As we continue to monitor the ever-changing situation regarding COVID-19, we wanted to reiterate to you that, although our physical offices are temporarily closed, our teams are still working and can be contacted on their normal phone numbers.

The government continues to issue updated advice and guidance, and we are reviewing this as and when it changes. Below, we have looked at the likely impacts that Coronavirus will have on various aspects of the market.

If you would like any help in understanding how these affect you, or specific advice as to actions you should be taking, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

A current view of the commercial property market

Our research team have published a detailed Commercial Market Outlook that is being continually reviewed and updated with our latest insights. To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

The serviced office sector has grown relentlessly in recent years. Whilst initially focussed on central London, it has increasingly rippled out to office markets across the UK. Yet, there are key considerations around how vulnerable the sector is in the turmoil created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our research team have published a detailed piece addressing key questions, including the sectors immediate and longer-term prospects, risks for landlords, and how the serviced office market’s fortunes may impact the wider market.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Q1 2020 has been an unprecedented time for the UK office market, as well as the wider global property landscape.

Our research experts have produced two easily digestible thought pieces, to reflect on the past months. Both are considered in context of our core commercial markets outside of London - Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, and Oxford - where our property professionals have the in-depth local knowledge to assess key contributors of change.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

The COVID-19 crisis is challenging long-held views on what we use offices for, how we use them, and indeed whether we need them at all.

Our research experts, along with our office-focussed professionals, have considered 10 reasons why offices are not a thing of the past, and 10 ways in which they will change because of the crisis.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

While recognising the importance to maintain social distancing, the Government is now actively encouraging the development market to re-open construction sites and the industry is reacting, with positive steps already taken to re-commence work on many sites across the country.

Our research experts, collaborating with our building consultancy professionals, have produced a short video outlining how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact on the construction industry going forward.

To view this video please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Local authority investment in commercial property is under threat on two fronts. The Treasury is consulting on restricting the use of Public Works Loan Board lending for commercial investment; and a Private Members Bill is also making its way through Parliament which could severely limit the ability of local authorities to invest in commercial property.

At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis is fuelling concerns about loss of rental income and falling capital values.

Against this backdrop, we look at how councils should respond.

To view this report please 
click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused an unprecedented economic shock and accelerated structural change across the commercial property spectrum.

To continue our series of short videos our Head of Research, Daniel Francis, has produced a digestible piece considering employment levels, development activity, investment performance and more. Within the piece, he contrasts the data of past years, decades, and downturns to assess the challenges the core commercial sectors are facing today.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique set of challenges for the education sector. In our article we focus on independent schools, and consider the challenges schools may face in the short and longer term; factors that may make some schools more vulnerable than others; and some potential considerations to help mitigate the impacts and ensure a school thrives post-COVID-19.

To view this report please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

If you are a landlord or property owner

If your current tenant experiences financial difficulties during this challenging period, we are able to aid you in considering your options. Our experts can provide indication of potential demand should your unit become vacant and if so, consider options to minimise any void. This could range from preparation of marketing details to considering re-purposing or developing the asset.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If your tenant has advised you that due to the current market conditions, they are unable to pay their rent, our advice is that each tenant application should be considered on its own merit. In these worrying and uncertain times, the relationship between a landlord and their tenant is even more important. Some tenants will be looking to their landlord for assistance with the rent payments. An understanding and collaborative approach should help reinforce the relationship now and in the future.

If you can, to aid your tenant, you could consider moving from quarterly to monthly rental payments. Alternatively, outstanding repayments could be paid over the remainder of the year or the rent deferred until the end of the lease.  

For further clarification on your options, or for advice on how to approach the conversation with your tenant, please contact us.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you currently own a vacant property which you weren’t effectively using prior to the COVID-19 crisis, you could consider whether the space is of any use to others in the current climate. 

With the increase in online demand and challenges with logistics, your premises may make a good short-term parking facility for containers, lorries or staff vehicles. If your property is next to NHS facilities or hospitals, it might be useful to the NHS or other support services. If you would like to consider any of these options, our professionals can facilitate the conversation. 

