8 Tips and Tricks for Commercial Tenants

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As a broker, I’ve seen it all: The good, the bad and the ugly. From hidden fees to poorly constructed buildings, many of these “headaches” can easily be avoided – so long as you know what to look for. If you’re going into any lease or purchase, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. When you begin going on-site to look at properties, here are a few tips and tricks I’d recommend for a smoother leasing process:

1. Fight the Fees: Move in fees. Application fees. Fees on top of fees. One of the great parts of realty, is the fact that many of these things are negotiable. Once you’ve decided on a place, don’t get struck by additional costs. $200 here, $500 there all start to add up. When signing a contract make sure there are no hidden costs or fees that you aren’t comfortable with.

2. Don’t Ignore the Small Print: If you’re buying a space, your attorney will review these documents. However, many people who rent or lease may not have that luxury. Be sure to read over your entire contract, and don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve done so.

3. Get in Writing: While touring a property, you may speak with the landlord about fixing possible issues, but that means absolutely nothing unless it’s on paper. By keeping track of emails, you’re able to cover yourself if there’s a dispute down the road. Add all fixes or changes in the rental agreement prior to signing anything.

4. Take photos before moving in: Even if the place you’re renting is gigantic, it’s important to take pictures or notes about the building condition. Small dents and cracks can always add up once you move out. Before signing your contract, make sure your landlord is aware of any issues that exist before you move in. This will help ensure that you receive your full deposit back.

5. Tenant’s Insurance: Tenant’ insurance is a great way to get protection from storms or break-ins. Insurance is usually fairly cheap to purchase, and can be incredibly helpful if something catastrophic happens. Additionally, see what insurance protection your landlord has before deciding on coverage.

6. Ask your agent or broker for advice: One of the roles your agent or brokerage firm is playing is that of a trusted advisor. They are the experts in their field, so don’t hesitate to ask them about their advice regarding fees, locations, or prices. It’s in an agent’ best interest to help you find the perfect place and keep you happy. In doing so, they can continue to get positive referrals down the road.

7. View a place more than once: Don’t fall head-over-heels immediately. While a property may initially seem perfect, take your time when making a decision. After viewing your “dream property,” go back a few days later and revisit the place. There may have been issues you had overlooked in the beginning. Additionally, be sure to view multiple places – this will give you a good idea as to what other properties have to offer.

8. Check local police reports: Agents or brokerage firms aren’t allowed to talk about the other tenants or the safety of neighborhoods. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do research. Look at local police reports or run a quick Google search to see if there has been any criminal activity in the area. Also, check to see if the building’s windows or doors have been broken – this can give you clues to see if the building is a potential hotspot for break-ins.

These are just a few tips and tricks I would recommend doing when you’re in the process of leasing a place. Your agent should be able to give you good advice and recommendations, but you also bear some of the responsibility yourself.

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