The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Friday Guest Blog: Nolan Redshaw Offers Spending Advice

By Louisa Brown - Senior Asset Manager and Associate at Nolan Redshaw

Property costs can represent a significant proportion of a firm’s outgoings and they are an expense that can often be overlooked. Louisa Brown, a senior asset manager and associate at Nolan Redshaw, has advice on key areas where both owners and occupiers may be able to reduce their property costs:

"Business rates – with new rateable values assigned to business premises last year as a result of the Valuation Office Agency’s revaluation procedure, now is the time to check whether you are paying the correct amount of business rates. Where alterations or additions have been made to a property, this will have an impact on the level of rates payable so it is important to check that your property has been correctly assessed. It is also worth bearing in mind that ‘external’ factors, such as extensive road works, or the opening of a new retail scheme nearby, can also potentially give grounds for an appeal if you can prove that your trade has been affected.

Service charges – where service charges are payable, whether on commercial or retail property, make sure the cost of the services you are being billed for can actually be legitimately recovered under the terms of your lease and that any ambiguous clauses are not being used to the landlord’s advantage. Is the proportion you are being charged fair and reasonable? How has it been calculated? Are the services you are paying for actually being provided? Have they been procured by way of competitive tendering to ensure the best price is obtained? These are all questions which you are entitled to ask and have answered. You should also be provided with an annual certificate detailing what has been spent and you can request a breakdown of the costs and copies of invoices. Similarly, you should be provided with an annual budget detailing the anticipated expenditure and the services to be provided. All too often we find that service charges are simply paid by tenants as an additional outgoing without being queried or analysed. But with potential for money to be reclaimed, is it something you can afford to overlook?

Lease re-structuring – can you re-structure the terms of your lease to reduce your outgoings? Use the economic climate to your advantage. Similarly, if you are a tenant and your lease is due for renewal within the next 12 months, take advantage of current market conditions to secure new terms.

Where property is empty, what steps can be taken to improve its marketability and make it stand out from other available competing accommodation? Would minimal expenditure in dealing with repairs, redecoration or refurbishment improve the chances of securing a new tenant? Take advantage of market conditions to get competitive quotes for any works that need doing."

Nolan Redshaw can provide expert professional advice on all of the above and on any property related matter. Please contact Louisa Brown on 0161 763 0828 for further information.

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