Landlords prefer to maintain as much control as possible over their investment, and this can consequently lead to leases being drafted with a landlord bias. Of particular relevance in the case of retail leases is the clause dealing with a landlord’s right of entry onto premises for reasons such as examining the condition of the premises and taking schedules of fixtures and fittings, etc. This clause is often widely drafted in favour of the landlord and can lead to disruption to the operation of a retail tenant’s business.
It is essential to a retailer that it can trade continuously without unreasonable interference from a landlord or its employees or agents. With that in mind, it is important that retailers introduce protective conditions into retail leases.
A landlord should only be entitled to exercise a right of entry during the retailer’s usual working hours, and should always give reasonable prior written notice to the tenant. Different retailers often have particularly busy trading periods during the year and as such they should look to exclude landlords from exercising entry rights during these times.
Security can be a particular issue for retailers, and the lease, for example, should include provisos which ensure that landlords or their agents do not smoke on the premises, wear identity cards when on the premises and are appropriately dressed so as to be identifiable. Equally, such persons should be prepared to submit to random security checks from time to time. Wherever possible landlords should be under an obligation not to interfere with the retailer’s security systems.
The lease should also contain wording which provides that any entry onto the premises is carried out quickly and efficiently, and causes as little inconvenience as possible. Wherever any damage is caused either to the premises, to the landlord’s own fixtures and fittings, or to the retailer’s fittings or stock, the landlord should compensate for any damage caused as quickly as possible at its own expense.