Thursday, July 19, 2007

Negotiating the Lease:

Everything is negotiable!

You have discovered the place that is perfectly in sync with the vision of your establishment. You have reviewed the offer sheet and are now moving into the lease stage. Negotiation 101, first day of class, always be the one to write the lease or proposal. Landlords, however will author the lease. The tenants are at a distinctive disadvantage from the beginning. The rules of game are as follows, landlord’s will put every term and nuance, into the lease to protect their position at no cost at them. Landlords will request that you guarantee the terms of the lease and payment of said terms, either as a security deposit or a letter of credit (A disclaimer, I have been a landlord and I have been a tenant, neither is any fun. I do not have a negative bias against landlords, they are simply protecting their investments and you should understand that). Having put every possible favorable term into the lease, the onus is on the tenant to review the lease, with legal counsel and change as many of the terms as possible, to get a favorable set of terms.

The negotiation process can take days, weeks or months depending on the complexity of the issues. The landlord’s underlying position is that the tenant be able to fulfill the terms of the lease. Landlords want a tenant that enhances the value of their space and provides a steady stream of uninterrupted income. Landlords have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the building for a group of investors or have substantial loan commitments that they must adhere to. Hence the very intensive process to insure the financial viability of the tenant.

Tenant’s underlying position is that the lease is supportable by the dynamics of the business. Negotiations do not always result in a deal. The best alternative to a negotiated settlement may indeed be that the tenant walks away. If you are not comfortable with any material aspect, the best decision, in fact the only decision is to walk away. There will be other deals.

Everything is negotiable!