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Review commercial leases carefully before signing

Finding a home for your business can be a real challenge. You might not be ready to buy a property, so you will have to find somewhere to lease. This is a bit different than residential leasing. Think about some different points as you are evaluating the possibilities for your company.

Your work is going to start before you even begin looking for a place to lease. Here are a few to get you started:

Know what you can afford

You need an honest budget. It is usually best to go a little below what you think you will be able to pay. Understand the type of lease is being offered. A net lease requires you to pay for utilities, maintenance, property taxes and insurance on top of the rental payment. A gross lease includes these expenses.

Determine what location you need

The location is important because of zoning issues and the needs of your business. You likely wouldn't want to put a large animal veterinarian office in the middle of an urban shopping center and a high asset divorce attorney's office probably wouldn't fare well in a remote, rural building. When you are considering the location, look at other factors like parking for customers or easy accessibility if you plan on having a lot of foot traffic.

Decide how long you want to be there

Some commercial leases are long-term. If you are starting your business or choosing a space that fits your company's space needs now, you might not want to be roped into a long lease. It won't be good for your business if you are stuck in a too-small or otherwise unsuitable space for five or 10 years. Make sure you review the renewal clauses in the document to determine what you need to do if you want to remain in the space past the initial lease terms.

Write out a list of must-haves

Think about what your company will need in the space. Will you need public restrooms, a loading dock or specialized wiring? Will your company need to be accessible for people with disabilities in order to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Are modifications to the space necessary? If there are necessary modifications, who is responsible for the cost and are they possible? Consider all of these when you are making a short list of properties.

Review the documents

All commercial leases are unique. When you are reviewing the paperwork for a potential space for your business, look at the responsibilities you have. These might include some maintenance and repair duties. If you can't or won't do these, it might be best to bypass the building. You should also check the termination clause to find out what can end it. Knowing how disputes will be handled is also a must for a commercial property.

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