How to find the right tenants for your commercial property

closeup of hands one person is giving a set of keys to someone else houses are in the backgroundWhile being a commercial property landlord is rewarding, it can also be a challenge to find the right tenants. Leasing a commercial property involves extra legal considerations and more complex references, and their ability to pay the rent is dependent on the success of their business. As your commercial tenant is likely to stay for a long time, you can prevent problems from occurring later by making sure they are the right fit for your property from the very beginning.

Do you need a letting agent?

Using a traditional letting agent to manage properties is still very popular for landlords who don’t have the time to handle regular upkeep, viewings and paperwork; however, for many property owners as well as tenants, going private is preferable. Aside from steep management fees charged by agents, there can also be costly extras added that you will not expect. Cutting out the middleman saves money and means you can choose the tenants yourself after meeting them in person. The downside is you will have to put in more time to manage the property.

Online letting agents are a good compromise for those who need help with contracts, referencing and advertising, but don’t want to pay high fees. With websites like OpenRent and Upad proving successful for renting private properties, there are now online agents providing services for commercial landlords as well. The benefit is that they often have packages that sort out referencing and deposits for a low flat fee, and then give you the options of extras like floorplans and professional photographs. Keep an eye on how many extra services you are paying for, though – the costs can add up, and you might be able to do much of it yourself.

Advertising your property

The first step to letting out your property is to advertise it, and the vast majority of commercial property adverts are on specialist websites.

  • Do your research. You should always know what other commercial properties are in the area and who occupies them. Speaking to nearby businesses might also generate leads.
  • Choose the right platform. There are many websites where you can put up commercial property listings, and if you’ve chosen to use an agent, these should be included. If you’ve decided to go private, consider that the largest property sites – such as Rightmove and Zoopla – will generate the most leads. Generic websites like Gumtree have a tendency to attract lower quality leads.
  • Consider your audience – and by audience, we mean tenants. You should have a clear idea of who can make use of your property and what their specific needs will be. Commercial properties vary a lot in size and quality, so show your beneficial features up front to attract interest.
  • Create a descriptive advert. Don’t be tempted to skip photos and pertinent details. Anyone viewing your advert will be suspicious that you have something to hide if you only show a couple of photos – or worse, none at all. Good-quality images can be used for years to come, so if you are not an experienced photographer, hire a professional and think of it as a long-term investment.

Select your viewings

A good advert can attract several hundred phone calls or email enquiries so take this opportunity to screen through the prospects. Good questions to ask include:

  • Where is their current commercial tenancy?
  • Why are they moving and when?
  • Whether they will need to make changes to the property
  • How many employees they have, or how many people will be working there
  • References

Any potential tenant who is genuinely interested will be happy to talk at length about the above, and in particular, should not hesitate when you bring up the prospect of references. You should also get a clear idea of how successful their business is and what their cash flow is like. Having a direct conversation will help eliminate potential tenants who have something to hide.

Once you have found a suitable tenant, be prepared for lengthy discussions regarding the lease as well as further negotiations. Your commercial tenant should be staying for years to come, so you both want to make sure it’s a good partnership.

Romain Coleman – specialist landlord solicitors

Unlike many solicitors who deal with property law, Romain Coleman only represents landlords – never tenants. This means we are always on your side and have a great deal of experience with the issues and concerns that landlords may have, such as rent arrears, evictions, dilapidations and breaches of contract. If you need a London commercial property solicitor, Romain Coleman is here to help – so call us today on 0208 520 4555 or use our Online Form.