A key to the development of a successful business is finding the best possible location in which to set up your company. This is especially true when the nature of the company necessitates that the customer visit the business space. In order to obtain space, it is common for a company to enter into a commercial lease. Business owners should be aware of issues related to commercial leases when it comes time to negotiate and agree to the lease agreement.
What to Look for in Commercial Leases
A commercial lease is a contract between a business and a landlord for the rental of space in a building. Importantly, property is zoned for specific purposes, which may differ from what the landlord is advertising the space for or what the previous tenant used the space for. A property can be zoned for different types of uses, such as residential, commercial, or industrial. What the property is zoned for will determine the type of activities that can be conducted in the rental space. For example, the Schaumburg zoning ordinance divides the village into zones or districts and places restrictions on permitted uses within those designated areas. Therefore, a property owner should check with the local zoning authority to determine what the space is zoned for.
The length of a commercial lease is an important issue to resolve. For a business in its initial stages, the risk of failure is high. As a result, entering into a lengthy lease term is usually not advisable, particularly if the agreement contains an acceleration clause. An acceleration clause gives the landlord the ability to request the entire unpaid rental amount for the remainder of the lease term. A long lease term puts the company at the risk of being obligated to pay a substantial amount of money for space that it is no longer using.
For new businesses, negotiating for shorter lease terms with several renewal options can help address the possibility of the business failing. Another great option is to negotiate for an escape clause that frees the business from the rental agreement in the event the business fails. Alternatively, longer lease terms may be perfectly suitable for more established businesses. Longer lease terms can be helpful because the location of the rental space can provide value, particularly if customers frequently visit, as, for example, in the case of a restaurant or retail store.
Some other issues that should be addressed in the lease agreement include:
- 1. The right to place signs in and/or on the rental space;
- 2. Whether common areas or facilities (like restrooms) can be accessed by employees and customers; and
- 3. Whether parking areas can be used by employees and customers.
If these issues are not specifically addressed in the agreement, it is likely they will require the consent of the landlord, which may not be granted. Therefore, it is important to resolve these issues before entering the agreement.
It is important to keep in mind that these are only a few of the considerations when negotiating a commercial lease. If you are in the process of searching for commercial space, contact an experienced Illinois commercial real estate attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC represents clients in locations such as Inverness, Palatine, and Schaumburg.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.