10 Questions To Ask Your Commercial Agent When Leasing Office Space

By Michael Austin

May 16, 2017   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

renting office space

When it comes to renting office space, you can never be too careful when signing a lease. Failure to do your due diligence can lead to problems. For instance, the wrong space can hurt your business if it’s difficult for your clients to access your building or if you don’t have the amenities they require.

To minimize the chances of these and other disasters occurring, consider taking benefits from professional property management and asking your commercial property managing agent the following questions:

What happens if the space isn’t ready by the expected move-in date?

Unless your office is ready, you can’t be sure that there won’t be any more problems. To avoid last minute problems, you should double check if your lease is clear about what can happen if your office space isn’t ready by the move-in date.

Read the fine print carefully. Watch out for any clauses that say your landlord can place you in a different office space within the building if your designated area is not yet ready by your moving in date. Being forced to occupy a temporary space will only magnify the costs and other issues associated with moving.

Does the lease come with an option to renew?

After your lease expires, the landlord is under no legal obligation to offer the same space to you – unless there’s a renewal clause in your lease. This guarantees that you will have first dibs on the space when the lease expires.

Will the landlord take on the cost of changes (like new carpet, special electrical needs, etc)?

new carpet

You will probably want to modify and update your new office space to meet your business’ specific requirements. In most cases, you will be responsible for these costs. But, there are some landlords who are willing to amortize the costs over the term of the lease so make sure to ask.

See Also: How Often Does A Landlord Have To Replace Carpet Or Repaint In Rental Unit?

How much traffic does the area get?

office space traffic

Is your building in a central location that’s close to train stations and airports to accommodate heavy business travelers or out of town clients? Depending on your business type, this may help determine the amount of traffic that you will receive. The agent should have information about community demographics, car counts and other essential statistics available.

Do you have “right of first refusal” if the space next to yours becomes vacant?

There are some instances when a tenant is faced with unexpected growth and, when that happens, there are some landlords that will move you to a larger space with no penalty. If there is a “right to refusal” clause in your lease, it will ensure that you get first dibs if any adjacent spaces become vacant.

Is it possible to secure a non-compete clause so that a competitor cannot open up shop in your center or building?

When renting office space, it’s a good idea to consider your business’ security first. Having a competitor in close distance can spell disaster for your business so check if there are zoning laws in place to protect your company. You can try to include a clause in the contract that forbids your landlord from leasing nearby office space to direct competitors. 

Is it possible to enter into a CAM Stop Lease?

A lot of leases today are triple net. For example, you’ll be responsible for paying the rent as well as a share of the property taxes and CAM fees for the property.

A Cam Stop Lease will ensure that you are only responsible for the increase in property taxes and CAM fees above your initial base year. You may also want to ask for a cap on the CAM so that it won’t increase by more than a certain percentage.

What happens if a major system (like electrical, plumbing, or HVAC) fails?

Agreements about repairs and renovations should be in writing and, in the best case scenario, come complete with a detailed floor plan and a cost estimate from a reputable contractor. But, it’s important to note that this standard is different from property to property.

Who is responsible for insurance?

When signing a lease for an office space, we tend to skip over insurance. And, as a result, a lot of buildings, especially those with several tenants, are coverable by insurance policies that are inadequate in some respects and overlap in others. Thus, if a major disaster occurs, like a fire, it can take years for the various insurance companies involved to check out the claims and decide where coverage begins and ends.

Will the office space meet your technology needs?

Most commercial properties offer tenants networking options like T1s, fiber, DSL and Cable. If your business will require a ton of bandwidth to successfully operate, make sure that the property has the infrastructure to support your needs.

Moving to a new commercial space can be a hassle. But, if you ask your commercial agent the aforementioned questions, it can take a lot of the headache out of the process. Good luck!

See Also: One Size Doesn’t Fit All: How Office Space Caters To Each Stage Of A Business Journey


Michael Austin

A blogger, personal finance enthusiast with slight “addiction” of planning and organizing whether it’s budget, business or just life in general. All this addiction evidences can be found as informative articles at his personal website awebtoknow.com.

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