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What is a full repairing and insuring lease and what does it mean for tenants?

View profile for Paul Davies
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What is a full repairing and insuring lease and what does it mean for tenants?

Landlords and/or their agents will often, after agreeing the basic terms with a tenant, send out to them heads of terms containing a number of terms and conditions that may seem straightforward and innocuous but often need a level of knowledge that a first time tenant does not have.

Having worked in the commercial property sector for over 25 years one of the most common questions that I receive from tenants is “what does a FRI lease mean?”  The short answer is full repairing and insuring lease, but again this does not really explain to the tenant the full implications.

In a nutshell this is a lease where the costs of all repairs and insurance are the responsibility of the tenant. The purpose of this article is to explain the risks and the potential remedies that the tenant faces in accepting this repairing obligation. The issue of insurance is a matter for a further article.

What a tenant often does not realise is that an obligation in a lease to keep the property in repair means that the tenant has to put the property into repair, even if it is not in repair when the lease was entered into. Tenants often believe that the repairing obligation is simply to hand the property back to the tenant in the same condition that it was when they took the lease, this is not correct. If something is out of repair they are required, during the term of the lease, to repair it.

An example that I have come across is of a tenant taking a lease of a hairdressers shop on a full repairing basis. The shop had a roller shutter which did not work from day one, it was therefore out of repair and by accepting a full obligation to repair the tenant agreed to an obligation to put it into repair. At the end of the term the landlord sent the tenant a list of breaches of the repairing obligation and top of the list was a demand to repair the roller shutter which ran into thousands of pounds.

The remedy to this is to amend the repairing obligation in the lease so that the tenant is required to hand the property back to the landlord at the end of the term in no better but no worse a condition as exists at the date of the lease. In order to evidence the condition of the property at the start of the lease a detailed photographic schedule of condition should be prepared. This will have to be agreed with the landlord and then annexed to the lease. This will then limit the extent of the tenants repairing obligation. However it should be noted that the better the survey the better the protection, especially if the tenant is taking the lease of the whole of a property. In this scenario the repairing obligation will then cover not only the interior but also the structure, including the roof. If a tenant is to take a long lease of the whole of a building I would recommend that they should have a full structural survey carried out to highlight any defects and thereby reduce their liability moving forward.

What is a full repairing and insuring lease?

Also known as an FRI lease. A full repairing lease means that the tenant is responsible for the cost of all the repairs and upkeep of the property and also the cost of buildings insurance. If the tenant occupies only part of the building these costs are usually shared with other tenants and paid in the form of a service charge. Full repairing and insuring leases are the most common form of lease for business or commercial premises in England and Wales.


    • FRI LEASEMazlum ulgur
    • Posted

    Dear sir/Madam.    I am owner of the FRI LEASE for last 5 years the property was rent it out 40 - 50 years and I used only last 5 years. What my responsibliety.is full decorating and reparing or changing windows doors and anything about the building do I have to replace the parts what was not dameged many thanks

    Response from Stephensons

    Thank you for your comment, this is an area our team should be able to advise you on but they would need some more information regarding the terms of your lease. If you would like to speak to our commercial property solicitors please call us on 0161 696 6174 or submit your contact details and enquiry via our online enquiry form.

    • Repair CostsPhil Grace
    • Posted

    Would a landlord specify an amount to be set aside for repair and maintenance? Is it normal for a tenancy agreement to include a figure for RandM costs?

    Response from Stephensons

    Of many commercial leasesd only a very small minority have specified that the tenant put aside monies for repair and maintenance / provide its own sinking fund. So I would say it is not the norm. On the occasions I have seen it, it has been a small percentage of the rent put aside at the same time as the rent payment dates. Of course landlords can also request rent deposits to cover failure to maintain/repair issues, usually again a percentage of annual rent, e.g. 3 or 6 months rent deposit.  

    • LandlordsGraham Walters
    • Posted

    I read with interest your explanation of an FRI lease.

    Id I take on an FRI lease what exactly are the landlords obligations, he gets a tenant paying exorbitant rent (In Andover), who is legally responsible for maintaining HIS property and ensuring it is kept in good repair.

    How did this injustice come about, and what can be done to alter it !


    Response from Stephensons

    There are different rules governing residential and  commercial leases. More protection is afforded to the residential tenant, less so for the commercial tenant. Although, there is legislation dictating the EPC rating of a commercial property  for example, there is none regarding the general condition of the property. The answer mainly falls on the tenant, to fully investigate and survey a property, before entering into a lease obligation. They do not have to enter the lease as drawn, but can negotiate its terms to be more fair, placing obligations on the landlord as well as removing the responsibility from them.