Dynamic Chiropractic – June 17, 1994, Vol. 12, Issue 13

Office Leases

By Stanley Greenfield, RHU
One of the most important pieces of paper you will ever sign is your office lease. Yes, your marriage certificate is very important, but it's easier to get out of these days than a lease for office space.
There are a lot of things to remember to look at before you put your signature on the dotted line. By the way, that last line was in reference to an office lease, not getting married. Now that I think about it, maybe it does apply to both. Oh well, more on getting married later. Now let's continue our discussion on leases.

Before we even get into the particulars of the lease, a few reminders about some very practical aspects to consider before you even ask for a copy of the lease. Is this really an area where you want your office? What will your commute be like every day to and from the office? How about the commute for your employees? Is this a safe area for an office? Is it accessible to major roads and public transportation? You won't find these in a lease, but they are more important than any clause in a lease.

A basic rule for all leases: get it in writing. Yes, that one is even on the "Greenfield Rules of Economics": get it in writing. Never assume anything. For example, in a new office, who pays for such things as carpeting, painting, walls being leaded, and other improvements? Remember, get it in writing.

How much is the "core factor" in your space? What I am referring to is when you rent office space you have "rentable" space and "usable" space. The rentable is what you pay for, and the usable is what you can really use. The "core factor" can be as high as 15 percent of the space. You can't use it but you will pay for it.

All leases have a clause that allows the lessor to pass on to you increases in taxes and operating expenses for the building. Is there a limit on these increases? What about the increases in the lease each year? In other words, get it in writing.

What services are included in the lease? "HVAC." That stands for heat, ventilation, and air conditioning. Don't assume that they are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because they aren't. Find out if they are on when you need them. It's hard to adjust patients when your office is 90 degrees in August, or below freezing in February. Not a minor point. If you want these services on at special times, what will be the extra charges for them? Get it in writing.

Can the building lease the space next door to a poodle parlor or how about a massage parlor? Maybe even another chiropractor next door? Do you have any safeguards in the lease? Maybe you need some. Also look for recognition or nondisturbance clauses which protect you in case your landlord goes broke. Such clauses would allow you to continue your practice as usual under those circumstances. Again I will repeat, get everything in writing. Don't depend on a handshake or a verbal promise. Those are hard to enforce in a court of law.

Do yourself a favor and go over to the new site with a small notebook and just walk around the area. Make notes of anything that you see that you like and don't like. Is the property presentable? Is the parking adequate and convenient? Is the parking well lit for evening visits? Is the lobby clean and do the elevators work, or is there a long wait? Is there a directory that is in clear view for all newcomers to the office? Will your lease allow signs outside of the building? How are the bathrooms in the building? Do the cleaning crews do a good job of cleaning the building and picking up the trash?

The longer the lease you are willing to sign, the more improvements your landlord will be willing to do. You also need to educate your landlord about chiropractic. They need to understand what you do and the benefits of chiropractic. That's important, don't forget that.

Last but very far from least, have your attorney review your lease. It's a lot cheaper to have an attorney review it now instead of showing it to them for the first time when they are defending you in court.

Stanley Greenfield, RHU
125 Crofton Hill Ln.
Rockville, MD 20850

Click here for previous articles by Stanley Greenfield, RHU.


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