By Daniel Hunter

A free small business retail lease developed in collaboration with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today (Wednesday) been launched by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The lease, authored by Nick Darby, SNR Denton UK LLP, has been devised to simplify the often complex and time-consuming process associated with commercial property leases and should help attract new and independent retailers into vacant high street space.

British Retail Consortium Director of Business and Regulation, Tom Ironside, said: "It's great to be launching the small business lease on a day celebrating independent retail. The template lease will help the successful retailers of tomorrow take up their places in town centres across the country.

"The high street is a much-loved institution but it can be a tough place to trade, with property costs a significant challenge for all. Negotiating the complicated and costly process of getting the first lease for a shop is a sizeable hurdle which our lease removes. Shockingly, more than 11 per cent of town centre properties are currently standing vacant. As well as assisting individual retailers this new lease will make it quicker and easier to get those empty units back into use, preventing them acting as a drag on the performance of an entire area."

Paul Bagust, Associate Director, Professional Groups and Forums at RICS, said: "In simplifying the leasing process for landlords and small business tenants, we hope to support SMEs and provide a boost to the British high street in a time of decline — thereby contributing to overall UK economic productivity. Moreover, by offering mutually beneficial terms to landlords and tenants in a flexible lease, we are directly addressing the principles of the Code for Leasing Business Premises - identified in the Portas Review as a key tool in tackling the high street's decline."

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