What is commercial conveyancing?

Whether you are buying or selling commercial property, creating a new lease or transferring an existing lease, our nationwide network of expert law firms will carry out all the necessary legal work efficiently and in your best interests.

Commercial conveyancing is the name given to the process used to transfer legal ownership or occupying (leasehold) of land, buildings or property used for business purposes. 

It is similar to residential conveyancing because it involves transferring the legal title, but it is also different because it refers to business operations. 

The process also takes longer to complete because the legal investigations are more extensive and complex. 

As with residential conveyancing, a solicitor or licensed conveyancer is the person who carries out the work required to transfer legal ownership. Commercial property refers to the likes of retail, restaurants and bars, leisure, offices and warehouses, industrial sites and land for development. Commercial property conveyancing is more complicated than residential conveyancing because many are occupied by tenants who lease the property.

The commercial conveyancing process follows a broadly similar path to that of residential conveyancing because each has the same goal: to transfer the legal title from one person or business to another. 

However, commercial conveyancing is more complex and time-consuming because of the legalities involved, often concerning leases and tenancies that have to be factored in. 

This means it's imperative that anyone buying or selling commercial property should engage a specialist commercial conveyancing solicitor with experience in commercial conveyancing. 

A commercial transaction will also take longer than a residential one because of complexities such as leaseholders and businesses in residency being sold as a “going concern”. 

As a rule of thumb, expect that the larger and more expensive the property, the more complex and lengthier the commercial conveyancing process.

You can use our online calculator to get an instant quote that will give you an idea of your fixed legal fee** conveyancing costs. You can also talk to Homeward Legal on . We're open six days a week.

Commercial conveyancing for buyers will naturally start with finding a property that you want to make an offer on. Once the buyer and the seller have agreed on a price, the conveyancing solicitors on either side will get to work on completing the sale.

On the buyer's side, the solicitor will:

  • Investigate the title (who legally owns the property)
  • Instruct commercial property searches that build a picture of the property and its surrounds
  • Negotiate the contract with the seller's solicitor
  • Make any enquiries arising from the CPSEs
  • Ensure all finance is in place and deal with any lender involved in the transaction
  • Exchange contracts with the seller's solicitor, transfer the funds on completion day and arrange for keys to be collected
  • Pay any outstanding Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC within 14 days
  • Register the property's new owner with the Land Registry

Interested in buying commercial properties? Talk to Homeward Legal now on to get the best conveyancing deal for you.

Commercial conveyancing for sellers starts when the property owner decides to put the premises on the market. 

The seller's solicitor will:

  • Ask the seller to complete pre-contract forms known as Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSEs)
  • Draw up the sale contract and let the buyer's conveyancing solicitor know what is included in the sale, including fixtures and fittings
  • Negotiate the price and completion date with the buyer's solicitor
  • Approve the Transfer Deed from the buyer's solicitor
  • Agree on the exchange of contracts and arrange for keys to be collected
  • Pay off any outstanding mortgage once the sale is complete, deduce their fees and transfer the remaining funds to the seller

Commercial property is divided into several different categories. These include the likes of:

  • Retail, such as shops, malls and supermarkets; 
  • Offices; leisure, including bars, restaurants and hotels;
  • Industrial, such as warehouses and industrial estates. 

Most commercial conveyancing transactions involve lease agreements. These are properties where a tenant (lessee) leases some or all of the property or land from the owner (landlord or lessor) for a specific period of time.

A lease is a legal agreement, giving the commercial tenant exclusive right to occupy the property for the term of the lease. Commercial property conveyancing may include creating a new lease, negotiating new terms on a lease or transferring the lease from one person or business to another.

Commercial conveyancing fees will vary depending on the cost of the property involved and the complexity of the transaction; for example, whether a property is leasehold or freehold. 

Legal fees - the cost of paying for commercial conveyancing solicitors - are the biggest element of the overall cost of a commercial conveyancing transaction. At Homeward Legal, we offer a no-obligation quote from trusted and experienced commercial conveyancing experts that includes fixed legal fees**. That ensures the quote you receive for legal fees is exactly what you pay, with no hidden costs. 

Based on the information you give us, we will also outline the expected disbursements*, charges and fees that must be paid to your solicitor on top of their legal services.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Land Registry fees
  • Telegraphic Transfer fee (for banks)
  • Property searches
  • ID and bankruptcy search
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • VAT

Each conveyancing transaction is unique. As your transaction proceeds, there may be other non-standard fees incurred to ensure the sale or purchase goes through. However, your solicitor will keep you fully informed of any additional costs that arise.

