With the commercial property market moving forward and a record demand for industrial property across the region it is time to look at your property costs and overheads and consider best use of your commercial property and land assets.

Could your property be converted using permitted development rights to alternative uses including residential – a market where developers and builders are now becoming very active and acquisitive for good opportunities and conversions. I refer to a number of recent headlines where former leisure properties and public houses are being acquired by developers and converted to retail or other uses where planning permission is allowed.

If you are on a lease is it time also to look at the terms of your lease and what rent you are paying and upon what terms, perhaps time to renegotiate – don’t let the market overtake you.

Another area to look at is Business Rates liability – are you paying too much and are you getting the financial relief you are entitled too. There are possibly urgent ramifications with the news of the impending changes in how your rateable value can be appealed. The basis of your rates liability comes from the 2010 rating list which was originally scheduled to be replaced in 2015 and owners/occupiers could have lodged an appeal at any time while the list existed. 

However, the Government has announced that a replacement list would not be produced until 2017 and before Christmas the Valuation Office announced that any appeals submitted after 1 April 2015 would only be backdated to that date, this has now been confirmed.  Effectively the Government is saying occupiers had five years to make an appeal, which would have been backdated potentially five years if successful, and if they did not lodge the appeal within that timescale they cannot expect to benefit by submitting appeals after the original intended deadline. This is a firm warning to owner occupiers in that they have only 6 weeks to lodge appeals against the 2010 rating list if they want them backdated to 1st April 2010 or the date when the property was first occupied.

We are now seeing sustained levels of interest in the sale of freehold property and over the last 10 days have agreed further sales and lettings in our area signifying, we believe, a continued level of confidence with new businesses forming and companies expanding. This has been supported by the latest Bank of England Inflation Report where they comment “CPI inflation was 0.5% in December 2014, well below the 2% target. The main reason for this was the steep fall in wholesale energy prices during the second half of last year. Inflation is likely to fall further in the near term, and could temporarily turn negative, as falls in energy prices continue to be passed through. Inflation is likely to rebound around the turn of the year as these effects drop out of the annual rate.”

With a general election within three months this would normally create a level of uncertainty but businesses seem unruffled by the prospect, despite the current high profile debate around businesses’ confidence in political parties. Business optimism and output still remain high despite the most unpredictable election in a generation.

So with this confidence consider your commercial property assets we are undertaking a number of “health checks” on property assets upon behalf of Clients and uncovering some interesting and positive results … so don’t get left behind.

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