Business owners, especially those first starting out, are certainly capable of reviewing leases provided by a prospective landlord. They usually feel that there is no point in having an attorney review the lease and attempt to negotiate the terms, believing that the landlord will not be amenable to changes. That is definitely not true. Most landlords are willing to be flexible in their lease terms, especially with respect to legal issues. Hiring an attorney for this purpose will, of course, incur an expense but quite often the financial savings obtained from a negotiated lease exceed the legal fee paid.
One of the most important provisions of a commercial lease is the provision that requires the tenant to pay a portion of the real estate tax increases and the common area maintenance. It is important, at the outset, for the tenant to get from the landlord documentation regarding the amount of these expenses, otherwise, the financial outlay may come as a huge surprise for the tenant. Another important provision has to do with the landlord/tenant’s responsibility to maintain certain systems in a building–i.e., electrical, plumbing, etc.– and to pay for certain repair expenses. Once again, what the lease states with respect to these items is of great concern. The ability of the tenant to sublease or to assign the lease, again, is vital, in case the tenant runs into some financial difficulties down the road.
Even for businesses which have existing leases in place, when it is time for the lease to be renewed, it makes a great deal of sense for an attorney to review it. He or she may find items in the original lease which should be changed and a landlord may indeed be amenable.
Of course, the attorney you retain to review your lease and/or to negotiate its terms should be experienced in this area of law.