One of the most important contracts you can sign as a small business owner is your commercial lease. But what if you sign the lease and then your circumstances change? Or you need to clarify certain terms of the lease?
The good news is that your lease terms may not be set in stone -- there are ways to amend a commercial lease. It will just take a little work between you and your landlord to negotiate any new terms.
Know the Lease
You can't tack on an amendment to your lease without knowing the exact lease terms first. (Well, technically you can, but it's not advised.) Hopefully you took our legal advice before renting office space, but if not, you should take this time to familiarize yourself with all the terms of the commercial lease.
Obviously the key terms are the rent and the term of the lease. But you should also know exactly what the rent covers, renewal terms, and any construction or modification restrictions.
Negotiate the Lease
You can negotiate a better commercial lease. But like all negotiations, it's going to have to work for the other party as well (in this case, your landlord). Getting more space or more freedom to modify the space may mean an increase in rent. And a decrease in rent may require some other concessions like a longer fixed lease term.
This is where knowing your lease comes in handy, as does having a good idea about where your business is headed. A well-planned future for your business makes present-day negotiating easier.
Updating the Lease
Once you've agreed to the new terms, updating the lease is fairly simple. You can draft an amendment, listing all parties and the affected lease terms. (It may be a good idea to re-write the amended sections of the lease as well.) Once the parties have signed off on the amended lease, it will remain in effect until the term expires or you amend it again.
Reading, negotiating, and re-writing a lease is a complex commercial and legal undertaking, and it may help to have an experienced commercial attorney review, advocate, and draft commercial lease amendments with you.
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