Finding You The Perfect Property
Commercial Acquisition & Relocation Agent

Frequently Asked Questions

QWhy should I use JAMES as my aquisition agent? Surely I can do it all myself?

A

Access more property

In addition to traditional selling agents listing property for sale through our extensive contacts we can access ‘silent listings’ and new developments before they are released or advertise to the general public.

Save money

We are professional negotiators. Being constantly immersed in the commercial property market we are well placed to achieve the best price and give unbiased advice on what price to pay. Of course sometimes the vendor is unrealistic or the client is prepared to pay above the market price in order to secure a property. However whatever the position you will proceed with your eyes wide open. And we are not afraid to recommend that you do not proceed or that you pull out of a deal if problems arise after agreeing terms.

Save stress and time

Most selling agents bombard you with inappropriate and unsuitable properties not listening to your needs. We do the hard work so you do not have to. We weed out the unsuitable properties and shortlist the most suitable properties matching your criteria. We also liaise with your solicitor and other appointed consultants acting as the lead consultant.

Totally independent

We work for you and you alone. We receive no commissions or ‘kickbacks from the vendors or their selling agents.

QDoes JAMES sell property?

A

At JAMES we made the conscious decision not to both sell and buy properties. If we were to sell properties as well we would have a conflict of interest. You will find many commercial estate agents that both sell and buy on behalf of their clients. These should be avoided.

QWhat qualifications do you have?

A

As Chartered Surveyor we hold the highest qualification in property in the UK. As such you are assured of the highest level of training and standards.

QWhat experience do you have in property negotiation?

A

At JAMES our staff are highly trained and experienced with a combined experience of over 50 years. As investors ourselves we know what to look for in selecting the best properties to buy. Negotiating is a real skill, a skill we have honed over a long period and we thrive on it.

QI am looking for offices – how much space will I need?

A

This will vary depending on individual requirements but as a general rule approximately 100 sq. ft. is required per person i.e. 10 persons would require 1,000 sq.ft.

However, remember that you will need extra space for meeting rooms, storage etc. At James we can determine your space requirements and build in flexibility for future changes.

QIs it necessary for me to carry out a survey if I am only taking out a lease and not buying a property?

A

Yes it is equally important to take out a survey on a lease as if you were buying a property. Most leases pass some repairing liability to the tenant so it is vital that you are aware of the condition of the property before you commit to leasing it. In addition to commissioning a survey of the building fabric other specialist surveys maybe required including mechanical /electrical, drainage and environmental surveys  James will advise what surveys you require and what added protection you need to limit your liability.

QMy lease is coming to an end. Can my landlord force me out of my building?

A

This will depend. Many leases especially short leases are excluded from the protection provisions of the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act and as such you will have to leave at the end of your lease with no legal redress. If you are fortunate enough that your lease is protected under the 1954 Act then you entitled at law to a new lease and the landlord can only refuse on certain specific grounds. At James we understand the legal procedures and implications. Where your lease is not protected extra care is required to ensure you leave sufficient time to negotiate a new lease on your existing premises or to acquire new premises.

QI will need to make various alterations to any new building. Will this be permitted?

A

You will need to consider obtaining a number of potential consents. Firstly you may need to obtain planning consent and building regulation approval. Secondly there may be restrictive covenants which prevent the alteration of the premises or in the case of leasehold premises  alterations may not be permitted under the terms of the lease or if they are permitted only with the prior consent of the landlord. At James we can guide you through this maze to ensure that you end up with a building suitable for your needs.

QWill I have to pay a rental deposit when signing a new lease?

