Hi there, it sounds like you are in a difficult position. First, a couple of questions. Have you asked your landlord for a breakdown of the opex and checked that the charges are things that can be passed back to you under the terms of your lease? Also, have you got the “no access in an emergency” clause (this is clause 27.5 in the ADLS form of lease) which could entitle you to rent abatement for the lockdown periods, and if so, did the landlord abate the rent and opex?
Second, a couple of assumptions. I assume that the tenant under your lease is your company, and I assume that you do not have any right to terminate your lease early but you do have a right to sublease or assign with landlord consent.
Based on these assumptions, if you cannot negotiate an early termination with your landlord (this may be palatable to the landlord if you offer a “break fee” but I appreciate that you may not be able to afford this), you could look to either assign or sublease. In brief, assignment is when you find another tenant (an assignee) to take over your lease. In this case, the assignee enters into a deed of assignment with you and the landlord agreeing to take over the lease and to comply with all the tenant’s obligations under the lease from the date of assignment. It is important to note that, unless you get the landlord to release your company, your company (and any guarantors under the lease) will remain liable for any default by the new tenant/assignee for the remainder of the lease term. That means if the assignee stops paying rent, for example, the landlord can claim this from you.
A sublease means you find another tenant to take over some (or all, if the lease allows) of the area that you lease. They will enter into a sublease of that area with your company and will pay rent to your company under that lease. Your company will remain as a party to the lease with the landlord – so your company will still be liable directly to the landlord under the lease.
In both cases it is usual for the lease to require you to get landlord consent first, and the lease usually sets out the conditions of that consent, but the landlord must be reasonable in giving that consent.
Otherwise, you will continue to be liable as tenant under the lease for the remainder of the term. Your exposure in this respect will depend on a number of factors. I would be happy to look at the terms of your lease and have a chat – if you email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your contact details I can give you a call.