How Long Should You Stay in Your Commercial Lease?

Banking and Financial Institutions

By Banking and Financial Institutions

Lease Term, Renewal Options, Lease Purchase Options

Part 2 in Series – “10 Lease Traps & Tips for the Small Business Owner”

When contemplating new lease space, the small business owner understands the need for flexibility. The term, or length of time, you will remain in the leased space is a chief concern of any entrepreneur. You don’t want to be forced to look for new space after only a few years, on the other hand, you want to be able to leave if after a period of time you learn the space is not right for your business.

One of the most important aspects of a lease for the small-to-medium sized business owner is flexibility. How much space do you need? Will you grow? Was your initial assessment too ambitious?

Lease Term – Most commercial landlords will insist on a lease term of at least 3 – 5 years. Depending upon your industry, this very well could be a good place to start. For example, if you’re looking for office space, the initial investment on fixtures and other start up costs can be minimal; conversely, if your space is going to be used for heavy manufacturing, just getting the machinery situated can be a huge expense, warranting a longer term lease.

Renewal Options – The more the better. Renewal options allow you to choose to remain in a space, usually under the same lease terms, or to look for a new space after the term has expired. One term that often does change is rent. You’ll want to either include a percentage rental increase for the renewal term, attach the increase to a Consumer Price Index, or agree to negotiate using the future “market rate”. A renewal option doesn’t do you any good if you don’t exercise it per the lease’s requirements – be certain to develop a system to calendar the date by which you must provide notice to your landlord.

Lease Purchase Options – Sometimes it makes more sense for a tenant to own their space rather than pay rent. While this decision inevitabely involves important tax consequences, it allows you to test drive the property before buying. It also gives you the ability to build some equity towards the purchase price if the lease is properly negotiated; meaning, you need to make certain some portion of your monthly lease payment will be applied to the purchase price. The potential downside of a lease purchase option is that the landlord will probably make you pay a premium for it. Again, be certain to calendar the date by which you must give notice to landlord in order to exercise your option.

Part 1 in Series – “10 Lease Traps & Tips for the Small Business Owner”


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