Retail Property - Stores fall foul of rip-off rates

Apathy could be costing retailers millions of pounds a year, according to a service charge advisory company.

Whereas most retailers will fight against proposed rent or rate increases, most sign service charge agreements without a second thought. This means many are ripped off, according to Paul Koopman, managing director of the Service Charge Company, which advises occupiers on what they should be paying.

'Service charge clauses are not simple or exciting, which is why very few people ever bother to read them,' said Koopman. One of his clients was found to be overpaying by£200,000 a year, while another consistently paid a landlord's management charge even though fees were not recoverable under the lease.

'Be tough with your lease and question the landlord,' said Koopman. 'Too many people do not pay enough attention to service costs, but those that do find there can be huge savings.'