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Commercial leases and repairs

By Mohammed Rahman

Borneo Martell Turner Coulston

In the majority of cases, commercial leases are granted on a full repairing basis. This means that the tenant is responsible to put and keep the property in a state of good repair and condition.

Some commercial leases have a covenant which states ‘well and substantially to repair’, changing the obligation of the tenant from putting the property in a perfect repair condition to a standard which an intending occupier would deem to be reasonable to the intended use of the premises.

As buildings age over time, a tenant may not wish to be expected to bring a 1970s property up to a standard of a 2020 property, but they must take sufficient steps to make good and keep the property safe against weather as far as possible.

Should a tenant wish for the condition of the property to be taken into account at the start of the lease and not wish to be expected to put the property into a better state of repair and condition than at the date of the commencement of the lease, then the tenant should agree with the landlord a limit of their obligation. This is usually carried out by reference to a Schedule of Condition.

A Schedule of Condition can be beneficial for both landlord and tenant as it will establish by way of photographs and written content, the condition of the property at the commencement of the lease. This will then provide some certainty to both parties of what condition the property is expected to be returned to the landlord in and will also reduce the risk of any dispute or litigation at the end of the term.

It is usually expected for the tenant to keep the property in good repair and condition throughout the term of the lease and it is usual practice for a landlord, subject to providing the tenant with reasonable notice of its intention, to be able to inspect the property for this purpose on a regular basis.

A lease would also normally have a covenant which is quite specific about decorating the property. Some leases even specify the type of paint and number of coats which are required, as well as the dates/years of when the property should be redecorated.

The main issues around repair and decoration usually arise at the end of the term of the lease (however the lease is being determined) when the landlord has obtained or is about to obtain possession of the property.

If a landlord wishes to re-let the property, they would wish for the property to be returned to them at a certain standard. If the property is below that required standard, the landlord may choose to take action against the tenant.

In order to avoid a dispute or limit the reasons for dispute, it would be beneficial for both parties to agree a Schedule of Condition and a standard of repairing obligations prior to finalising and completing a lease.

For more information contact Mohammed Rahman at Borneo Martell Turner Coulston on 01604 622101 or email

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