Leasing retail real estate space can be a major decision for any business owner. It’s important to fully understand the terms and conditions of the lease before signing on the dotted line. Ensure that the space aligns with your business goals and requirements—this will be paramount to your success.

Before committing to a large financial decision such as leasing a retail space, asking the right questions is key. By doing your due diligence, you can avoid potential issues and ensure that you’re making the best decision for your business. The last thing you want is to find yourself locked into a lease that doesn’t meet your needs or worse, poses unforeseen challenges.

Signing a lease is a long-term commitment and it’s essential to have all necessary information about the property beforehand. Doing thorough research and asking relevant questions will not only help you make an informed decision but also protect you from any surprises or unexpected costs. You want to enter into this agreement with your eyes wide open, ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

Below, we’ll discuss some important questions to ask before deciding to lease retail real estate so that you can be well-prepared when considering different properties. From understanding the terms of the lease agreement to evaluating the location’s foot traffic, these questions will empower you to make the most strategic choice for your business’s future.

1. What are the terms for the lease?

It’s crucial for potential retail real estate tenants to fully understand the terms and conditions that go hand-in-hand with leasing the retail space. These terms can greatly impact your business and finances, so it is important to ask the landlord or leasing agent about them ahead of time.

It may seem straightforward but always find out about the length of the lease. Most commercial leases are long-term commitments ranging from anywhere between 3-10 years. Make sure you know exactly how long you will be tied to this space before signing on.Find out if there are options for renewal or any termination clauses within the lease agreement. Understanding your flexibility in extending or ending the lease can provide peace of mind and adaptability as your business evolves. We’ll dig deeper into this later in the article.

Beyond the duration, delve into the specifics of the lease terms. Ask about rental increases over the lease period and whether they are fixed or subject to negotiation. Inquire about any restrictions or limitations imposed by the lease, such as signage regulations or usage restrictions, to ensure they align with your business plans and operations.

Don’t overlook crucial details like security deposits, insurance requirements, and any additional fees or expenses associated with the lease. Being fully informed about the financial obligations associated with the retail real estate lease can help you budget effectively and avoid any financial surprises during your tenancy.

2. What utilities are included in the rent?

Inquiring about the utilities included in the rent is an important aspect to consider before signing a lease for retail real estate space. This information can greatly impact your monthly expenses and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Some landlords may include all utilities in the rent, such as electricity, water, gas, and internet. This fixed rental price makes budgeting easier for business owners as they know exactly how much they will be paying each month. However, it’s important to clarify if there are any limits or restrictions on the usage of these utilities.

On the other hand, some leases may require tenants to pay for their own utilities separately from the rent. In this case, you will need to factor in these additional costs when considering your overall budget for operating your business in that particular space.

It’s also essential to ask about who handles setting up and paying for utility services at the start of your lease term. Some landlords may take care of this process while others may require tenants to handle it themselves.

You should also find out about any potential fluctuations in utility prices during your lease term. Ask whether there is a cap on how much these prices can increase or if there are any clauses that protect you from unexpected spikes in cost.

Understanding which utilities are included in the rent and what responsibilities fall onto you as a tenant is crucial when leasing retail real estate space. Don’t hesitate to ask detailed questions so that you clearly understand what you’ll be responsible for financially throughout your tenancy.

3. How is the rent amount calculated?

Before beginning a retail real estate lease, you should know how the rent amount is calculated. This will give you a better understanding of what factors contribute to the overall cost of your lease and can help you budget accordingly.

One method of calculating rent for commercial spaces is through a base rent plus operating expenses. Base rent refers to the fixed monthly or annual cost that covers the use of the physical space itself. Operating expenses, also known as triple net (NNN) charges, are additional costs that cover things like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees.

It’s important to clarify exactly what operating expenses are included in this calculation. Make sure they align with what was discussed during your initial negotiations with the landlord or leasing agent.

Some leases may also include percentage rents on top of base rent and operating expenses. This means that in addition to paying a set amount each month, tenants are required to pay a certain percentage of their sales revenue as well.

