A property dispute can be one of the most difficult parts of commercial property management. So, it’s important to be clued up on the best ways to avoid them, right here…
Disputes and disagreements are never easy to deal with and, when property is involved, matters can escalate to unmanageable conflicts.
When it comes to commercial property in particular – be it a shop floor, an office space, or a warehouse – the stakes to keep your tenants around for the long haul are even higher.
If you’re a commercial landlord, you’ll know all too well that keeping your tenants happy is one of the keys to making sure that your operation runs as smoothly as possible.
Commercial property disputes can be incredibly damaging, so avoiding this at all costs will be equally beneficial for both parties.
So, how can you avoid a property dispute from happening in the first place?
Read on to discover some top tips you can follow to make your commercial property irresistible to your tenants.
What is a Property Dispute?
Put simply, a property dispute is a legal dispute which involves real estate. While that is a useful definition to fall back on, it doesn’t quite cover the breadth of possible disputes that can occur for all manner of property – not least commercial property. If you are a commercial landlord, property disputes could be related to:
- Rent payments;
- Building maintenance;
- Lease renewals;
- Or forfeiture claims.
All of the above, as you’ll know, can be tricky subjects to navigate if you want to make sure that your tenants remain in the building. After all, your commercial tenants help to keep the building running.
Keeping the same commercial tenants around is the perfect way to save you time, money and grief. With a permanent leaseholder, who knows the ins and outs of the building maintenance, you can keep things simple for longer.
How Would You Fall into a Commercial Property Dispute?
As you can imagine – or already know – property disputes are time-consuming, costly and, in some cases, can prove to be incredibly damaging for commercial landlords who don’t fulfil their legal obligations. So, why exactly might you and your commercial tenant fall into a dispute?
There are a number of potential reasons that could result in a property dispute arising between commercial landlords and tenants – many of which are pretty easy to avoid with a bit of foresight. You may be forced into a property dispute if:
- There are disagreements over the terms of a property contract;
- The building is not being properly maintained;
- There are health and safety risks;
- Or certain regulations have been overlooked.
Because of this, there’s a lot to consider, so it’s important to be vigilant at all times. That being said, as a commercial landlord, there is only so much you can control. There may be certain situations where you feel it is necessary to engage in a dispute with a tenant who is not holding up their end of the agreement.
How is a Property Dispute Resolved?
In many cases, property disputes can be resolved with some sensible negotiation on both sides. It’s surprising how many disputes can be sorted through clear communication!
If a dispute can’t be resolved this way, this is where things can become a little more complicated (and costly). At this point, both parties may appoint a solicitor to represent them, who themselves will try to resolve the matter using alternative methods to court proceedings.
If a resolution still can’t be sorted then the court will have the final say on the matter, declaring one way or another which party is in the wrong. Needless to say, this process is a drawn out and stressful one, so avoiding it is the best course of practice. And, don’t forget, if you can resolve a dispute before the idea of court action is even raised, there is a lot less risk involved. Losing out in court could deal you a financial blow that is incredibly difficult to come back from. Food for thought.
10 Ways You can Avoid a Property Dispute with Your Business Tenants
So, now you’re aware of what a property dispute is, and the ways you can fall into one, you’ll want to know how you can avoid a property dispute as swiftly and cost-effectively as possible. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting yourself out of a financial muddle.
Luckily for you, here is a useful list of tips which you can use to make sure your commercial tenants stay happy and, importantly, stay put.
1. Make Sure Your Terms Are Clear and in Writing
One of the most important ways you can avoid a commercial property dispute is to make sure that your terms and clear and in writing. Disputes can often arise because of a simple misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the lease itself. So, make sure that the commercial tenant is aware of what the lease involves, and what both parties should expect of the other to ensure that the landlord/tenant relationship is a fruitful one.
2. Communicate Clearly
On that note, communication is absolutely vital. If you need to make a tenant aware of anything relating to their occupancy, it pays to clearly communicate the situation so that everyone is on the same page and a dispute doesn’t arise.
As a landlord, you would want your tenants to be clear and concise with you, right? So, to keep the harmony, things have to work both ways.
3. Respond Quickly to Requests
It’s important that commercial tenants feel that their requests or enquiries are being heard and acted upon. Whether or not you feel it is appropriate to act on a certain request will be down to your jurisdiction, but it’s important that you at least acknowledge and make an attempt to negotiate with your tenants so that they can build up a level of trust. That way, they’re much more likely to remain in the property.
4. Undertake Regular Inspections
If you don’t regularly inspect your commercial property, how can you expect to know if it’s in good shape? Regular inspections will help you to address any potential issues before they affect your tenants and cause a property dispute. This may mean that you have to pay for external expertise on the more technical aspects of the property, but it pays to keep ahead of the curve.
5. Make Sure Health and Safety is a Priority
That goes hand in hand with the importance of adhering to health and safety standards. If your tenants don’t feel as though health and safety standards within the building are up to scratch, it’s unlikely they’ll want to stick around for too long. Again, this will mean that everything in the building will need to be checked on a regular basis and that any potential issues are flagged and immediately addressed.
6. Have a Regular Cleaning and Maintenance Schedule
Of course, you will expect your tenants to keep their parts of the building in good shape, but the communal areas of the building will need to be regularly cleaned and maintained. That will include keeping the floors and furnishing clean, as well as touching-up interior walls, replacing light fixtures, and keeping the bathrooms clean. It’s not fun, but it has to be done.
7. Ensure the Interiors are Tip Top
When leasing or renting any property, the interior is just as important as the size of the building, and the number of rooms. So, ensuring the walls are painted evenly in neutral colours, there is no damp, the carpets are maintained, and so on and so forth, is a huge bonus for any commercial property tenants. Not only does this keep tenants happy, but it avoids any health and safety disputes along the way.
8. Don’t Neglect the Exterior
Exterior maintenance is just as important as interior maintenance and, most of the time, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to make sure everything is in check. The exterior walls, foundations, roof, and outdoor space will all have to be looked at, so don’t be tempted to gloss over any of those details.
9. Take Immediate Action if Issues Arise
If you find that there are any issues when you carry out maintenance checks, taking action straight away is a no brainer. This means you can sort out any issues before your tenants raise those same issues themselves, so you don’t get blindsided.
10. Keep Up to Date with the Law
Know your rights and know your tenant’s rights. Keep up to date with the news and watch out for any changes to the law that might affect your standing with any of your tenants. That way, you’ll be able to reduce the chances of a property dispute way ahead of time.
Have You Found Yourself in a Commercial Property Dispute?
We all know that keeping everyone happy at all times is far from easy, but a little bit of forward planning can go a long way. So, if you keep those tips in mind, you won’t have to worry about dealing with a property dispute any time soon.
Have you ever been involved in a property dispute? It would be great to get a discussion going in the comments below so that we can share some more tips about how to keep your tenants happy!