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you own a property and have considerable cash demands, you could consider a sale and leaseback. This is last resort as effectively you are giving up an important asset, but it could provide a quick way to release cash.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

During the coronavirus lockdown, it may be difficult to find contractors and surveyors to visit occupied properties in order to carry out testing and/or essential maintenance. In certain circumstances, failure to carry out tests or maintenance could impact upon insurance validation – this includes, but not limited to: gas safety certificates, fire extinguisher servicing, chimney sweeping, electrical certification, PAT testing, and legionella checks for water and heating systems. In such cases, we recommend that you communicate (in writing) with your insurance company in the first instance to alert them to the issue and confirm that you are taking all reasonable steps to make the necessary arrangements as soon as possible. Please also ensure that you advise the occupiers of the situation, and make a record to demonstrate that you have done everything that you could reasonably be expected to do to comply with the requirements in the circumstances.

View government advice >> 
View Gas Safe Register advice >> 

You can also use the ‘find an engineer’ functions on the following websites to search by postcode:

Gas Safe Register >> 
NICEIC >>  
HETAS >>
OFTEC >>  
 

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you are a tenant

If you have any concerns around being able to pay your rent, we suggest you contact your landlord as soon as possible to discuss a flexible payment plan. 

There is considerable misunderstanding about the new forfeiture provisions, which some tenants have taken as a green light to stop paying rent. This is incorrect, if tenants are not proposing to pay rent, this is not a new right but something that has to be agreed with their landlord.

Ideas such as deferring rent for the quarter are obviously preferable for tenants but could also put landlords in a difficult position. If you were to defer, we suggest you consider a compromise, for example adding another three months, or longer, onto your lease.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you have a break clause coming up, or your lease is due to expire, you could look at renegotiating or simply terminating. Break clauses are a good opportunity to renegotiate with landlords and seek relief in your existing lease.

Also, if you have an approaching break clause trigger date, we suggest you think carefully about seeking rental concessions, as this may impact your ability to operate the break clause.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you are just about to sign a lease, you need to think carefully as to whether the terms that you are signing are still appropriate in the current uncertain climate. There is no doubt that these circumstances are going to create a degree of stress in the system and there will inevitably be adjustments in rent and rent free periods going forward. We suggest you re-evaluate what your future occupational requirements may be and consider re-opening negotiations.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

Examine the Government support closely and the concessions on your business rates. Following the Government’s announcement, retail and leisure have featured in the headlines recently and have relief for at least 12 months. There is a current campaign requesting the same relief is applied across offices and industrial. This campaign has not been successful yet, and while it may well still be, the reality is your rates still need to be paid. It is important you speak with your charging authority about your ability to pay.

There is also a possibility that you can claim empty rates if you are not using the property currently. For further advice on this route, please speak to one of our professionals.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you are within the public sector

We appreciate that the current COVID-19 crisis will be putting further pressure on public sector teams as extra hands are required to deal with the UK emergency. If you require aid, our property experts can support the work that your teams need to deliver on a day-to-day basis from a remote working environment. 

These functions include (but are not limited to): 
Estate management, asset management of investment portfolios, data cleansing, landlord and tenant back log, geospatial/mapping exercises, service led strategic review of portfolio needs, One Public Estate initiatives, strategic joint venture procurement, providing development control and planning policy support, project management support for ongoing reconfiguration/regeneration projects.
 

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us

If you require a valuation

As lenders begin to emerge from an exceptionally busy period of dealing with enquiries under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and supporting customers with repayment holidays, and cashflow management issues, we are seeing a significant number of borrowers refinancing to reinvest elsewhere. Take advantage of the historically low bank of England base rates, and some acquisitional and development activity.  

Where property is offered as security it must be valued and, we are now able to carry out the full due diligence, including inspections, subject to some restrictions in the case of occupied property. This has been identified as a substantial factor which is hindering the delivery of new loans, which also has ramifications for liquidity in the wider economy. 

In the meantime, we are offering desk-top valuations, with some rare exceptions where we can both inspect and comply with Government restrictions. Typically, these exceptions might be bare land development sites or, very occasionally, vacant properties. We will draw from a range of sources of information in order to comply with our client’s requirements as well as the RICS Global Standards 2020 (Red Book). Our valuations are currently subject to the RICS issued uncertainty clause, reflecting the highly unusual market conditions.

We therefore recommend that borrowers and lenders alike prepare in advance to support a valuation by having as much information to hand which is independently sourced or verifiable before approaching valuers. This information may include previous valuation reports, survey reports, marketing particulars, planning applications or information that shows the arrangement, condition and specification of the property. 