Understanding how your rental rate is determined can help you negotiate more effectively and determine if it aligns with similar properties in the area. It’s always a good idea to research market rates for comparable retail spaces so that you have an idea of whether or not you’re getting a fair deal.

4. Will the rent be increased?

This goes hand in hand with the last question—understanding the potential for rent increases is an important aspect to consider for retail real estate tenants. These increases can significantly impact your monthly expenses.

Before signing a retail real estate lease, find out if any clauses allow for rent increases over time. Some leases may include annual increases based on factors such as inflation or market conditions. It’s important to have a clear understanding of how these increases will be calculated and when they will take effect.

It’s also essential to inquire about the frequency of potential rent hikes. Will there be annual or bi-annual adjustments? Knowing this information can help you plan and budget accordingly.

Lastly, find out if there are any caps on how much the rent can increase each year. This will give you an idea of the maximum amount you could potentially pay in future years so that there are no surprises later on.

5. Can the lease be renewed when it expires?

Another important aspect to consider before signing a lease for retail real estate space is the potential for lease renewal. This will give you an idea of how long you can expect to be in that particular location and if there are any opportunities for negotiation when it comes time to renew.

You should get familiar with the process for renewing the lease when it expires. Will there be an automatic renewal or do you need to initiate negotiations? Make sure to clarify any deadlines or procedures for requesting a renewal.

It’s also essential to find out if any terms or conditions in place could prevent a renewal or make it more difficult. For example, some leases may include “relocation clauses” which allow landlords to move tenants within their building or complex at their discretion during a renewal period.

6. Is the property insured, who’s responsible for the insurance?

Understanding the insurance coverage for a retail real estate property is a key aspect to consider. This can greatly impact your financial responsibilities as a tenant, so always discuss this upfront.

It’s a good idea to find out who holds the insurance policy for the property. In most cases, landlords will have their own insurance policies in place to cover the building and any common areas. However, it’s important to clarify if there are any additional insurance requirements for tenants such as liability or business interruption coverage.

Next, ask which types of events are covered under the landlord’s policy. Natural disasters like floods or earthquakes may require separate coverage that could potentially fall on you as a tenant.

You should also inquire about your responsibility for insuring any improvements or renovations made to the space during your tenancy. Will these upgrades be covered under the landlord’s policy or do you need to obtain separate coverage?

It’s also essential to understand how much liability coverage is included in the landlord’s policy and if it aligns with industry standards. If not, you may want to consider obtaining additional coverage through your own business insurance.

In case of accidents or damages occurring within your leased space, clarify whether you are responsible for filing claims with both your personal insurance provider and the landlord’s insurer.

7. Who owns the industrial property?

Have you spoken directly with the owner of the property before signing the lease? Knowing who owns it can have implications on your rights as a tenant and any potential limitations or restrictions.

First things first—find out if the landlord actually owns the property or if they are acting as a representative for an owner. In some cases, landlords may be managing properties on behalf of investors or corporations.

Are there multiple owners involved in the property and how decisions will be made regarding maintenance, upgrades, and other matters that could impact your tenancy? It’s important to know who you will need to communicate with in case issues arise.

8. How long has the property been owned by the landlord?

Your retail real estate lease should outline how long the property has been owned by the landlord. If not, it’s a good idea to ask, as this can give you insight into their level of experience and stability as a property owner.

If the landlord has owned the property for a significant amount of time, it may indicate that they have a good understanding of managing and maintaining commercial properties. They may also have established relationships with tenants and vendors, which could potentially benefit you in terms of services and support.

On the other hand, if the landlord is relatively new to owning commercial real estate, they may still be learning about industry standards and best practices. This could result in potential challenges or delays when it comes to addressing maintenance issues or negotiating lease terms.

Understanding their experience as a landlord isn’t all—finding out how long they have owned this specific property can also provide valuable information. If they recently acquired the property from another owner, it’s worth asking why they decided to purchase it and what changes (if any) are planned for the future.

