Both NHS Property Services and the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) have agreed on terms of a standard lease template for undocumented NHS practices.
The new template will allow NHS Property Services to finish agreeing leases with approximately 1,000 GP occupiers with no documentation.
This will give both the landlord and the occupier clarity on their rights and responsibilities, as well as on the space and services used by the occupier.
The agreed lease template integrates standard property industry practices with the special circumstances of GPs.
A GP’s property commitments are now aligned to the length of their core contract with their commissioner and to the GP’s expectations for reimbursable property costs.
Furthermore, practices that sign a lease before 30 November 2017 will benefit from a package of financial support from NHS England, including contributions to Stamp Duty Land Tax, VAT, legal costs and service charge management fees.
Other benefits to practices include a clause allowing practices who lose their core contract to break their lease, the removal of a previous clause that allowed NHS Property Services to relocate a practice and increased transparency for service charges.
Dr Brian Balmer, BMA GP executive member, said: “It [the lease] has been produced after considerable negotiation and we believe it allows practices to sign up to individual leases with the confidence that they are entering into a fair and modern relationship with the landlord.
“There will of course always be local issues which need to be resolved and this agreement is not a magic bullet to every problem that arises with GP premises. The government still, for example, needs to deliver on their planned investment in GP infrastructure.”
However, NHS Improvements has said in a statement: “In the interests of achieving consistency across the estate, terms will not be tailored to individual occupiers any further than is absolutely necessary to fit their circumstances.”
NHS Property Services owns and manages about 10% of the NHS estate, including about 11% of NHS GP practices.
The agreement will also benefit the NHS as the process of documenting occupations will save money by identifying vacant space.
This will allow the NHS to commit to investing in modernisation or replacement of GP premises where necessary.
Finalising the lease completes negotiations between the BMA, NHS Property Services, NHS England and the Department of Health, which started in September 2013.
John Westwood, director of asset management at NHS Property Services, said: “Although this formal approach is very different from what many of our GP occupiers have known in the past, we have found broad agreement on the principle of establishing rights and responsibilities through leases.
He added: “This documentation will ensure that we and our occupiers have the same understanding of the space they occupy – including access, shared and common areas.
“It provides a platform for planning future needs, so that we can help tenants manage space better, deliver services in a different way or identify extra services that might be needed.”