There's a lot involved in ensuring commercial property conveyancing is completed successfully. Talk directly to our experienced team on to learn how you can stay fully informed and in control of your transaction.

Get in touch with us for your commercial conveyancing needs

Whether you're looking to buy or sell your property, get in touch with the team today about our residential conveyancing services.

Alternatively, you can always give us a ring on  or request a callback and we'll be happy to speak to you.

Frequently asked questions...

At Homeward Legal, we work with expert property law firms across England and Wales who have vast experience in commercial property conveyancing. Our partner firms can help with sale or purchase conveyancing, drawing up new leases and help to transfer existing leases. They will offer expert legal advice and support to all commercial clients in every transaction. 

Get a no-obligation quote online now or call our team on to find out more about what we can offer in commercial property conveyancing.

Similar to residential freehold, a freehold commercial property means the title (ownership) of the property and land belongs to the freeholder (owner). Leasehold is an interest in the land or property created by a lease. The leaseholder is a tenant who pays rent and has the right to occupy the land or property for a fixed period. Many commercial properties are occupied by tenants with a lease, meaning anyone buying or selling that property must take account of the leaseholders’ rights.

On top of the legal costs of conveyancing, there are a number of other commercial conveyancing fees to consider when purchasing business-related property. Anyone buying commercial property can also expect to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on the transaction. There might also be fees for any building survey you might instruct. Buyers can also expect to pay for property searches, bankruptcy search fees, Telegraphic Transfer fees (bank) and Land Registry fees. The property searches might include a local authority search, drainage and water, environmental, HS2 and mining. Commercial property searches are more expensive than their residential equivalent. When you get a no-obligation quote from Homeward Legal for commercial conveyancing, we will detail the cost of all searches and additional charges that you might expect to pay, giving you full information on the expected total cost of your transaction.

Yes, you should always take professional advice on leases. Leases are a complicated area of the law, and any change to the condition of one could have expensive consequences if not done properly. Specialist commercial conveyancing solicitors can help negotiate new terms correctly, ensuring your interests and those of the lessees are protected. You can get a no-obligation quote from Homeward Legal for creating new leases and transferring a lease, ensuring you have an expert professional by your side.

Instructing a building survey when buying commercial property will give you peace of mind that the property is worth what you are paying. A survey carried out by a RICS chartered surveyor will give you an expert opinion on the condition of a property and identify any structural or other issues. Talk to your commercial conveyancing solicitor about your building survey options.

Depending on the value of the commercial property or land you are buying, you may be liable for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This is a land levy payable to HMRC on completion of a purchase transaction. SDLT is paid on a sliding scale depending on the value of the property. For example, all transactions up to a value of £150,000 in England are exempt from SDLT. For transactions between £150,001 and £250,000, purchasers will pay 2 percent of the purchase price in SDLT. Your conveyancing solicitor must file a return for SDLT with HMRC within 14 days of completion. You can find out more about SDLT rates here.

In the commercial property market, purchasing a commercial unit with tenants in place is referred to as “in situ”. Where the property is known to be leasehold, your conveyancing solicitor will receive details of any tenancies from the seller’s solicitors. The tenants’ lease agreement with the previous owner remains in place until a new agreement is drawn up with the new owner. Where the property is freehold, your solicitor should check at the Land Registry for any registerable leases. These are leases that run for more than seven years. Short leases that run for less than seven years are not registerable and will not be included on the Land Registry charges register.

Anyone selling commercial property will be asked to complete a set of Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSEs), which are a standard part of pre-contract conveyancing. These comprehensive enquiries were introduced in 2002 to help speed up commercial conveyancing. The information contained in the CPSEs will allow the buyer to make an informed decision about the property’s value. The seller does not have to complete the CPSEs, but where they are completed, the seller has a legal duty to answer truthfully and accurately in replies and not misrepresent the property. The seller must also disclose any latent defects affecting the property.

In commercial conveyancing, the use of a property for specific business purposes and zoning restrictions are critical considerations:

 Intended Business Use: The use of a commercial property is often governed by its permitted use class. Different classes define what activities can be conducted on the premises. Before purchasing, it's crucial to ensure that the property aligns with the intended business activities to avoid potential legal issues. 

