What’s in a Lease? Part 2.


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Before signing a lease, you want to make sure you are happy with the terms for the entire lease duration. To do this, you must understand the internal pieces of a lease so you can negotiate favorable terms with the landlord.

  • Right to Terminate: This section of the contract describes what will happen if the contract is ended early or defaulted on, and describes the conditions for termination. Either party has the right to terminate the lease for a variety of reasons. However, one source of power you can ask for is a break clause which permits the tenant to terminate the lease without being obligated to pay the remaining rent balance should there be a timely notification of the intent to leave. This can be a great source of leverage to restructure a lease regardless of how the market has changed since the inception of the lease.
  • Surrender of Premises: A surrender of premises clause stipulates the conditions of how the premises should be returned to the landlord and what procedures to follow when the lease ends. The clause outlines the tenant’s obligations, the landlord’s rights and what happens to any property left behind. It is acceptable to negotiate for the space to be returned in broom clean condition, and nothing more. The landlord may ask for space to be returned to white box condition, but that is too much to ask.
  • Gross Lease: A gross lease is a type of commercial lease where the landlord pays for the building’s property taxes, insurance and maintenance. The gross lease can be modified to meet the needs of a particular building’s tenants, and a gross lease may require a tenant to pay utility bills. It’s important to make sure capital improvements are not passed along to tenants through operating expenses. When negotiating a gross lease, the tenant should ask which janitorial services are provided, and how often they are offered. The benefit of a gross lease is the convenience for the tenant to forecast a static expense.
  • Insurance requirement: The insurance requirement of a lease defines the lease provisions of specific insurance coverages, indemnity, restoration, self-insurance and subrogation. What makes this negotiation difficult is the ever-changing terminology and coverages of insurance. It is recommended that you have a qualified insurance broker review the coverage requirements.
  • Damage or Destruction Clause: A damage or destruction clause in a lease agreement outlines the rights and obligations of the parties to the lease in the event that the leased premises are damaged or destroyed during the term of the lease. Seek to minimize the time in which the lease can be terminated, and maximize the remedies available for the tenant.

Understanding the different terms, clauses and definitions of a lease is half the battle of negotiating a favorable lease. Make it as easy as possible to weave your way to a tenant-friendly lease by knowing the different pieces of a lease to even the playing field.

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