I am in the process of moving out of my home office and renting commercial space.
I found a place nearby that I really like. It's clean, well-kept, and has plenty of room for myself and two employees, has a great view of main street, and the price is competitively priced for this area (only $375/month). There is only one other office for rent in the area - it's a little more expensive and the building is pretty run-down.
Bottom line: I want this office.
My problem: I was a little overwhelmed by the lease paperwork. It was 9-pages, tiny-print, all big legal words, and there were things that didn't make sense. So I showed it to my lawyer friend before I signed anything. He read it over and said I was right to be concerned about a number of things.
examples of problems:
There are many more "shady" points, but you get the idea.
My lawyer tells me to simply tell him all the things I want changed and have him re-write the lease. That's easy for him to say - I can't imagine this guy is going to scrap his lease and re-write 20+ parts for me.
1) Go down the street to the more expensive office in the run-down building.
2) Approach the landlord with a laundry list of things I need him to change in the lease. (He doesn't seem like a patient man, I think he's going to tell me to sign it or walk away.)
3) Just sign the thing so I can finally move in and get back to my business.
I am a little overwhelmed right now and I'd appreciate any thoughts on my situation. Thanks.
You already have the correct legal advice, now use it.
Take the lease and cross out anything you don't like.
Add in all the things that your lawyer says are missing. (Type up a page or more in Word).
Set your own maximum fees for things he mentions but doesn't price out. Your rent should cover maintenance- so set that item to zero.
Set your own reasonable late fees.
Give him that contract. He can either accept it, negotiate, or tell you to walk.
You lose nothing by doing this.
The biggest lesson I have learned in my career (as a serial entrepreneur!) is to trust my gut.
It seems from your writing that you are concerned about this guy so be careful.
Having said that it does not seem like there are many options.
Ask to see copies of the last few quarterly bills so you can see how much they are.
Ask who is responsible for ice/snow.
Late fees are what they are, if you are not going to be late don't worry about those.
Liability and liability insurance seems to be the biggest problem here, have a discussion with him about it and find out why there is the seemingly double insurance and also ask are you responsible for accidents within your office walls or outside your office walls?
If he is not reasonable about it I would take that as a big red flag.
Also consider these questions: what is the length of the lease? What is the notice period? What is the deposit?
I ask those questions because if worst comes to worst and you have to move out how bad off would you be?
Hope that helps!
Number 2 sounds reasonable.
Let him know you want the office. Also tell him this is a first lease for you and you'd appreciate his time to answer several questions about the terms of the lease.
Obtaining liability insurance is standard for all leases. Many of the questioned items (like late fees) are there to protect landlords from the all-to-common deadbeat tenant. Landlords want to make it clear they are not there to help fund your start-up! As long as you're a stand up guy, they don't matter.
It is very reasonable to know what your cleaning & common fees will run. He should be able to provide in writing a current/historical amount and a percentage growth cap.
If you can work the lease out, you get your office. If you can't arrive at an equitable agreement, you'll be able to walk away with a clear knowledge that this was not the type of landlord you're wanting to dealing with.
Go with #2 definitely. The nice thing is that the lease is only 9 pages. Most leases are 20 to 40 pages long. Offices leases are typically going to be one of a company's top 3 expenses so do everything you can to negotiate not only the renal rate but also the actual lease contract, and be prepared to walk away if you do not feel comfortable with the deal. Your total monthly and yearly costs should be clearly defined so you are not surprised later on. General liabilty and property insurance will be always be required by landlords.