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What will it cost?

When working out what it will cost you to have an office you need to consider more than just the rent. There may be additional services you will need to provide yourself which are not included - it is important to make sure you are aware of ALL the costs you will have to pay. When considering potential offices make sure you compare the full costs of the offices you visit to ensure that you choose the best value office for you. The Comparative Rental Chart below is designed to help you with this. 

Key questions to ask

What is included in the rent? 

  • maintenance of the building?
  • rates?
  • use of meeting rooms?  

What is included in the service charge? 

  • utilities?
  • security?
  • maintenance of the building?
  • waste disposal and recycling?
  • cleaning of your office and communal areas?
  • building insurance?
  • reception services?
  • IT and 'phone services' (broadband, phone lines, cabling, phone system, photocopier, fax machine)?

If some of the services you need are not included you need to budget for them on top of the rent and service charge. If you already pay these costs, you can estimate from your current charges. Alternatively, you could talk to existing tenants in the building to find out how much they pay. Will there be installation costs for these services that increase your moving costs?

You should also find out how much you will need to pay in rates - ask the agent for the rateable value of the office, or visit (for England and Wales) the Valuation Office website or (for Scotland) the Scottish Assessors Association website. Click here for further information on rates.

BE AWARE! VAT might be charged on rent and the services. If you are not VAT registered you will get none of this back. Establish your charity's own VAT position from your finance office when you draw up your office brief. Agents can be vague on whether VAT is charged on the rent or not. Push them on this - one sure test is if the last tenant was or was not charged VAT.

Comparing the full cost

When you visit each of your prospective offices, you may find it useful to set down the total amount you pay for rent and services at the moment, and how much these would cost in the new premises. You can then accurately compare the total costs of each office.

You can use the Comparative Rental Chart below to help with this. Enter all of the costs of your current office into the 'Existing Office' column, and add them up to calculate your total office costs. As you visit potential properties, find out how much the rent and service charge would be, and which of the items below are included. If services you will need to use are not included in the rent or service charge (for example meeting room hire, or data costs), try to find out how much you will need to pay for them. If the agent/landlord cannot give you an exact cost, you could estimate how much they might be by asking existing tenants how much they pay.

Only by gathering information on ALL costs you need to pay will you be able to see which office represents the best value for money.

Comparative Rental Chart 


Example office

 Existing office


Office 1

Office 2

Office 3

Rent (excluding  services)



Service Charge







 No VAT charged


Costs not included in Service Charge

  •  Utilities


  •  Security


  •  Business rates


  •  Waste / recycling

£20/month for recycling

  •  Reception services

None available

  •  Cleaning


  •  Meeting room hire

£60/half day

  •  Insurance


  •  Telephone (lines and system)

 £60/month (line only)

  •  Data costs


  •  Photocopying

None available

  •  Other