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Commercial Leases: Large Legal Steps for Your Business

Whether you are expanding, starting from scratch or making the move from home-based business to corporate office, a commercial lease agreement is likely in your future. Commercial leases can be quite different from the document you signed for your first — or current — apartment. Property owners who rent to businesses often have numerous stipulations, and you can risk the security and success of your business if you choose the wrong location or don’t understand your lease.

Commercial leases might limit what type of activity can take place in a location. First, zoning laws might require that property owners limit business activity. Some areas can’t be used for retail activity, for example, and others might feature restrictions regarding industrial or food service use. Choosing a location that allows for current and future business activities is important.

You might find that your commercial lease addresses on-premise advertisement, such as signage. Signage might be restricted, or you might have to comply with certain size, color or design requirements. Signage restrictions can make it difficult to create a brand image; they can also increase the costs of signs at your location if leases require more expensive sign materials or designs.

Commercial leases might also address how many people can be on or in the premises at a time, what type of traffic is allowed at the location, where and how you and your customers must park, what maintenance the property owner is responsible for and what type of security is offered. By understanding your business needs — and thinking far enough into the future to predict location needs — you can ensure provisions in a lease are in line with your business goals. Working with a professional to negotiate and review a lease reduces the likelihood that you experience lease-related surprises.

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