Our valuation professionals know valuers play a key role and are doing all we can to help ensure the current market frictions are mitigated as much as possible. 

For further information on our valuation service, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Our valuation professionals are continuing to value property and land, however certain restrictions are in place to ensure we are following Government guidelines. For the avoidance of doubt, we are now able to undertake external and internal inspections, subject to restrictions in the case of occupied property. Following the RICS guidelines, any valuations taking place in the current situation need to be subject to regular review. 

For further information on our valuation service, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

We are still attaching full liability to all our valuations. Any additional contract stipulations currently in place are in relation to valuations being reviewed more regularly, rather than the actual values. 

For further information on our valuation service, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Currently, we are assuming no market adjustment in yield as there is no evidence to base the quantum of movement. The only exception to this is retail assets, where a yield adjustment must be made. However, we are monitoring the market constantly and advising our clients carefully throughout this unprecedented situation. 

For further information on our valuation service, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

If you are looking to invest in property

Commercial investment underwriting based around medium to long term hold periods, experience from the credit crisis, and previous downturns, teaches us that most investors will be well placed to weather the current COVID-19 crisis. However, if the crisis continues beyond the early summer, then cracks may quickly become apparent if it becomes more difficult to raise capital, borrow or service existing debt. At this point, investors may have to consider whether they need to divest.

However, as we stand today, many investors will be hoping for a quick recovery and therefore planning to ride out the storm until confidence recovers. This is likely to lead to a shortage of real estate stock and fewer transactions but potentially support pricing, particularly for prime assets.

Just as there were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there continue to be opportunities in the market for those wishing to invest in property or land. During this uncertain time, our experts can offer market investment advice across all the main sectors, based on our specialist market knowledge, to help support future investment strategies.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

If your project is currently on site

The current Government advice is that, even with COVID-19 restrictions, construction is an activity which can continue, subject to adjustments to site protocol to follow PHE guidance. This has been summarised by the CLC Site operating procedures which is being regularly updated and the latest advice can be found here.
 

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Works should adjust accordingly to ensure social distancing guidelines are adhered to. Any contract should set out what to do in this instance. There are many different opinions but if, a JCT for example, has not been amended, then it is likely to be a relevant under the guise of force majeure. As such, contractors will be entitled to an extension of time to complete the works using alternative approaches, such as reduced labour. However, they will not be entitled to claim loss and expense.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Ultimately, the contractor is responsible for ensuring Government safety advice is followed correctly during the COVID-19 situation. At Carter Jonas we regularly act as principal designer, advising clients on their duties under the CDM Regulations, which govern health and safety on site. To this end, we have put in place a process to advise clients or contractors who have queries around the effectiveness of proposed measures. We are also able to make recommendations if required. However, the ultimate responsibility for the safe running of any construction site, in the prevailing circumstances, rests with the contractor.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

If you wish to stop works, the outcome depends on what your contractor says. Many standard forms of contract don’t contain an automatic right to suspend, so if contracts haven’t been amended there will need to be a negotiation between employers and contractors.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Regarding who should be on site. This should only be those who cannot do their job from home. At Carter Jonas, we view this as the site labour force and their management. We are working closely with clients and contractors to put in place robust measures for reviewing progress and quality of works remotely using technology. We are also considering amendments to the contracts to impose alternative duties. This is so professional teams and clients can fulfil their obligations while adhering to current Government guidance.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

If your works were due to begin on site, but have yet to commence, while COVID-19 is at the forefront of all our minds, other factors still exist and need to be taken into consideration. If you do decide to proceed, well-drafted contracts reflecting the situation are imperative. You may wish to reconsider associated documents such as collateral warranties and ensure that these are executed up front. Also, you may want these from more or different parties than you had previously considered necessary.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

We have several projects where a range of design development activities are continuing remotely. Using the technology available to us, this is proving to be both practical and efficient, however we are remaining mindful of the need to make sure these changed working practices do not compromise client opportunity and accuracy of design in the long term. We believe this needs to remain at the forefront of everyone’s approach.

To view our current Commercial Market Outlook, please click here.

If you would like to speak to a property specialist, please contact us.

Planning applications can still be submitted in the same way, however with the current situation, we anticipate the statutory consultation and decision period of 12 weeks will be extremely challenging for the local authorities reviewing applications.
For further information on how the planning process will be impacted by COVID-19, please view our Planning & Development response page.

