Guide

Renting business premises

Alterations to rental properties

There are a number of issues to consider before you alter business premises that you rent.

Planning permission

Planning permission is not always required if you wish to make alterations to the property - for example if you want to make changes to the inside of the building or minor alterations to the outside. Also, a specific application is not needed if you want to put up low walls or fences, although you should always check whether building regulations are required by contacting the building control section at your local council.

However, planning permission is generally required if you want to extend, convert or change the external nature of the premises. It is always a good idea to check with your local planning authority whether the development will require planning permission at the proposal stage. The majority of significant building work also has to conform to building regulations. Applying for planning permission.

Landlord's permission

Before you start any alteration work, you should check the details of the lease. You may need to get permission from the landlord. Unless the lease expressly prohibits improvements, the landlord may not unreasonably withhold consent to tenants' improvements. Also, you should clarify whether you will be required to reinstate the property to its original condition before the agreement expires.

Energy Performance Certificate 

If you change the number of units that the property is divided into (for example dividing one shop unit into two or merging two into one), which include fixed services for heating, hot water, air conditioning or mechanical ventilation, an Energy Performance Certificate will be required when the work is completed. It is the responsibility of the person carrying out the building work to provide the certificate.

Asbestos

Before any alterations are made you should consider whether asbestos might be present. 

Rateable value

You should also check whether the works you are planning will alter your rateable value. The rateable value of business premises is based on their open market rental value. Changing your premises may affect this. See changing your premises and business rates.

Repairs to rental properties

You also need to be aware of liability for repairs. If you rent workspace in multi-occupancy premises, liability for external repairs and maintaining common areas is likely to fall with the landlord. Check the terms of the lease to find out who is responsible.

You should also check the rental agreement to see whether there is any repair work pending. You may decide to commission a survey and ensure that any such work is finished before the rental agreement is signed in order to avoid paying the bill.