Zoning Restrictions: Zoning regulations set out by local planning authorities determine how land and buildings can be used. These restrictions outline permissible uses, density, building size, and other considerations. Zoning laws vary by location and can significantly impact the intended use of a commercial property. 

Change of Use: Changing the use of a property might require planning permission or approval from the local authority. Certain changes from one use class to another might necessitate formal applications and compliance with zoning regulations. 

Special Considerations: Some properties might have specific restrictions or covenants that limit their use, imposed by previous owners, local authorities, or planning permissions. It's crucial to review these restrictions before purchasing a commercial property. 

Engaging a solicitor or conveyancer with expertise in commercial property law is essential. They can assess zoning restrictions, review property use classes, and ensure that the intended business activities align with local regulations and any restrictions or covenants associated with the property. This helps avoid legal complications and ensures the property is suitable for the intended commercial purposes.

In commercial conveyancing, when leasing a property, the terms, renewal options, and responsibilities can vary significantly based on the lease agreement negotiated between the landlord and tenant. 

Lease Terms: These specify the duration of the lease (e.g., typically 5, 10, or 15 years), rent amount, payment frequency, rent reviews, and any specific clauses agreed upon by both parties.

Renewal Options: The lease might include clauses outlining renewal options, allowing the tenant to extend the lease at the end of the term. These options often come with conditions and notice periods.

Responsibilities: The lease delineates responsibilities for both the landlord and tenant. It typically covers maintenance, repairs, insurance, utilities, and sometimes service charges or property taxes. 

Break Clause: Some leases might include a break clause, permitting the tenant or landlord to terminate the lease earlier than the agreed term. This clause usually has specific conditions and notice periods. 

Alterations and Repairs: The lease might specify rules regarding alterations to the property and who bears responsibility for repairs and maintenance. 

It's essential for both parties to carefully review and understand the lease terms, including renewal options, responsibilities, and any specific clauses or conditions before signing. Seeking legal advice is advisable to ensure a clear understanding of the lease terms and rights and obligations for both the landlord and tenant.

Legal issues related to property title, easements, and rights of way can significantly impact a commercial transaction. These issues may include: 

  • Title Defects: Problems with property ownership records, unresolved liens, or undisclosed interests affecting the title's validity. 
  • Easements: Unregistered or undisclosed rights allowing others to use the property (e.g., access or utility rights) that may impact its use. 
  • Rights of Way: Restrictions or disputes regarding access to or from the property, affecting its usability or neighboring properties' access. 
  • Restrictive Covenants: Limitations imposed by previous owners affecting property use or alterations. 
  • Boundary Disputes: Conflicts or uncertainties about property boundaries, potentially leading to legal issues with neighboring properties. 
  • Encroachments: Unauthorized structures or developments infringing on property boundaries or rights.

Environmental searches are not legally mandatory for commercial conveyancing. However, they are highly recommended. Conducting environmental searches helps identify potential environmental risks like contamination, flood susceptibility or liabilities associated with the property, allowing buyers or tenants to make informed decisions. While not mandatory, these searches provide valuable information that can significantly impact the property's suitability for business purposes and help mitigate potential future issues or liabilities.

Your Fixed Legal Fee** quote from Homeward Legal ensures that you pay no more than we have quoted you for and is based on the information you’ve provided to us being true and accurate.

There are specific circumstances on a minority of transactions that may require additional charges that could not be foreseen at the outset.

A list of those charges and explanations can be found here with details of the potential cost. These will only be charged following discussion with your conveyancer with a clear explanation of what they are for.

No Completion No Fee is our promise that in the unfortunate event that your property transaction falls-through you will not be liable for any of the conveyancer’s fixed legal fees for the work completed.

To secure this benefit a fee, already included in your quote, is taken upon on deciding to go ahead with your transaction.

Should your transaction fall through, for whatever reason, we can hold this amount on account for your next transaction or provide a refund.

Disbursements* are costs or expenses that may be incurred as part of your conveyancing transaction which are paid to a third party by your conveyancer, on your behalf.

They will vary depending on your requirements and can include Land Registry fees and banking charges. We've quoted for Disbursements based on the information you've provided, and they will be charged with no additional fees or surcharges.

Occasionally additional disbursements are required to progress a transaction and will only be charged following a discussion with your conveyancer.

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