Useful links

To view the current government guidance for businesses, please click here

To view the current government guidance for employees, please click here.
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GET IN TOUCH
@ Scott Harkness
Scott Harkness
MRICS
Partner - Head of Commercial Division
0207 518 3236 email me about Scott
@ Will Mooney
Will Mooney 
MRICS
Partner - Head of Professional and Commercial Services in the Eastern Region
01223 558032 email me about Will Mooney
@ Jon Silversides
Jon Silversides
MRICS
Business Space Agency - Oxford
01865 404458 email me about Jon
@ Andrew Hardwick
Andrew Hardwick
Partner
0117 363 5694 email me about Andrew
@ Philip Marshal
Philip Marshall
MNAEA MICBA
Partner - Commercial Agency
01225 747261 email me about Philip
@ Chris Hartnell
Chris Hartnell
Head of Northern Agency
0113 203 1079 email me about Chris
@ Caroline Penn-Smith
Caroline Penn-Smith
Partner
01213 060376 email me about Caroline
@ John Knight
John Knight
Partner
020 7016 0730 email me about John
@ Michael Pain
Michael Pain
MRICS
Tenant Advisory - London
020 7016 0722 email me about Michael
@ Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith
MBA SIOR FRICS
Partner - Industrial National
020 7518 3242 email me about Andrew
@ Alexandra Houghton
Alexandra Houghton
MRICS
Partner - Head of Consultancy and Strategy
020 7518 3225 email me about Alexandra
@ Richard Love
Richard Love
MRICS
Head of Architecture and Building Consultancy
020 7518 3299 email me about Richard
@ Dudley Holme-Turner
Dudley Holme-Turner
Head of Valuations - London
020 7518 3286 email me about Dudley
@ Graham Pepper
Graham Pepper
FRICS
Head of Property and Asset Management
020 7518 3231 email me about Graham
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Scott specialises in providing advice on agency and development matters to a wide variety of clients from private individuals and trusts through to property funds, institutions, companies and statutory authorities.  He advises both owners and occupiers across public and private sectors.

Working at Board level with clients, Scott’s specialist areas include Business development, development of property strategies, property investment advice, advice in the marketing and disposal of property as well as property acquisitions.

Scott has a particular knowledge and understanding of the property market in the wider Oxfordshire region whilst also operating on a national basis on specific projects.

I can provide advice on:

Will Mooney is a Partner based in Cambridge. He has over 27 years experience of the agency, investment, acquisition and development markets in this region and nationally. He specialises in the office, business and science park, hotel, retail and leisure sectors. Will provides strategic advice to many institutional, national and international clients, including ARM Holdings, The Downing College, Development Securities, Carisbrooke, University of Essex, Goodman, Greene King and Travelodge.

I can provide advice on:

Three career highlights:
Over a career spanning nearly 30 years involving all forms of property from a nuclear bunker through to the vast majority of the County’s main business schemes, it is difficult to choose just three highlights; the following are certainly are worthy of note:

Letting acquisition, for SkyCaddie, at Haddenham: 
I have chosen this as we were presented with a challenging brief by our client but I was able to use my market knowledge to unearth an off market opportunity that we subsequently acquired on very favourable terms.

Sale of Foxcombe Hall, Oxford: It is not often you get to market a University Campus and, as such, our disposal of the former Open University Campus at Boars Hill has been a highlight, working alongside our residential team on this high profile instruction.

Letting instruction, The Quadrant, Abingdon Science Park: I am currently leading this letting instruction where we have enjoyed a considerable amount of early success. I have chosen this as a highlight however as we have been able to provide clear letting advice, implement our recommendations and see the results.   

I can provide advice on:

Three career highlights 2016:

Off-market acquisition prime Bath retail and office Investment
Off-market acquisition prime Bath offices for growing Plc
Brexit straddling Travel Lodge Investment acquisition

 
I can provide advice on:
Chris heads the Commercial Agency team from the Leeds office providing services to both landlord and occupier clients throughout Yorkshire and across the North of England. He specialises in the office and industrial sectors providing both acquisition and disposal advice to a range of clients to include national and local institutions as well as private individuals. He also provides advice in relation to Landlord and Tenant issues, including rent reviews and lease renewals.
I can provide advice on:

Caroline is a partner in the commercial team and is based in our Birmingham office.

