How to avoid IT pitfalls of relocating

Relocating your business can be stressful enough but, in an age where property and technology are inextricably linked, other...

Relocating your business can be stressful enough but, in an age where property and technology are inextricably linked, other considerations must be taken into account beyond shifting all your furniture and finding a decent lunch-hour pub.

Your management board needs to be aware of them, as do legal advisers. This is not rocket science but it is important that companies consider the following questions before moving and that legal advisers are fully informed of property/IT needs. Let Alka Kirby be your guide.

A guide to moving
Business moves are complicated by the need to ensure IT continuity. Downtime for routine IT maintenance can be difficult to accommodate, so it is important that the IT system in the new property is up and running before the workforce moves in - and it is important that this it is built into the timetable for the move.

When relocating to a prime business area, you should consider whether you want to pay a premium rental for storing IT equipment, or whether it makes more commercial sense for the equipment to be housed externally in a third party facility. Housing IT equipment outside the new premises would also be prudent from a security/back-up point of view.

If IT equipment is to be housed in the new property, does a mirror back-up need to be organised in an external facility?

It is imperative that the new property caters for the immediate IT needs of the company but it must also allow for future IT needs. Your legal adviser should be able to make the necessary enquiries.

If the property is leasehold and the lease can be assigned or underlet, will it be attractive to a third party company?

In your current property have you made alterations to the property to accommodate IT needs? If so, these may need to be reinstated when leaving if stipulated in your lease. And has the cost of this been taken into account when budgeting for the move?

You should also consider whether the new property requires alterations. If so:

  • What is the lead time and has this been built into the timetable for the move?

  • Is the landlord's consent for the alterations required?

  • Have you asked your property adviser to negotiate to avoid making alterations at the end of the term if this would be costly.

Companies also need to consider whether there is IT equipment/telecommunications property on the roof of their current building, and whether they need it to be placed on the roof of the new building. If so:

  • Does your new lease include ownership of the roof?

  • Is the landlord's consent required for such equipment?

  • Has your property legal adviser been asked the relevant questions and built in rights of access for maintenance etc, on in the lease of the new property?

  • Who will be liable under the terms of the lease for insurance of the equipment?

  • Is planning permission or other local authority/third party consent required for installation of equipment on the roof?

Alka Kirby is an associate at Osborne Clarke. She is a technology lawyer who retrained after working in commercial property law

Read more on Managing IT and business issues