GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said that many practices across England still do not have signed lease agreements and are unlikely to have them in place before PCTs are abolished in April.
But the DH has confirmed that any transfers of PCT property to a new NHS estates management organisation - NHS Property Services Ltd (PropCo) - or other NHS providers will be subject to ‘any existing rights of occupiers, whether documented or undocumented’ and that practices will be safe from eviction.
Dr Holden said practices could still face rent rises if PropCo decides to review their rates in future, but advised GPs not to sign a new lease until it was agreed that they would get 100% of the rent reimbursed.
‘Practices should sit tight and take legal advice,' he said. 'If there is no signed lease agreement it is down to PCT incompetence. They should not be rushed into anything. PropCo is an unknown entity. PropCo will want to get these leases sorted out eventually.
'They have to reimburse practices 100% if the premises are 100% used for NHS purposes.'
He warned practices not to sign up to agreements with ‘crazy charges for cleaning’ if they think it can be done cheaper. He also warned against signing an agreement which would make the practice responsible for structural repairs.
‘The lease has to be an agreed lease,’ he said. ‘There has to be a negotiation.
‘Practices are going to have to understand that the GPC can negotiate the principle but the underlying detail practices will have to do. Practices will have to pay for some legal advice.’
A DH spokeswoman said: ‘Any transfers of PCT property to either NHS Property Services Ltd or NHS providers will be subject to any existing rights of occupiers, whether documented or undocumented. GP practices without lease agreements will not face eviction as a result of these transfers.’
Some PCTs have been demanding up to £100,000 in service charges from practices to balance their books before they are abolished in April. Hundreds of practices across England face potential disputes over the charges because they have no signed lease or service charge agreements with their PCT.
A GP investigation last year found that 542 GP premises across 132 PCTs that responded to a Freedom of Information request were without a signed lease agreement, equivalent to about 8% of all practices. GP's investigation also revealed that 446 GP premises had no signed agreement relating to service charges.