Checklist for renting commercial properties

Written by melissa hopkins
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Checklist for renting commercial properties
Seek legal advice before signing a commercial lease agreement. (empty offices image by A74.FR Ben Fontaine from

Renting a commercial property is one of the biggest expenses and most important decisions you will make as a business owner. This complex process requires a number of serious considerations that go beyond the standard residential lease considerations, like the length of the lease, monthly rent amount and how to get back your security deposit. By understanding some of the essential differences between renting commercial and residential properties, you can begin to develop a checklist of important questions to ask and crucial points to negotiate before signing a business lease.


Choosing a location to rent a commercial property is more complicated than it may seem. Zoning laws determine what type of business you can operate in a specific area. Make sure the commercial property is zoned for your business. Look for clauses, often included in commercial leases, that prevent the landlord from moving a competitor right next door, as this could significantly affect your market share. In addition, make sure there are no local restrictions on erecting business signs, especially if your business relies on foot traffic.

Business Licenses and Building Codes

Before signing any commercial lease, you need to know the building codes and licensing requirements for your business. If your business involves the preparation of food, producing beverages, offering medical services, fixing cars or even cutting hair, you may need a special state or federal business license requiring inspection of your location, according to Make sure your location is up to code or can be brought up to code affordably before signing a business lease.

Commercial Vs. Residential

The difference between signing a business lease and a residential lease is significant. Responsibility for repairs, building maintenance, property taxes and insurance may be charged to the tenant in a commercial lease. Commercial leases lack the tenant and consumer protections of residential leases and are also usually several years in length. This can make a mistake in negotiating a commercial lease quite costly, warns

Additional Considerations

Renting a commercial property and negotiating the best deal on the lease can be very complicated. While tenants leasing a business location have more leeway in negotiating favourable lease terms, the same leeway makes it easier for the landlord to take advantage. Consult an attorney who specialises in business leases and commercial properties to ensure that your business is protected, suggests the Small Business Administration.

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