Within this section we aim to answer some of the most common questions we’ve come across and provide definitions of building related terminology.


Local Authority
Local authority is the collective term for local councils. You may also sometimes hear them referred to as local government. Local councils are made up of councillors (members) who are voted for by the public in local elections and paid council staff (officers) who deliver services.
Planning Permission or Planning Consent
The permission required in the United Kingdom and Ireland in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings. Within the UK the occupier of any land or building will need title to that land or building (i.e. “ownership”), but will also need “planning title” or planning permission. Planning title was granted for all pre-existing uses and buildings by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, which came into effect on 1 July 1948. Since that date any new “development” has required planning permission. “Development” as defined by law consists of any building, engineering or mining operation, or the making of a material change of use in any land or building. Certain types of operation such as routine maintenance of an existing building are specifically excluded from the definition of development. Specified categories of minor or insignificant development are granted an automatic planning permission by law, and therefore do not require any application for planning permission. These categories are referred to as permitted development.
Building Regulations

Are statutory instruments that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out. Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. Building regulations that apply across England and Wales are set out in the Building Act 1984 while those that apply across Scotland are set out in the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. The Act in England and Wales permits detailed regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. The regulations made under the Act have been periodically updated, rewritten or consolidated, with the latest and current version being the Building Regulations 2010. The UK Government is responsible for the relevant legislation and administration in England, the Welsh Government is the responsible body in Wales, the Scottish Government is responsible for the issue in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Executive has responsibility within its jurisdiction.

The detailed requirements of Building regulations in England and Wales are scheduled within 14 separate headings, each designated by a letter (“Part A” to “Part Q”), and covering aspects such as “structure”, “fire safety”, “access”, “electrical”, “protection from falling”, “drainage”, and so on. For each Part, detailed specifications are available free online (“approved documents”) describing the matters to be taken into account. The approved documents are not legally binding; rather, they present the expectation of the Secretary of State concerning the standards required for compliance with the Building Regulations, and the standard methods used to achieve these.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Introduced a procedure for resolving disputes between owners of neighbouring properties, arising as a result of one owner’s intention to carry out works which would affect the party wall, involve the construction of a party wall or boundary wall at or adjacent the line of junction between the two properties or excavation within certain distances of a neighbour’s structure and to a lower depth than its foundations.

Pre-Acquisition Survey / Building Survey

The pre-acquisition survey includes detailed analysis of the existing building structure and condition along with possibly the Mechanical and Electrical installation. It identifies any defects present, including any future maintenance requirements along with associated budget costs, it will also comment on the legislative compliance issues that affect users, owners and occupiers.

The pre-acquisition survey is recommended when considering the acquisition of a commercial premises whether by purchase or lease. A pre-acquisition survey is essential to provide a detailed understanding of the existing condition of the property, its suitability for a particular use and any associated future liabilities.

We have extensive experience of undertaking pre-acquisition surveys for a wide variety of properties, local, nationwide and internationally. We produce tailor made service delivery and will ensure that the report is prepared to suit your specific requirements.

A pre-acquisition survey enables you to make informed decisions about the proposed premises and its investment potential. The outcome of the acquisition survey will help decide whether not to go ahead with a purchase or lease and it may influence negotiations regarding price. It is also highly likely to prevent any unforeseen and serious cost implications in the future. The pre-acquisition survey forms the basis for any future planned maintenance works required at the property following the purchase or lease. We are able to provide further services in relation to this, through to completion.

Read more on how we helped Emmaus with their pre-acquisition.


Why is having a Schedule of Conditions necessary?

Without having a Schedule of Condition the tenant may find themselves in financial difficulty at the end of the term of the lease and if the lease requires them to ‘put’ and ‘keep’ the premises in ‘good and substantial repair’.

If you are thinking about taking on a lease for commercial, retail or private premises, it is usual under the terms of the lease for the tenant to have repairing obligations. However, you should ensure that you are fully aware of the extent of your repairing obligations and where possible, seek to limit them with reference to the Schedule of Condition of the property when you take the lease.

Below set out some useful guidelines for you to consider when entering into your commercial lease.

What is a Schedule of Condition?
A Schedule of Condition acts as written and or photographic evidence of the state of the property at the time the lease is granted. It will consist of a list of photographs and additional descriptions of the property and is appended to the signed lease.
How will a Schedule of Condition protect the Tentant?
The effect of having a Schedule of Condition in the lease is that the tenant is not expected to put the property in any better state of condition of repair that it was at the start of the lease. Therefore, a Schedule of Condition sets a benchmark against which the property can be assessed in the future.
The tenant should ideally instruct a Chartered Surveyor to produce a Schedule of Condition but it is important that any photographs are of good quality and in full colour. What is the impact of a Schedule of Condition in the repairing covenant in the lease? It is important to limit the wording of the tenant’s repairing obligations in the lease by referring to the Schedule of Condition so that the tenant does not have to keep the property in any better state of repair, condition and decoration than evidenced by the schedule.
Often leases include an obligation to ‘put and keep’ the premises in repair. However, the effect of a ‘put and keep’ obligation can be to require a tenant to improve the premises. Therefore, faced with this potential onerous liability to improve the premises, the tenant may negotiate a less onerous repairing covenant (referring to the Schedule of Condition) which would then exclude any obligation to improve the premises.
Such proviso to the repairing covenant could potentially read as follows: ‘… providing that the Tenant is not obliged to put or keep the Premises in any better state or condition than at the date of this Lease, as evidenced by the Schedule of Condition’
When is a Schedule of Condition essential?

We would recommend that where the tenant is proposing to take a lease of a property which is in poor condition or where the repairing covenant is onerous, serious consideration should be given to limiting the repairing liability by reference to a Schedule of Condition to ensure the tenant is not liable to remedy repairs caused by a previous tenant.

Read More

Read more on how we helped Grill Shack with their Schedule of Conditions