Keeping all of these tips in mind will help you consider any potential risks associated with short-term ownership of a property. If there was frequent turnover among previous owners, this could be an indication that there are underlying issues with the building or its location that may impact your tenancy.

Finally, knowing how long the landlord has owned the industrial property can give you an idea of their investment goals and plans for its future. They may be more likely to make necessary updates or improvements if they plan on holding onto it for many years versus just trying to quickly flip it for profit.

9. What’s the vision for the future of the property? Improvements? Is it for sale?

For potential retail real estate tenants, knowing the future of the industrial property is essential. Understanding the landlord’s vision for potential improvements or updates to the space can make or break the success of your business. Are they committed to maintaining and enhancing the property? This will ultimately impact your business operations.

Ask about any planned renovations or upgrades that may affect your tenancy, such as changes to common areas, building facades, or the parking lot. Find out if these improvements will be solely funded by the landlord or if they expect tenants to contribute financially.

If they do plan to complete renovations in the future, will there be any potential disruptions during construction periods? If so, how do they plan on minimizing their impact on your business? Will there be alternate routes for deliveries? Will there be temporary closures of certain areas? These details are all necessary to make alternate plans and adjustments ahead of time to prevent a loss of sales.

In addition to discussing improvements and expansions, ask about their intentions regarding selling the industrial property in the future. Knowing if they have plans on selling can give you insight into their level of commitment towards maintaining a stable tenant base versus making a quick profit through a sale.

If they do plan on selling at some point, clarify how this would potentially affect current tenants’ leases and whether there are any clauses addressing this scenario in your agreement.

10. Who pays for property improvements?

One final but highly important aspect to clarify before deciding to lease retail real estate is who will be responsible for funding any necessary property improvements. These can range from minor repairs and maintenance tasks to major renovations or upgrades.

In most cases, the landlord will be responsible for covering the costs of property improvements. This is typically outlined in the lease agreement and may include a specific budget or cap on expenditures.

However, there are some instances where landlords may expect tenants to contribute financially towards certain improvements. For example, if a tenant requests customizations or additions to their leased space that go beyond what is considered standard building specifications, they may be required to cover these expenses.

It’s crucial to fully understand your responsibilities as a tenant when it comes to property improvements to avoid any unexpected costs or misunderstandings down the road. Make sure this information is clearly outlined in your lease agreement before signing.

It’s equally important to discuss how decisions regarding property improvements will be made between you and the landlord. Will they consult with you before making any changes? Will there be opportunities for input or negotiation? Clarifying these details can help ensure that both parties are on the same page when it comes to maintaining and enhancing a retail space.

Additionally, find out if there are any limitations on what types of improvements can be made by either party. For instance, some landlords may have strict guidelines on exterior signage placement while others may allow more flexibility for tenants’ branding purposes.

Inquire about how often property inspections will take place and whether you will receive notice beforehand. This can give you an idea of how proactive the landlord is in maintaining their properties and addressing potential issues before they escalate into larger problems that could impact your tenancy.

Lastly, make sure that all agreements regarding property improvements are documented in writing within your lease agreement or through separate written agreements signed by both parties. This helps prevent disputes over responsibilities and expectations later on during your tenancy period.

Final Words on Leasing Retail Spaces

When considering leasing retail real estate space, it’s important to ask the right questions to fully understand the property and get to know the landlord you’ll be entering into a lease agreement with.

Always clarify responsibilities and anything that you can upfront to prevent misunderstandings or extra expenses from coming up later on.

By asking these 10 questions outlined in this article, you can ensure that both parties are on the same page when it comes to managing and improving the retail real estate space during your tenancy period.

Make sure all agreements are documented in writing within your lease agreement or through separate written agreements signed by both parties to prevent disputes later on. With a thorough understanding of these details, you can confidently enter into a leasing agreement that aligns with your business needs.

Contact US
Contact Us

Ready to talk about your commercial real estate needs? Fill out the form and we will be in touch.