The issue of dilapidation within offices is one which by its very nature is generally not an urgent priority for businesses or any commercial property tenants.
However, when an office occupant comes to move out of a particular property at the end of their tenancy agreement then the issue of dilapidation can suddenly become quite significant.
The key issue here for landlords and for their tenants is cost and, particularly, the question of who will be liable if an office has been substantively dilapidated to an extent that means costly refurbishments are required.
From a tenant’s perspective, the best way to ensure that you minimise your potential liability for dilapidation costs is by thinking ahead to the end of your tenancy in the moments before you sign the lease in the first place. You should also ask for what’s called a ‘Schedule of Condition’ which will outline precisely what state your office space is in before you become its official occupant.
Armed with that document, you can then conduct a photographic survey and equip yourself with all the evidence you’ll need to demonstrate what state the premises were in when you first moved in. This should prevent a situation in which you are being accused of being responsible for dilapidation that actually pre-dates your tenancy.
Work with your landlord
The general tone of relationships between landlords and their tenants can vary a great deal and there are lots of different dynamics that can come into play. These relationships can quickly become frosty, for example, when a tenant informs their landlord that they intend to end their tenancy and move on.
Having a good relationship with your landlord as an office space occupant can be important for all manner of reasons but certainly when it comes to allocating responsibility for dilapidation. Getting on well with your landlord should make it easier for fair compromises to be reached and for any requests for payment made against you as a tenant to be reasonable rather than excessive.
Get expert advice
It is not uncommon for the issue of dilapidation in an office to become a bone of contention between landlords and their tenants. If you feel that you are potentially being asked to pay more than is fair or reasonable then you should seek the opinion of experts in the form of professional surveyors.
Even within the scope of a few hours or less a surveyor should be able to offer you some clear advice on whether or not the payments being asked of you are valid and how best to proceed in your particular circumstances.
It could be that you will decide simply to pay what monies are being demanded of you by your landlord so you can move on and into your new offices. But if you do feel that the dilapidation costs have been substantially overstated then hiring a solicitor to help you make your case legally could be a sensible and worthwhile option.
Prevent problems where possible
Disputes over liabilities in relation to office space dilapidation and repairs can sometimes lead to acrimonious situations and even court cases involving landlords and their tenants. But good communications can help to ensure that these scenarios are avoided. It is particularly important that obvious issues with dilapidation are addressed periodically as they emerge as problems rather than all at once as a tenancy comes to an end.