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What Should Your Commercial Lease Include?

May 30, 2012

California small business owners routinely sign their commercial leases without any legal guidance. However, any Sacramento small business attorney would strongly caution against it. The modern small business lease, depending on the space to be leased, may include a host of complicating factors you may not encounter in a typical residential lease.

Spell it out

Your leased space is your business's most important asset. It connects your products and services with your potential customers. What many business tenants fail to think about, however, is what the lease includes beyond the actual square footage to be leased.

For example, a business owner will want to be exceptionally clear about their retail space's access to things like common walkways, parking, and utility services. Additionally, a business owner may want to be clear about his or her right to post advertisements for the business in the common areas of a retail center. Whatever the circumstances, it is imperative for the lease to provide an accurate and detailed description of the property to be leased, including the condition of the structure and anything within the structure that is to be included with the space.

In addition to the physical and artificial boundaries, you will want to be clear about your business's responsibility for utilities like phone, internet, electricity, and water. In some cases, business owners mistakenly agree to take on responsibility for certain maintenance, insurance costs, and property taxes. A California small business lawyer can make sure the language accurately reflects your understanding and expectations for the property, and can protect your rights against an over-imposing landlord.

Think Beyond the Space

Renting business space differs from renting residential space primarily because business space is designed to invite members of the public onto the premises. As a result of this public access, a number of federal regulations can apply to your ability to use the space to conduct business. For example, the Americans With Disabilities Acts (ADA) prescribes certain standards for access to retail environments for those with impaired mobility. If the lease is not specific as to the landlord's responsibility for the cost of ADA compliance measures, your business could be on the hook for those costs. Failure to comply may restrict the free operation of your business or halt all business operations entirely until compliance is achieved.

Also, your business may want to negotiate with the landlord for additional rights and protections. For example, if your business is to open its doors in a strip mall or shopping center, you may want to negotiate a provision in which the landlord promises not to rent any other nearby space to a competitor of yours.

Finally, you will want to ensure that the zoning regulations that attach to the leased property will not interfere with your business practices. If the property is not already zoned for your brand of business, you will want the lease to include provisions about who is responsible for the cost and effort of obtaining the proper zoning licenses.

The world of commercial leasing can be difficult to navigate. A Sacramento commercial real estate attorney can help a business owner protect his or her rights by negotiating and drafting a lease that is fair to both your business and your landlord.

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Kristina Reed handled the legal work of creating a corporation for my photography business in the state of California. She was extremely professional to work with and very prompt in her response times. She explained everything in language I could understand and helped me navigate the process smoothly from start to finish. I was very happy with her services and will definitely return to her for any future needs! Amy W.
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As the co-owner of a small business, the process of selling assets was overwhelming. It was great to have [Kristina Reed's] advice throughout every step of a very demanding and hectic process. We were very pleased with [Kristina Reed's] class, focus and approachability. [Kristina Reed] always acted as a valued associate to the company and became a reliable advisor. Furthermore, we thank [Kristina Reed] for [her] calm encouragement when it was most needed would recommend [her] expertise unequivocally. Todd S.
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I'm extremely impressed with my experience with Kristina Reed. I used her services to negotiate a commercial lease in Folsom. Our agent had actually recommended a few attorneys to us but we didn't feel comfortable with any of them. I was very impressed with Kristina on our first conversation. The landlord group was one of the hardest you can find to deal with. There were lots of going back and forth but Kristina's knowledge and experience made my life very easy. She was always quick to get back to us whenever we have questions. She pointed out issues on my lease that my previous lawyer totally missed. I recommend Kristina's services to everyone I know. My friend just used Kristina's services for his lease negotiation in Davis and he was very impressed as well. Devin B.