from Clive Read, commercial property partner and head of disability discrimination team, Martineau Johnson

Sir; Room for manoeuvre (The Grocer, October 11, p36). As you report, from October 1 next year companies may be prosecuted if they have not made reasonable changes to their premises to ensure that disabled people, including the blind and deaf, have equal access

The total cost for businesses could run into tens of millions of pounds and companies must start planning now because adaptation can take a long time. Many companies that operate from rented premises will need to get their landlord’s agreement before work is started. Directors need to initiate legal and access audits of their premises and liaise with landlords and others so the programme of work can be managed.

Our team has been advising businesses, reviewing their properties and providing training on the issues which they will need to address.

But some businesses will be hit twice. As well as having to paying at the outset, there are rent implications. If the lettable area is reduced, the tenant may face what amounts to a higher rent per square metre at the next review, as the landlord can be entitled to disregard the extent of the non-usable area.