A

We do not recommend that our clients take out leases in their own name as by doing so they become personally responsible for all liabilities under the terms of the lease. We always advocate that a company sign the lease as the tenant. Even so where the company has insufficient financial standing  landlords sometimes ask for the tenant to provide personal guarantees. This should be avoided at all costs. We will always try and persuade the landlord that no form of additional security is required and that the company is an adequate covenant. Sometimes however additional security has to be offered. Rather than offer personal guarantees it is better to offer a rental deposit. This can vary but landlords will often expect a deposit equivalent to 6 months’ rent plus VAT to be lodged with the landlord’s solicitor at the time of completion. This should be held in a designated account and returned to the tenant at the end of the lease term with accrued interest (provided there are no rent arrears that all outgoing dilapidations liabilities have been dealt with properly and there are no other breaches of the lease terms). At James we endeavour to minimise the need for any rent deposits as this simply ties up money when it can be used in your business. If a deposit is necessary we try to ensure that it is returned after a set period provide the rent and other charges have been paid on time and there have been no material breaches of the lease terms.

QWhat is a service charge and when is it recovered?

A

A service charge is a payment to the landlord by the tenant in respect of services that the landlord has provided relating to the building and is usually applicable to multi let properties where there are a number of separate occupiers sharing common services. Examples of such charges are for the maintenance of the structure of the building, the maintenance of lifts, lighting of the common parts. All matters relating to the service charge are set out in the lease. Service charges are one of the most disputed areas as between landlord and tenants and great care is needed to ensure the lease is correctly drafted to protect the tenants position. Whilst tenants understandably often focus on the headline rent the landlord will often recover costs via the back door via the service charge provisions.

James has considerable experience of service charge provisions and will ensure working with your solicitor that your position is protected.

QWhat costs should I budget for when buying or leasing premises?

A

Costs typically include:-

  • The initial purchase price (for a freehold) or lease premium (for a lease)
  • Stamp duty land tax and Land Registry fees
  • Professional costs for your solicitor, surveyor and other consultants
  • Any alterations including fit out works
  • Insurance
  • Agents fees
  • Rent in advance (for leased premises)
  • Service charges (for leased premises)
  • Rental deposit (for leased premises)
  • VAT may apply to the purchase price/rent
  • Double overhead costs to allow a smooth transition from your existing premises to your new premises
  • Costs incurred in exiting your existing premises e.g. dilapidations

QHow high are stamp duty land tax and land registry fees?

A

When you buy property, you may need to pay stamp duty.  Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) applies to any property purchase over £125,000, unless your property is in a disadvantaged area where separate rules apply.  The table below shows you the current limits (as at 2012):
Purchase price of property:
Up to £125,000 - 0%
£125,001-£250,000 - 1%
£250,001 - £500,000 - 3%
£500,001 - £1,000,000 - 4%
£1,000,001 - £2,000,000 - 5%
Over £2,000,000 - 7%
Remember that SDLT can also be payable when acquiring leasehold premises. The amount of SDLT due when buying a new non-residential lease depends on the amounts of the premium and rent paid. The provisions are complicated and require individual consideration.
Land registry fees range from £50 up to £920, depending on the value of the property (as at 2012).

QCan you arrange a building survey and other consultants?

A

We work with many third party consultants and only select those experts that we consider are best for the client.

We always recommend that the client commissions a building survey. Knowledge is power. If the report shows the building to have significant defects and to be in poor condition, you may be able to renegotiate the terms of the lease, negating or reducing the impact of the repairing covenants. Most leases require the tenant to put into and keep the premises in good repair. This maybe acceptable if the premises are indeed in full repair. However, often the premises are not in full repair. In such circumstances it will be necessary to limit the repairing liability e.g. by the insertion of a qualifying clause in the lease to the effect that "the tenant shall not be obliged to leave the premises in any better condition than existing at the commencement of the lease, the condition being as described in a Schedule of Condition attached to the lease". A Schedule of Condition before entering into a new Leasehold acquisition can significantly reduce your overall Dilapidation responsibilities at the end of the lease.

In addition to a building survey you may also require a survey of the mechanical and electrical installations, drainage and environmental issues.

At James we can recommend the appropriate surveys and assist in the resolution of any defects that arise from the surveys.