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New landlords lease code will create fairer occupancy conditions for high street businesses, say property managers

Commercial property managers have welcomed the findings of a new Review which calls for action to discourage landlords from leaving high street business premises empty.

Mary Portas’s review aims to revitalise the high street by delivering a series of recommendations on how local communities, businesses and the Government can reverse the decline in economic prosperity. It follows data published earlier this year which showed town centre vacancy rates had doubled in the space of two years.

Among a series of proposals, the Review calls for landlords to take greater responsibility for the success of their high street property investment and recommends a contract of care is established between landlords and their commercial property tenants. Each contractual arrangement should suit the circumstances of both the landlord and tenant, it adds, and support the use of lease structures other than upward-only rent reviews – especially for small businesses…

The Review recommends further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant and says banks which leave commercial property empty on the high street should either administer these assets or be required to sell them.

In addition, is says local authorities should make proactive use of Compulsory Purchase powers to enforce the purchase of property from a private owner to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space and step in when landlords are negligent with new “Empty Shop Management Orders”.

As well as looking at how the business rate system could better support small businesses and independent retailers, the Review recommends the introduction of a public register of high street landlords.

Commenting on the findings of the Review, Peter Knight, managing director of Manchester-based property and construction management company Knight Site Solutions Ltd, said: “These recommendations are welcome news for those businesses looking for commercial property in the high street. Not only will it widen the choice available, landlords will have a greater responsibility to support their commercial tenant and help make the business a success. This new guidance will hopefully make it much more affordable for small businesses to operate from the high street and revitalise tired town centres for the benefit of the whole community.”

Property Aspects Magazine appreciates the contribution to this article from Property sourcing and management specialists Knight Site Solutions in Manchester