Commercial property jargon buster

  • Author: Andy Hellier
  • Date: 3rd July 2020

Make sense of the commercial property sector with our handy list explaining some of the most commonly-used terms in the industry...


The act of buying or obtaining a property.


If alterations are listed within a lease contract, it is referring to how much the premises can be modified by a tenant, such as adding partition walls and redecorating. Tenants are usually required to return the premises to their original condition.


Alienation is the official term for the transfer of property and possession of lands, or other things, from one person to another. An alienation clause within a lease or licence refers to a tenant’s ability to sublet, assign or share occupation. 

Break clause

A term in a lease agreement that allows a lease to be cut short under certain circumstances. A break clause can be enforced by either the landlord or the tenant.

Building surveying

Building surveying involves assessing the quality of buildings, which can be either residential, public or commercial properties. Building surveyors examine the condition of buildings and advise what work should be done to improve them. 


Dilapidations are the associated potential costs that could be due to the landlord from a tenant at the end of the lease, to restore the property to its original pre-let condition.


Assisting owners/landlords in the selling and letting of properties.


An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rates how energy efficient a building is. It’s graded from A to G (with ‘A’ being the most efficient) and can indicate what your running costs will equate to. Commercial properties must have a rating of E or above to be fit for sale.


Incentives such as an initial rent-free period or a cash contribution to fit out the premises can be offered to potential tenants to encourage them to enter into a lease. 

Lease advisory

Lease advisory matters include rent reviews, lease renewals, the operation of break clauses, valuations, and the negotiation of lease surrenders and restructures. 

Lease renewal

The process when a tenant serves a request for a new lease to their landlord, anytime after their existing lease has expired.

Pre-acquisition survey

A survey undertaken by an investor to discover the lifecycle costs of the building they are interested in purchasing, to make them aware of any repairs and maintenance required prior to commitment.

Property management

Allowing a third party to manage your property for you - everything from tenant liaison and rent collection, to reactive and planned maintenance and insurance management.

Rateable value

Your business premises’ rateable value is calculated by the Valuation Office Agency, but this valuation may not always be accurate, so a commercial property consultant can help you challenge the valuation to get a fairer outcome.

Rent deposit 

A deposit held by a landlord as security when a tenant takes a lease on a property. This is often released by the landlord when certain financial targets are met by the tenant. 

Rent reviews

Rent reviews take place periodically to allow commercial rents to be adjusted to the current market level.

Service charge

Sometimes landlords need to charge an extra fee to cover the maintenance, repair and upkeep of the communal areas or facilities such as security, refuse collection and lift repairs.

Yielding up

“Yielding up” is the tenant’s obligation to return the property to its original condition at lease expiry.

Hellier Langston specialises in commercial agency, lease advisory, valuations, business rates, property management and building consultancy. Find out more about the services we offer and get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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