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Why do I need an attorney when signing a commercial lease?

If you are considering a commercial lease, especially in a structure that houses multiple commercial tenants, there are number of reasons that it is wise to consult an experienced attorney before signing anything. If you don't take advantage of every opportunity to work the agreement in your favor and identify potential problem areas, you may be signing an agreement that is very hurtful to you and your business.

Commercial leases do not all treat the terms of the lease or your base rent amount and the associated utilities, maintenance and taxes equally. Many times, a landlord is more willing to negotiate these issues if a tenant agrees to a lengthier lease term. In some cases, a landowner may want you to pay one fixed figure (that accounts for the cost of these expenses on average), or may require you to be responsible for all of these individually. This can become problematic if there is not a clearly defined list of responsibilities for the landlord, and measures you can take if he or she does not uphold those responsibilities.

Furthermore, your business (especially if it is franchise) may require or benefit greatly from modifying the space in some way. Of course, you must make sure that your lease allows you the latitude to make these kinds of modifications when you need them. Otherwise, you might find yourself stuck in a space your business cannot truly use.

These are only some of the most basic reasons why it is crucial to negotiate your lease before signing it. When you bring an attorney to the table, your potential landlord understands that you take the terms of your lease seriously, and in most cases, will be more willing to negotiate equitably. With proper guidance from a professional, experienced attorney, you can ensure that your business does not suffer necessarily from a poor lease agreement.

Source: FindLaw, "Negotiating a Lease for Commercial Real Estate," accessed May 18, 2017

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