Leasing a commercial space is an expensive and serious affair, one that you cannot afford to get into without knowing the legal formalities. If you have leased out a residential property before, you should know that commercial leasing is different.
What You Should Know Before Getting into a Commercial Lease
Map your location depending on your budget. Budget is a crucial factor. However, you should look at other issues such as where your client base is located and the zoning laws in that location.
Get the right professionals involved. It is important to get the right professionals on your side so that you are well-advised throughout the leasing process. This reduces the number of issues that may crop up. Professionals include attorneys, real estate brokers/agents, architects and contractors, government agencies in your State, and development agencies. A good lawyer will have a team ready for you.
Another thing you need to decide is the office needs. Some of the questions you should ask yourself include the following. How many cubicles or offices do you require? Are there any additional rooms like a waiting room or seating area? How about light and ventilation?
You should have a budget in place. This helps to narrow down the location and also helps to have operating costs in mind.
Once you have established a building you want to lease, investigate ownership. This can easily be done through online registries for specific cities and counties. Information you should be looking for include mortgages, deeds and the history of the building.
Determine property tax on the building. In most states tenants are mandated to divide the property tax of the building amongst them.
Research zoning restrictions and make sure they apply to your business to avoid being in violation. Whatever you intend to use the building on should be acceptable under the zoning laws.
Negotiating and Reviewing the Lease
Negotiating the Terms of the Lease
After you have done your due diligence, you may contact the building owner after which you may get a lease. It is advisable that a lawyer has a look at the lease to make sure everything is in place. It is important to note that commercial tenants have fewer rights than residential tenants who are more protected by the law.
On receipt of the lease, you have the right to negotiate the terms before signing it. You can respond to the lease through a letter. The letter should propose revisions to the landlord. This is often called a term sheet and contains your reviews and your propositions.
After negotiating the terms, your attorney should go through the lease before you sign it. After you sign the lease, you are not able to negotiate, and so this is an important step.
Reviewing the Terms of the Lease
The lease agreement should contain the street address of the rental space. This serves as a description. If the building has rest rooms out of the office and any storage space associated with the lease then this should be included as well. The amount of rent and annual increments should be stated in the lease. A security deposit is the norm and should also be listed. Usually, landlords will ask for a security deposit of 2-3 months. The landlord should give the tenant a period when they will not pay rent as they are conducting renovations.
Every lease has its own terms and options to renew. This should be in the lease agreement. You should have an idea of how long you wish to rent out the space so you can make sure the lease includes it.
Termination of the lease should be included. Some landlords reserve the right to end your contract if they sell the building. You should look out for this. If the lease is ended before term, then the landlord should compensate you moving costs at the very least.
You should know the limits of your space. There are certain things you are allowed to do and others that you are permitted from doing at the building premises. All of these should be clearly written in the lease.
Lease agreements often contain complicated language, which if you do not understand, may end up being a liability on your part. Get a lawyer to review your lease agreement before you sign it.
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