More often than not, the process of renewing an office lease is handled “on autopilot,” which generally leaves the tenant at a disadvantage. In most cases, the lessor is seasoned in the business, negotiates regularly, and knows when not to step in to provoke changes that might be less than ideal for their best interest. On the other hand, a tenant business typically negotiates a lease only once every three, five or 10 years. Even so, don’t underestimate the advantages of your position as lessee. Leveraging the essential tips offered below can give you the advantage you need in what could be an otherwise unbalanced equation.

1.      Clarify Your Needs

First, evaluate if and how well the current lease conditions have served the needs of your business. Use this short checklist to get started:

  • Is the space up to the standards of your employees?
  • Is the space up to the standards of your customers (if applicable)?
  • Would you need more or less space to operate optimally?
  • Has maintenance work been necessary during your lease? If so, has it helped or interfered with the smooth operation of your enterprise?

Focus on practical aspects of how the current arrangement has served your needs, as well as how satisfied you are with what you get for your money.

2.      Prepare Ahead

Importantly, don’t wait until the lease renewal term. Rather, take time beforehand to analyze the market for similar properties, similar lease agreements or location-specific trends for where your lease is located. Not only will a better understanding of relevant transaction metrics ensure that you’re more knowledgeable while discussing lease renewal terms, but if the process doesn’t properly address your renewal needs, then you’re also in a better position to lease another location under terms that serve your better. And, even if you’re more inclined to stay in your current location, entertaining other possibilities may also come in handy as leverage in your negotiations.

3.      Have a Dedicated Team

Enlisting the services of a professional tenant representation broker is integral to your success. In fact, a seasoned tenant representative is just as savvy at lease negotiation as your contract counterpart and can greatly contribute to your market know-how, as well as your scouting of other possibilities.

Likewise, bring in a real estate lawyer, as well. This person will be a powerful addition to your lease negotiation team and work with your tenant rep to iron out both business terms and legal issues. Leave no clause unevaluated and no tenant need unaddressed during this process.

While a dedicated team for this task is highly recommended, keep in mind that it’s also wise to limit it to a few, key personnel. This will reduce the risk of any critical information leaking during your renegotiation process. To that end, avoid getting personally involved in any of the discussion with your landlord. Instead, clarify and check in at every step with the team that you have chosen to represent you — but let them do the talking.

Finally, remember throughout the entire process that almost all terms and conditions of a commercial lease can be negotiated, regardless of whether your business is in talks over coworking, shared or traditional office space for rent. Investing time and other resources into clarifying a plan well ahead of time — as well as into utilizing professionals dedicated to the task — is bound to pay off to your satisfaction.

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