When a property owner hands you a lease for a commercial property, it is likely the culmination of months, perhaps years, of your hard work. While you may be anxious to sign the document, move in and get your business up and running, you still have some due–diligence to perform. Like any legal document, a commercial property lease has terms and conditions to which you are legally bound once you sign. Therefore, it is wise to examine your lease thoroughly before agreeing to it.
In fact, in many cases, the terms of your lease may be negotiable. You never know if you could be getting a better deal on your commercial property unless you take the time to read your lease and understand every condition. For many, this involves reaching out to a legal professional for answers and advice.
Understanding the terms of a lease
A lease is a contract, and contracts often contain confusing jargon. Hidden in that jargon may be stipulations that are not in your best interests. Once you sign the lease, however, you are bound to those terms even if you do not understand them. You have the legal right to take the lease home and review it, and this is the time to make a list of questions to clarify any terms that are not perfectly clear to you. Some questions you may want to ask include the following:
- How does the landlord calculate your rent?
- What space does your rent cover?
- What other items does your rent cover, such as parking, security, insurance or utilities?
- When does your lease expire, and what steps must you take to terminate the lease?
- Can you make changes or improvements on the unit, and who pays for those improvements?
- Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance?
- How much of your rent pays for common areas?
- What other terms do the covenants obligate you to, and what terms do they place on the landlord?
Of course, if you do not already know about the zoning laws and nuisance regulations that may affect your Florida business or have not researched the trustworthiness of your landlord, you may not yet be ready to sign any lease. Armed with reliable information, you can approach a commercial property lease with confidence. Ideally, your landlord or property owner is experienced enough to expect a savvy business owner to negotiate for fair terms in a lease.