A commercial lease is a binding agreement between landlord and tenant which sets out both parties’ obligations. The lease spells out terms and clauses for both landlord and tenant, so you, as the tenant, can better understand exactly what you’re entering into. Seeking out advice from trusted partners throughout your entire lease expiry process is smart, but when it comes to commercial office lease, advice from a tenant representative or legal advisor can help to ensure your lease agreement is favourable and fair.
All commercial leases include what is known as ‘essential terms‘. As the name suggests, these terms are essential to the contract, and without them, it may not exist at all. Essential terms are things like payment of rent, names of the parties involved and a description of the premises to be leased.
Outside of the essential terms, there are a number of clauses that can be included when it comes to your office lease. In this post, we will unpack six commercial lease clauses you can’t afford to NOT know about.
The option to sublease part of your property to a third party can be helpful if your company’s space requirements are likely to change over the course of your lease. For example, if your business is downsizing, subletting some of your space can support cash flow by making use of unused floor space.
The option to sublease will need to be written into your lease agreement from the outset. Know that your original lease remains in effect even when a new sublease has been signed.
Maintenance and repair obligations should both be set out in your commercial lease. Generally, as a tenant, you are responsible for the ‘rented premises’ like floors, walls, and fixtures, and are therefore required to repair and maintain them during your lease.
On the landlord side, maintenance and repairs to the structural parts of the premises, building systems, and common areas like lobbies or the lifts are usually included. Check your lease carefully though as sometimes these items can be inserted under the tenant’s obligations.
Including a ‘break clause’ allows you to terminate the commercial lease earlier than the specified term. Most break lease clauses include a notice period where you must let your landlord know of your intention to break the lease.
If your lease agreement doesn’t include a break lease clause, and you end up needing to leave your lease earlier than the anticipated term, you may be required to buy out the term of your lease, assign it to a third party or otherwise negotiate an early exit with your landlord.
A ‘make good’ clause is a standard inclusion in many commercial leases. The make good provision is negotiable but basically requires the tenant to return the premises back to their original condition, regardless of any improvements that have been made during the lease period.
Before you sign on the dotted line, ensure the make good clause is clear for both parties and you understand your obligations at the end of your lease. You’ll need to consider this additional cost when you decide whether to move at the end of your lease.
Furthermore, complete a thorough condition report including photos and videos of the office at the start of your lease. This will help you to avoid nasty surprises at the end of your lease agreement by providing clear evidence of the original condition of the premises.