A commercial lease doesn't just protect the interests of landlords. The document also spells out rights for tenants. Knowing what your rights are empowers you to address issues with your landlord and to take legal actions as needed to resolve disputes.
1. Notice of Eviction
If you default on the lease, the landlord has the right to end the contract and remove your company from the premises. That doesn't mean they can show up suddenly and demand that you vacate. A commercial lease will give you the right to a notice of eviction, which must be delivered a certain number of days before the actual eviction date.
2. Permitted Use
The permitted use clause spells out the activities that you are able to perform in your office space or the building that you rent. Your landlord cannot come to you in the future and tell you that you can no longer use the space in a way that is mentioned in the lease. For example, if the lease says your company may conduct sales that require customers to visit your location, your landlord cannot ban visitors from entering the building.
3. Renewal Options
Renewal clauses protect your company from being forced to move at the end of the lease. Provided that you follow the procedure outlined in the lease, the clause requires the landlord to give you a chance to renew the contract before offering it to any other prospective tenants.
4. Sublease and Assignment
Sublet and assignment clauses are not included in every lease, but whenever possible, tenants should negotiate to have them added. The rights to sublet and assign help to ensure that companies can make use of unneeded space in the event that their business needs change in the future. When you sublet, you retain control of the lease and a secondary tenant pays for all or part of the rent. With an assignment, the new tenant assumes the lease, and your company is able to walk away.
5. Equality and Nondiscrimination
Federal laws require that landlords not discriminate on the basis of national origin, disability, sex, color, race, religion or familial status. These laws also protect the interests of companies.
6. Health and Safety
Your landlord has a responsibility to keep the building and your office space in a condition that allows you and your employees to work safely and remain in good health. You have the right to request that repairs be done to improve issues that pose health and safety risks.
7. Interruption of Business
Commercial leases should stipulate that the landlord cannot interrupt your company's daily business to make routine repairs or improvements. In the event of an emergency, the landlord may take actions that require your business to partly or completely close.
Keep in mind that commercial leases vary, and the language used impacts the rights available to you as a tenant. That's why it's important to have an attorney review a lease before you sign and to have a tenant rep broker act as your advocate during lease negotiations. Never sign a lease that requires you to waive key rights, such as the right to take your landlord to court.
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