When to Walk Away From a Lease Negotiation


Being able to walk away is tremendous leverage.

In any negotiation, you must always be willing to walk away. However, before getting into a situation where this is a possibility, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the ultimate goal in this negotiation?
  • How valuable or important is this deal to you?

In the case of a renewal where you don’t necessarily want to move, yet you have a space that may be better elsewhere, ask yourself:

“What value is there in moving and how much money am I needing to save in order to pack up and move somewhere else?”

Walking away from a lease negotiation is predicated upon your BATNA: the Best Alternative To No Agreement.

This means the offer you already have on the table is your BATNA- you cannot do any worse than that.

When you are negotiating with a landlord and they know that you have another offer that’s better than theirs, you already have a strong BATNA. In this case you immediately have the landlord’ attention. This can help you a great deal from the beginning as you now have the upper hand. At this point, if you get to where you see no other option, you can walk away with no regret or hesitation because you know you have an alternative agreement.

Never make a threat you are not willing to keep.

A lot of times, walking away can be a very powerful tool. However, you cannot make this claim if you are not willing to follow through with it. If you use it as a threat, you have to be willing to walk away. If you do walk away, this might very well change the landlord’ position. They might even give in to what you are seeking.

Sometimes, walking away seems like the only sensible option. For instance, if the other side of the negotiation gets emotional, is making threats, or is lying to you, this should tell you that you do not want to get further involved with these people.

Time is leverage.

TAG recommends starting the lease process far in advance, typically at least a year. This time immediately provides you with leverage, and gives you the advantage of being able to walk away without hesitation. You have the time to find another space or landlord elsewhere.

The only time you should not walk away is when you have to do the deal. This circumstance immediately puts you in a position where you have minimal leverage and no upper hand.


  • If you have 3 months left on your lease.
  • Or if you are growing and need more space ASAP.

If you wait too long, you will be closer to the lease expiration and the landlord will be gaining the upper hand because they know you can’t move by starting the process so late. If you do not start your search in advance, you have lost your leverage from the start.

So, use time to your advantage and you will have no problem securing a reasonable deal.

Goals and Motivations of Seeking New Space


While it is different for everyone, each reason and motivation is valid and worthy of attention.

What TAG has seen to be common goals and motivations are the following:

  • Higher quality space
    • Outgrowing space
    • Want greener, more productive space
    • More efficient space
    • Meeting space
    • Current space doesn’t work for their needs
    • Expanding physical activities (e.g., product testing)
    • Clients coming to the office, have to show respectable space
  • Employee retention
    • Co-locating with employees/ closer to employ base
    • Having a comfortable space that makes employees want to work in that space and environment
  • Convenience
    • To move to a space closer to the owner
    • Being closer to partners, customers, suppliers, employees/talent, resources
  • Location
    • Closer to public transportation
    • Near distribution channels
  • To save money