I can provide advice on:

John was previously a Director of the National Markets Office Investment department at BNP Paribas Real Estate and formally Strutt & Parker. He has over 15 years’ experience in the UK investment market, with a particular focus on business and office parks.

John advised on a range of high profile acquisitions and disposals of investment properties for a variety of key clients, including Arlington/TPG, Railpen, Dimah Capital, Orchard Street Investment Management, Hunter Real Estate Investment Management and Frasers Property. 

At Carter Jonas, John will work with colleagues from across the business’s expanding commercial division - including teams in Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham and Leeds - building on existing experience to spearhead a dedicated and cohesive approach for private and public sector clients targeting commercial properties.

I can provide advice on:

Michael is Head of Carter Jonas’ London Tenant Advisory Team and specialises in providing office search, lease negotiation, relocation management, rent review and lease restructuring consultancy services to office tenants based in Central and Greater London. He has over 20 years experience and his clients include international corporates such as Hitachi, Warner Bros and Hackett, not for profit organisations such as The Overseas Development Institute and The Nursing and Midwifery Council as well as owner-managed businesses including Wavex Technology, Credo Business Consulting and Turley Associates.

The range of consultancy services provided by Michael and his Team include advising on office availability, rents and rent free periods, undertaking property searches, representing tenants in lease negotiations, developing office relocation project plans, timetables and budgets and project managing each stage of the relocation process, including overseeing the pre-contract due diligence, and co-ordinating the activities of all those consultants who will be involved in the office move.

I can provide advice on:

Three career highlights: 

Acquisition of over 800,000 sq ft between 7 sites on behalf of one of the UK’s largest parcel operators, acquiring one freehold, two assignments (plus reversionary leases) and four new leases on buildings across the UK (Bodmin, Basingstoke, Chester Le Street, Grays, East London, Coventry and Rotherham). 

Disposal of 3 million sq ft, 200 acres on behalf of SAPPI which was one of the largest Brownfield sites in Switzerland in 2012 sold for over €50 million.  

Worked on one of the largest data centre/ colocation transactions in Singapore of 30,000 sq ft data centre within the Global Switch building on behalf of Asia Global Crossing.

 
I can provide advice on:

Three career highlights:

Significant involvement in and preparation of the Ministry of Defence ‘Footprint Strategy’ announced in the House of Commons, during a 2 year secondment to DIO.

A number of Central Government and Local Authority Green Book Business Cases leading to relocations, change programmes and adopting new ways of working.

Sale of Centrepoint Tower to Almacantar under the Targetfollow administration 

I can provide advice on:

Richard Love is a Partner, Head of Building Surveying in our London Commercial Team. Richard joined from Watts Group PLC where he worked since 2010, most recently as director in it's project consultancy group. Richard's role is to provide building consultancy services, including relocation management, contract administration, design, strategic procurement and conservation advice with our clients.

Career Highlights:

Ealing Town Hall:
Full external restoration of Grade II Listed Victorian Gothic town hall building. The project arose from a survey identifying incidences of dangerous stonework and the project incorporated extensive masonry repairs, reroofing, redecorations, stained glass replacement, access improvements and drainage improvements.  Works on site were delivered over an eight month period during which the town hall remained fully operational.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists HQ Relocation:
Project management services in respect of all aspects of the HQ relocation for this prestigious medical college.  The relocation centred around moving into a 50,000sq ft 1980’s office building and delivered a comprehensive strip out and refurbishment including the creating of canteen and catering facilities, conference space, library including antique book collection and sublet space.  The relocation was delivered in 9 months (inception to completion) and Richard also handled dilapidations matters on exit.

Career developments
Being appointed to the board overseeing the expansion of the Carter Jonas Commercial Division, which took place in early 2017. Also, managing the expansion of the Architecture and Building Consultancy team. The service line has doubled the number of specialists working within it in the last two years, becoming the largest team within the division. Further growth plans are currently in place for the next few years.

I can provide advice on:
Find me on Linkedin

Three career highlights: 
Valuation of Green Property Company for acquisition purposes
Valuation of Camden Markets Portfolio  for loan Security purposes
Acting as LPA Receiver on £400m property company prior to  its sale

I can provide advice on:
Graham has over 26 years of property and asset management experience. During that time, he has been involved in investment strategy, rent reviews, valuation and agency as well as his core skill of property and asset management. The portfolio of properties on which Graham has worked have been spread throughout the UK and represented every sector.
I can provide advice on:

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