A Day In The Life Of...

Issue 79

EMILY SEAGER Emily Seager MRICS, is a Partner in the lease advisory team at Knight Frank in Newcastle. She has specialised in commercial property lease renewals, rent reviews and lease restructures for over 17 years.

6.45am Our eight-year-old son and daughter, 4, usually get us up around this time. Then the mad dash to get ready, prepare and eat breakfasts, sort bags and find lost shoes, reading books etc. begins.

8am My husband, John, and I, split the children’s drop offs at school and nursery between us.

8.30am I’m at my desk, tea in hand, and I start with my emails. I represent landlords and tenants on everything to do with commercial property leases, across the retail, industrial and office markets. It’s an exceptionally interesting time because the three markets are more diverse than I can ever recall. Industrial is booming. Retail is evolving and – in many areas struggling. And offices are changing rapidly. So, in turn, my enquiries are incredibly varied. Manufacturing and logistics tenants, for example, are looking for ways to protect themselves against careering rent levels in a thriving market. Landlords in retail are looking for advice on how to keep hold of tenants but also improve upon the short-term concessions they offered at the height of the pandemic. Office landlords are encouraged by the return of workers to their offices but are needing to accommodate their tenants’ evolving space needs. As well as dealing with rising occupational costs, in terms of utilities and energy efficiency works. As market conditions change and lease renewal dates and break options occur, clients get in touch with me to negotiate the very best deals they can get. 9

am I catch up with my Lease Advisory colleague, Judith Summers. We rely on each other as a sounding board for current instructions, lease issues and life generally.

9.30am I’m off on a site visit to inspect and measure a property and do some investigative work so that I can fully understand the building and the surrounding area. Today I’m dressed in PPE to inspect a 50,000 sq. ft. industrial unit in Teesside. I visit a vast range of buildings – from tiny lock-ups, to big sheds, to high street retail units, to brand new, high-end offices, and everything in between. Just because a lease is a document – it doesn’t mean my job is all pen-pushing and desk work, I still get out on site and get my hands dirty. Climbing over – and through – walls and the like. I’ve done many interesting inspections. From uncovering whole secret floors that have been boarded-up in retail properties; a factory that’s sole purpose was to ripen bananas; to a stunning champagne bar.

11.30am I meet with colleagues in our office agency team to discuss a client we’re acting for on an office property in town. They have a lease break option coming up and need advice on the likely occupational costs and incentives available if they stay – compared with relocation alternatives. I’m fronting negotiations with the existing landlord whilst our office agents are getting the best possible relocation terms. We’ll then work with other teams in the office, such as the building surveyors and business rates team, so the client can make a properly informed decision on costs and liabilities to support their longer term business needs.

12pm I have a call with a tenant – a builders merchant – who has a lease renewal due next year and is keen to try and fix their current rent now. They are nervous because they know it’s a landlords’ market. Their rent is already inflated, and they don’t want it to rise. This is a complex case and I’ve already instructed our industrial agency team to search for an alternative property as a contingency, and to strengthen our negotiating position. I’ve gone through their lease and I’ve found a couple of clauses that could work in their favour.

1pm Lunch at my desk – usually a homemade soup.

1.30pm I make some calls to chase solicitors to try and get some lease variation deals over the line. Depending on the complexity, leases can take anywhere from two months, to two years to negotiate and complete.

2pm I speak to some local retail agents, on behalf of a landlord whose rent review I’m working on in Durham, to check details of rental incentives on the latest lettings. A lot of detective work is needed for my job!

3.30pm I have a meeting with a new client – a corporate landlord – who is looking to maximise the potential of their portfolio. Around 70 leases will need to be reviewed. So, we are agreeing on a strategy to make this happen.

5pm I leave the office, pick the kids up and deal with piano practice, cubs, spellings etc and dinner.

8pm John and I have wrestled the children into bed. Now, some downtime, an hour or so of TV before a quick tidy-up and bed – if I’m lucky!

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