Bulletins

What the estate agents might not tell you when buying or relocating your pharmacy premises

October 10, 2016

We support pharmacists when buying or relocating their pharmacy property.

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1. Can you use the premises as a pharmacy?

It sounds obvious but you need to check the title doesn’t contain covenants preventing its use as a pharmacy. If so, you may be able to challenge this or obtain indemnity insurance but each case is different and therefore legal advice would be required.

2. Do your homework!

Due diligence should always be carried out to find out what rights and restrictions affect the property and to confirm that the property complies with current legislation.  

3. Do I need to pay for searches?

Searches will determine if there is anything that may affect the property e.g. parking restrictions or a one way system that could affect footfall or any planning applications for nearby property that could compete with yours.

4. Do I have planning permission?

We advise pharmacists to ensure the property has the benefit of planning permission for its intended use and for any signage at the property that may be required.

If not, consider if your agreement to take on the property should be conditional on planning permission being obtained.  Whether the use permitted is a retail pharmacy within Class A1 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 or a medical care provider within Class D1 will depend on factors such as its location, whether it is retail or dispensing or both.

5. Are you borrowing money?

If you are leasing the property, make sure that the lease allows charges such as a mortgage or any other business loan to be registered against it and that, if required, the landlord provides their consent to do so.

6. Can you relocate?

If your pharmacy business is linked to a doctor’s surgery or medical health centre and you currently rent the property, check whether there are any relocation provisions. These vary from lease to lease.

7. What are your repairing obligations?

Ensure you check any repairing obligations carefully. You may have to upgrade the property immediately, which could be expensive.  If you are entering a new lease consider if this could be limited to an agreed schedule of condition.

8. How long is the lease?

Consider whether the lease has or should have a break clause and what the assignment or underletting provisions say. 

Assignment or underletting may enable you to transfer or underlet the lease if you no longer need it but there are likely to be conditions attached to this, including the provision of the landlord’s consent. If the pharmacy has a flat above it you should make sure you can rent the flat out without the need for the landlord’s consent.

9. Who insures the property?

Usually the Landlord will insure the property and you will have to reimburse the Landlord for this, so check how much it is.

 (Remember, you usually have to insure the plate glass window in the pharmacy.)

10. How much will it cost?

Rent reviews only increase, even if market rents come down.  If taking on an existing lease ensure there are no outstanding rent reviews and if there are, ask the Landlord to settle these before you take on the lease.  If you are entering a new lease then negotiate as few rent reviews as possible.

11. Have you got the necessary consents?

A new pharmacy will require a NHS contract and if relocating then the current contract will need to be transferred. Obtaining this can take some time. Ensure you get this before you commit to take on the property or consider if the agreement to take on the property should be condition on this being obtained.  

12. Get the right advice:

Seeking advice from a solicitor specialising in pharmacies can avoid expensive mistakes being made and save you time and cost in the long run.

As pharmacy specialists, we can provide you with advice on all aspects of your pharmacy relocation.

We offer commercial, cost-effective advice, delivered in plain English. If you have any questions on the above or are planning to open or relocate your pharmacy business please contact us.

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