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How do I get out of my business lease early?

Legal Review with Coffin Mew

How do I get out of my business lease early?

Nick Leavey

This is a question the European Medicines Agency is asking the court, as it looks to move from its London offices to Amsterdam after Brexit, as its lease does not contain a break clause and it may therefore be stuck with its lease and a rent bill of around £500m.

Business tenants look to get out of their leases for a variety of reasons. For example, where business is booming and they need more space, or where things are not going so well and they need less, or where changes in their markets mean that they need to relocate elsewhere, or where technology means that they need a different type of premises.

Would-be business tenants should consider this before they enter into their leases, at which point they can negotiate
appropriate terms into them.

Ideally, the tenant will have negotiated a break clause into their lease.

Break clauses can vary: some can only be exercised on a fixed date, others on a series of dates; most require a period of written notice to be given; many will only be effective where conditions have been satisfied – for example all rent must have been paid up to date.

Where there is no break option, if their lease allows, a tenant may look to assign, or transfer, their lease to a new tenant or to underlet the premises to an undertenant.

However, these options usually require landlord’s consent and satisfaction of other conditions, and they usually do not let the original tenant completely off the hook.

If these and all else fails, it may be possible to negotiate a surrender of the lease to the landlord; however, the landlord may want their pound of flesh to accept the premises back, in the form of a “reverse premium”.

If you would like any further advice on business leases or other commercial property matters, please get in touch with a member of our Coffin Mew team by emailing

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