Since the beginning of lockdown over two years ago, it goes without saying that the world of warehousing has become considerably more complex. Pressures including the rise of e-commerce, increased automation and the drive towards carbon net zero have changed the way warehouses operate, while massive take up, climbing demand for space and rapid growth has come to define the sector.

These changes have created a whole set of new requirements, both for occupiers and for landlords.

Therefore, UKWA has been working with legal partners Weightmans and real estate advisors Savills to develop an ‘out of the box’ form of lease with explanatory notes that provide a starting point for negotiating a lease contract in 2022, something which is arguably needed more than ever in these challenging times.

The new UKWA lease has been designed to provide a basis for a contract that is reasonable and fair from the point of view of both occupier and landlord. Commercial and financial drivers mean that each side has intrinsically competing interests, which is why landlords and occupiers are separately represented. However, as lawyers who routinely handle these affairs from both sides of the contractual fence, Weightmans have been able to bring to bear their considerable experience from across the divide over the many months it has taken to create this unique, comprehensive guide.

This is not simply a ‘fill in the blanks and print’ form, but a complete checklist and suggested drafting of the many factors to consider – including what’s ‘normal’ – when it comes to signing a lease. It is aligned with the RICS Lease Code and incorporates expert guidance from Savills in the form of explanatory notes around the commercial implications of the various requirements.

We believe this exclusive form of lease and explanatory note will provide valuable support to our members The UKWA Lease and notes will equip occupiers with valuable legal and commercial intelligence when negotiating their lease, allowing them to challenge clauses or requirements they see as outside of the ‘normal’. In addition, most warehouse operators have been reluctant to pass on the costs of the changes to their business over the last two years, so every penny counts and the potential savings on legal fees is an important bonus.

For Landlords too, the document could well be useful in persuading banks that certain over-restrictive clauses are unnecessary.

The UKWA Lease and explanatory notes are not intended to be a catch-all, of course. Contracts will necessarily vary from warehouse to warehouse and from landlord to landlord, therefore input from a solicitor will likely be required. However, in producing this document, UKWA has taken an important step towards supporting members in navigating the new environment in which we all operate.

Clare Bottle


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