End of Commercial Lease: What Happens | UK Checklist

Posted on by Prime Office Space

A person holds a contract and another person points out details on the contract as they discuss requirements for the end of their commercial lease.

If you’re a business owner renting office or retail space, it’s crucial to understand the end-of-lease process to ensure a smooth transition and minimal disruption. This will occur when your existing lease is set to expire, and you’re either looking to renew, or to relocate. In either scenario, the end of your commercial lease calls for several steps and considerations, both in legal and practical terms. And all of these are critical to understand, ensuring a smooth transition and minimal disruption to your business.

In the course of this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide for UK businesses preparing for the expiration of their commercial lease. We’ve compiled a detailed checklist to help you navigate this process with ease.

End of Commercial Lease Checklist

1. Review your Commercial Lease or Contract

Commercial leases are often signed for several years, so it’s important to review their content to make sure you haven’t forgotten any important clauses or conditions. Understanding the fine print is vital, especially when it comes to sections detailing lease obligations and processes at the end of the lease.

Within the lease agreement, key elements to pay attention to include notice periods, the obligations of both parties, and any requirements concerning fair wear and tear, cleaning, and repairs. Being clear about your lease obligations and the overall contractual terms will help prevent unwanted surprises or even legal claims after you vacate the business premises.

2. Provide Notice to your Landlord

Your lease should specify notice terms, and it may also outline how to go about the actual notice procedure. There is no set standard here, as some leases have a 6 month notice window, whereas others only require a couple of months or even less.

Similarly, your lease may require you to give notice by registered mail or through other means – just be sure to respect the requirements to avoid misunderstandings. You’ll also want to keep a record of your communications for future reference.

A landlord in blue shirt and tie sitting behind his desk and holding a contract shakes hands with his former business tenant, a woman in a white shirt.

3. Conduct a Preliminary Inspection

Once you’ve served notice as per the Tenant Act, the next step involves conducting a thorough inspection of the commercial property, whether it’s an office or retail unit. You’ll need to evaluate the premises, bearing in mind two key things: the lease requirements and the initial condition report. Condition reports are usually created at the start of the lease to document the state of the premises. These serve as valuable guidance for how a property should look when the lease comes to an end.

While you examine the premises, take note of any damages or discrepancies between what the lease requires and the current condition of your unit. Document these issues in writing or with photos so there’s no room for doubt in the future.

4. Organise Restorations and Repairs

Because commercial leases typically span several years, in most cases, there will be some work needed to get the property back to the condition in which it was at the start of the lease. It may be worth checking with the landlord before starting any repair work, since some commercial lease clauses can be vague as to what “good condition” or “in repair” means. You will also want to know if your lease is an eggshell tenancy (which means repairs should exclude structural elements) or if you have full repairs clauses in your contract.

In any case, it’s good practice to communicate with your landlord in advance, especially if they have a list of approved vendors and contractors, to ensure the work meets the required standards.

A man splattered with paint and plaster and held aloft by a rope harness performs restoration and repairs to the exterior of a commercial building.

5. Let Utility Providers Know, Update your Address

After dealing with the physical aspects of the property, it’s time to attend to utilities and address updates. Depending on your lease clauses, you don’t need to request a disconnection from services like electricity and water, and it will be enough to notify the supplier, so they can remove your name (and liability) from any subsequent bills.

If your Internet and telecom contract is still valid, make sure you switch it over to your new offices. A change of address notification should also be sent to any organizations that may contact you by mail, such as HMRC, Companies House, your banking institution, etc.

6. Inform your Staff and Customers

This may seem like an obvious step, but it requires more than just sending a notification of relocation. You’ll need to anticipate how the lease expiration date timing may affect customers, clients, and any projects that may be in progress for your business at the time. You’ll need to provide a clear timeline and specific instructions to staff and clients to minimise the impact on your workflows and business.

If you can’t reschedule meetings with suppliers or with the team, you may want to consider temporary arrangements like meeting rooms in business centres or coworking spaces to continue operations until a new lease is signed or until you’ve completed the move to new premises. For retail venues, you can redirect customers to your e-commerce shop and provide detailed directions to the new store as well as your move-in date if you’re relocating.

A smiling café owner behind the cash register notifies a woman and a man customer that her business is relocating.

7. Arrange for Equipment Removal

As you get closer to the end of commercial lease date, you’ll need to make an inventory of your existing equipment and decide what you’ll keep, so you can get an accurate removals quote. When your commercial lease expires, it’s worth considering selling unwanted equipment or sending it to companies that specialize in refurbishing and recycling.

8. Settle Outstanding Bills and Payments

After you conduct a final inspection of the premises with your landlord or their representative, you’ll want to ensure all outstanding bills and payments are paid. These typically include rent payments and utility bills, but don’t forget about building maintenance charges and other similar fees. Always request a final statement from your landlord and keep it for your records.

As your commercial lease expires, whether you choose to remain in the property with a new lease or move on, understanding your financial obligations and others under the Landlord and Tenant Act is paramount.

A man and a woman sit at the desk of their legal counsel as he takes them through stipulations in their commercial lease agreement contract.


Navigating the end of a commercial lease requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the checklist above, you can ensure a smooth and organized transition to new business premises, or a new lease at your current location, while minimizing potential issues or disputes.

Was this article useful to you? Do you have any comments you’d like to make when it comes to your experience of a commercial lease coming to an end in the UK? If so, get in touch with us via our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Additionally, take a look at our cost-effective flexible workspace options in Central London, Greater London, The North, and The South if you’re in the market for commercial property throughout the UK. If you’d like to speak to someone about your workspace enquiry, you can reach one of our commercial property experts by calling 020 3970 9731, and they’ll be happy to be of assistance.

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