Negotiating with Landlords

Much like when you make a choice for where your family will live…the

choice of selecting an office space for your practice is equally important.

This office will be a reflection of your work and is the place where you

will see clients, work each day and hopefully, grow your business.


Every practice has different needs, landlords have different

requirements and the market varies based on region.


Last week, we took a look at the difference between subletting and

leasing with a focus on helping you determine which one will be the

best fit for you at this stage in your practice growth.


This week, we will take a look at a few key considerations you need to

keep in mind when negotiating a lease with your landlord:


Location, location, location…


Is your new office conveniently located with ease of accessibility for

your clients? Better yet, is the location convenient for you and your

commute from home? Is the office located on a busy street that might

compromise the sense of privacy your clients may enjoy when visiting

your space.


What’s Included?


Be sure to inquire about any costs above and beyond the fees associated

with your lease. You want to be completely aware of how to budget your

business:

  • Utilities

  • Internet Access

  • (Free) Parking

  • Trash Removal

  • Janitorial Services

  • Wheelchair accessibility is a requirement in our line of work

  • Snow removal if you live somewhere where that kind of thing matters

How do we deal with emergencies, breakdowns, power outages and

such?


Should there be a power outage or a mechanical breakdown is there a

maintenance team in place to handle those concerns? Depending upon the

size of the operation you are leasing from, there may be a significant

delay for repairs. Take an honest objective look at the condition of

the space you are considering. Is the space already in good

repairs…or do you foresee various breakdowns that could be

disruptive to your business?


What about availability/accessibility?


Are there days/hours when the office will not be available? Private

practices can sometimes keep non-traditional hours such as evenings and

weekends. If your business will need that flexibility, be sure to

inquire about accessibility after hours. This may also mean ensuring

that you have 24 hour access to the HVAC system. If you are working

late in the evenings or on weekends, you will absolutely want to have

access to climate control.


Who else is here? (Who Are Your Neighbors)


Inquire about the kinds of business that your landlord typically leases

to. My first landlord frequently rented to small churches. That was

good during the week because it was very quiet when no one was there.

But on Bible study night…there was a full accompaniment of

drumming, singing and foot traffic that was quite disruptive to my

clients. Get to know the other neighbors that will be sharing the space

with. Do they have businesses that are likely to be loud or have high

traffic?


What about security?


Speaking of those non-traditional hours…if you are going to be

alone in the building, you may have questions about security. Make a

point of becoming familiar with the office during the day, evening and

weekend hours. Before signing any leases, visit the neighborhood at

various times of the day.


What about your future plans?


While you are preparing to sign a lease is the perfect time to be

thoughtful about your future plans. Where do you see your business

in the next 3-5 years? Most landlords prefer long term leases and

are willing to provide a few additional perks like sound proofing

or preferential leasing terms if you are willing to commit for

longer time frames. Try to position yourself in the most

advantageous way without taking on too much risk…especially

if you are just starting out.


On the other hand, if all goes well and you are growing…can

you easily expand your office should you need additional space for

your practice? Inquire how the landlord will feel if you decide to

sublet your space. Just like subletting space may have worked for

you early on, it may work well for other business owners and can be

helpful as an additional source of income for the times when your

office is not completely in use.


Will you have creative freedom?


Will the office space you are considering allow you the creative

freedom to furnish, decorate and paint your space as you see fit?

Creating the environment in your private practice is key to setting

the tone for the work you will do with your clients. When properly

done, your office space has the power to help you establish rapport

with your clients.

Stay tuned next week for more information on how.


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