The fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) has intensified in recent weeks, with the emergence of the new variant and the third national lockdown. However, there is good news on the horizon in the guise of the vaccination roll out.
Many GP practices have found themselves needing additional space at short notice, in order to hold vaccination clinics. Due to the urgency of the roll out, many GP practices are taking occupation of additional space without agreeing with the property owner the basis of such occupation.
However, it is likely such spaces will be needed for a number of months and so it is important that the terms of occupation and responsibilities of the GP practices in respect of such spaces are understood and ideally properly documented before GP practices take occupation of them.
We have set out below a shortlist of key things to consider when taking on additional space in a hurry:
What type of occupation arrangement is this? A lease, licence or tenancy at will? Different types of occupation can have a big impact on your rights as an occupier - for example, whether or not the property owner has the power to evict you without notice.
How long will the arrangement last and will it be renewable?
Will there be any rent or licence fee to pay? What about utilities and insurance - will these be a separate cost, or wrapped up in any licence fee? Has NHSE agreed to reimburse you these costs?
Do the premises have the appropriate planning designation for the proposed use, and are there any other use restrictions (for example, if the premises are leasehold, the lease is likely to contain restrictions on use/allowing third parties into occupation)?
What are your responsibilities as an occupier, and what are the property owner's responsibilities? For example, insurance, cleaning, security, internet access? What happens if something goes wrong and the premises are damaged, or access to utilities is cut off?
Do you and the property owner hold the appropriate premises and public liability insurance for the premises and the proposed use?
If the premises are in a shared use building, are you confident about the property owner's and other occupiers' infection control measures?
Do you have sufficient rights for staff and patients to use parking and access areas and/or access to washroom facilities?
These are just a few of the sort of matters you may want to think about before going into occupation. The best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page is to ensure that you occupy under a clear occupation document. It needn't be complex or lengthy, but clarity is the key, as disputes often arise down the line where two parties had opposite assumptions about how something would function.
We are currently helping many of our clients to document occupation arrangements for vaccination clinics at short notice. Please contact Rebecca Beardsley in our Healthcare team on 0117 314 5325 if you have any questions, or would like any assistance. Alternatively, complete the form below.