Relocating your Charity - Key Considerations

Relocating to new premises is a major undertaking. This page sets out some points to consider.

By Annette McGill

Any relocation process begins with considering your charity's requirements.

Your space needs, now and in the future

When considering relocation, it is a good idea to bring together a group of stakeholders to assess your property needs. A working group might include a mix of senior staff, facilities and property staff, and if appropriate other stakeholders who make use of your premises.

As first step, analyse how you are using your current premises. What works well? What are the areas that commonly give rise to complaints? Do staff complain about noise or lack of light? Is there a lack of meeting rooms? Looking at these issues will help you to establish some priorities.

Next you should consider future needs: 

  • How do you think your charity will change over the next few years?
  • Will it grow or shrink?
  • Is your charity thinking about delivering services in a different way?
  • Is your charity going to implement flexible working? How might your space requirements change?

Looking at premises - key points:

Once you have started looking at premises, here are the key issues you should record and think about:

1. Space

How much is there? How is it distributed? How flexible is the space? What is the floor plan like? -- Can you get an accurate plan from the landlord/current owners? (This can be surprisingly difficult.)

2. Costs:

You need to tabulate and compare ALL the costs related to a property. These may include:

  • rent
  • rates
  • service charges
  • insurances
  • fees: solicitors, structural reports, surveys,
  • possible building works - see item 4, below
  • other considerations: Can you negotiate a rent-free period? Could you sublet if necessary?

3. State:

What condition is in it?

  • Surveys, building services, condition reports and/or structural reports, if available
  • Records of work done
  • Maintenance logs
  • Noise levels, light levels, ventilation, etc.

4. Refurbishment Requirements:

  • What needs doing and who will pay for it?
  • Minor redecorations or major building works?
  • What is the scope of works?
  • What is the urgency of works?
  • What is the controllability of works?
  • What is the status of the building -- e.g. is listed?
  • Will you need building permissions, planing permission, etc.?

5. Location and Accessibility:

  • What does the locality feel like? Is it safe? If you plan evening or weekend use, would you need to employ security?
  • What are transport links like? How important is that your staff, stakeholders and visitors can easily travel to the site? Is there sufficient transport infrastructure - including parking and space for bike storage, for example.
  • Are there restrictions on the use of the building?
  • What about other organisations in the building?
  • How accessible is the site/the building? Is there public access? Disabled access?
  • Do you need access for refurbishment works -e.g. skips, heavy equipment, etc.?

6. Dynamics: What could change over time?

  • How long is the lease?
  • How often are the rent reviews?
  • How are they structured?
  • What about the current occupancy?
  • What is the timetable for availability?
  • Are there likely to be any changes in status?
  • Could you increase or shrink the amount of space your charity has, if necessary?

7. Local partnerships and amenities:

Who else is in the building?

Is there a possibility for linking up with your neighbours to share services?

Are there local organisations with whom you could work?

Are there opportunities for joint working?