Too often it seems that the true opportunities for great landlord/tenant relations get lost in lease negotiations. However, if all parties work together to “fast track” commercial lease contracts, the benefits lead to:
- Significantly lower legal fees: If you choose your attorney carefully, “reasonable” attorney fees when negotiating office leases range from $3,500 to $10,000, according to Kevin Hein, a partner with the Faegre & Benson law firm in Denver. Industrial leases are typically less.
- Working relationships: Lease negotiations are like the “speed dates” common in the 90’s. You will get to know what it’s like being married to your landlord. Brokers and attorneys often neglect the fact that this dating period sets the tenant up for a long-term relationship with a landlord that is important to your company’s success. How you allow your attorney and broker to act, says a lot to the landlord about what type of relationship he will have with you after the lease is signed.*
Certain steps can be taken to fast track commercial lease contracts for “win-win” results:
Use your leverage: First, have a detailed Letter of Intent (LOI) that provides business terms and key legal terms you truly care about. It is critical to push to have it executed by both parties before lease negotiations begin. Get it signed before the lease is delivered. We ask that the client’s attorney review the document to ensure that he will not need to renegotiate what has been agreed to during the “dating phase”.
Do not spend attorney fees on a landlord’s onerous lease: A landlord who is serious about tenant service, will uncomplicate matters and engender trust by using a simple lease. Landlords with the reputation of having modern leases and professionals who listen to the tenant’s concerns reap the benefits of having strong broker relationships. If a landlord gives you an onerous lease, do not let your attorney spend hours marking it up. Go back to the landlord and tell him why you feel she is setting herself up for a long and costly negotiation.
A little preparation goes a long way: Hold a pre-negotiation call and invite everyone—attorneys, principals, and brokers—to attend the call. This is rarely done on small deals, but it is extremely helpful. Use this as an opportunity to establish expectations for attorney turnaround time, legal budgets, approval processes and a goal for lease execution.
Develop a partnership framework that involves working with other stakeholders, such as the landlord’s broker and asset manager. They have a vested interest in getting the deal done with you. Having these allies in your corner helps fast track commercial lease contracts. Do not be shy in going direct to the landlord’s broker to ask for recommendations for getting around sticking points. You may be surprised at how helpful he will be.
* As a landlord, when I have to negotiate with an abusive broker or attorney, I think: “What a fool! Why burn bridges when your client will need so much help from the landlord once the deal is done?” Short-term posturing from brokers can establish bad working relationships for a long time.
For more information and to ensure all bases are covered, refer to the Prepared to Win-Win checklist that is available by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org