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Heads of Terms: Leasing your next commercial property

Before you enter into a commercial lease, you should always agree Heads of Terms with your landlord. This will set out the key points of agreement before your formal lease is drawn up and might include rent, term, break clauses, and repairing obligations. Think of your Heads of Terms as a blueprint for your final lease agreement, providing a clear overview of the main terms to be included.

By agreeing on the fundamentals early on, Heads of Terms will help streamline your negotiations, minimising the potential for misunderstandings and disputes down the line.

What should you include in your Heads of Terms?

Defining the commercial property being leased is fundamental.  This includes outlining the specific premises, such as the address, floor area, and any additional facilities or common areas to be included.  By being detailed and specific in this aspect of the lease agreement, both the landlord and tenant can establish a solid foundation for a successful and mutually beneficial relationship.


How long do you want to commit for? Consider this aspect carefully to ensure the term aligns with your business needs, balancing flexibility with stability.


This is not just about what it will cost your business, but it will also include the payment terms. The rent amount and frequency (monthly/quarterly) should be clearly defined, including any rent reviews during the term.  You should also include the method of payment and the potential penalties for late payments. Get professional advice to ensure the terms are fair and favourable before finalising the lease.

Repairs and maintenance

  • Who is responsible for keeping the premises in good order?
  • Does the draft lease cover this?
  • Have you factored these costs into your business plan?

Ending your lease

Both parties may want to include a clause to allow them to walk away from the lease under certain circumstances before the term is up.  At termination, the obligations of the landlord and the tenant should be spelt out. Again, this is about providing clarity.

Negotiating your Heads of Terms

Several key parties may be involved in negotiating Heads of Terms: the landlord, represented by an agent or commercial property solicitor, and the tenant, again with representation by an agent or commercial property solicitor.  If a guarantor is involved, they might be involved too.

What to look out for

Several common issues may arise that can impact the process. These might include disagreements over rent amounts, lease terms and conditions, repairs and maintenance responsibilities, break clauses, and service charges. It is essential to address these issues promptly and effectively to ensure a smooth negotiation process and a successful outcome for all parties involved.

Where do you want to get to?

Embarking on a Heads of Terms lease negotiation for your commercial property requires finesse and strategy.

Begin by clearly defining your objectives and understanding the other party’s needs. Maintain open communication, be prepared to compromise, and prioritise building a positive relationship. Pay attention to detail, seek clarity on all terms, and document everything meticulously. Anticipate potential roadblocks and have creative solutions ready.

Remember, negotiation is a two-way street, so stay flexible and focused on achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.

Legal implications of your Heads of Terms

Although heads of terms are not usually intended to be legally binding, certain clauses within them may carry legal weight.  Carefully review the terms to determine which provisions are binding and which are merely a statement of intent.

Enforcing Heads of Terms

When it comes to the enforceability of heads of terms in the context of a lease, disputes can arise if the terms are not clearly defined or agreed upon.

While heads of terms are typically seen as non-binding, they can still hold weight in certain situations. It is essential to ensure that the terms are detailed and specific to avoid any misunderstandings or disagreements down the line. If a dispute does occur, parties may look to the heads of terms to determine the intent of the agreement.

Ultimately, the enforceability will depend on the specific circumstances and any subsequent formal lease agreements.

Ambiguity in Heads of Terms

A lack of clarity, with vague or ambiguous terms, can present risks. If the language used isn’t clear, the parties may misunderstand their obligations, which could lead to disputes and litigation in the future.

Clearly defining the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of each party will help mitigate these risks.

What are your next steps?

Heads of Terms in a commercial lease lay a crucial role in outlining the fundamental aspects of the lease, such as rent, lease term, and responsibilities of both parties.

Clear and comprehensive Heads of Terms can prevent misunderstandings and disputes down the line, providing a solid foundation for the ultimate lease agreement. By establishing Heads of Terms at the outset, parties can ensure a smoother negotiation process and reduce the likelihood of disagreements during the term of the lease.

For more information about this article or any other aspect of legal advice and commercial property, contact your Napthens Solicitors in Preston, Blackburn, Southport, and across the North West today.

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