Greater transparency of rent agreements in place between businesses and landlords in west London would help create a level playing field, the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) has argued.
Having carried out a survey of small businesses across west London, the FSB believes there is a need for a shared database where landlords and prospective tenants can mutually update details to bring transparency to the market.
Whilst the survey revealed that 55% of west London small businesses have positive relationships with landlords, eight in 10 businesses expect to see an increase in their commercial rent; and 25% do not expect to be in the same property in the next five years.
The FSB argues that the creation of a shared open digital database of rents and service charges across London, which should be endorsed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, would move to improve transparency around rent and commercial space costs.
What would the database do?
- Create more of a level playing field between tenants and landlords
- Minimise the advent of unscrupulous rent hikes - 'if all the neighbouring businesses are paying X, why should I pay Y?'
- Allow independent businesses to assess the sustainability of setting up operations in desired locations
- Better understand the deals which certain businesses have made with landlords (such as ‘rent free’ periods or discounts) – this explains why certain rents might seem higher. The ‘deal’ needs to be understood before setting a rent precedent for all the surrounding occupiers.
A transparent and ‘fully populated’ database would benefit small businesses looking to renegotiate their commercial terms.
We want small businesses to have the confidence to negotiate competitive terms within their area.
We are seeing a worrying number of small firms in trendy – but now gentrified – pockets of London receiving tough rental and lease conditions. West London must remain fertile areas for start-ups and established businesses.
This was never intended to be a survey to name and shame Landlords as there are a vast amount who are serving their businesses very well, however we want the shared database to become the panacea for all.
For more information on the survey, visit the FSB London website.