the lease, and the landlord must approve the third party before the lease can be assigned.

To discuss this, or any other Commercial Property related matter, contact me on 01483 887766, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Tamzin Mandelli

Partner, Commercial Property

Prior to joining Hart Brown, Tamzin had worked for a local authority, for both regional and national firms, and she had managed her own firm....

Partner, Commercial Property

Tamzin Mandelli

Prior to joining Hart Brown, Tamzin had worked for a local authority, for both regional and national firms, and she had managed her own firm.

Tamzin is a Partner with over 20 years' experience and she is based at our Woking office. Tamzin specialises in all aspects of commercial property including the sale and purchase of shops, offices and restaurants, landlord and tenant matters (from granting the new lease, through to the various licences for works, transfers and so on) and dealing with the eventual termination of a lease. She is also experienced at dealing with development work including option agreements and acquisitions.

Her most memorable case was the lease of some advertising space – for a well known electronics company in Leicester Square!

What do Tamzin's clients say about her?

"We have just worked on a commercial transaction together, which was by far the most challenging case I have dealt with (for a variety of reasons). Tamzin was extremely efficient and salvaged the transaction multiple times... I highly recommend her!"

“Thank you very much for all of your help and support. It has been an absolute pleasure working with you and hope to do so again in the future!”

"...thank you for your support with X, it's been good fun. Wish you were handling a commercial purchase for me! … lesson learnt, will place with you next time!"

“The service I received was efficient, professional and the members I dealt with both past and present have been helpful…and very personable.”