Office space leaser, beware: How well do you know your commercial landlord?
If you’ve ever leased office space, you know how important your background is to a prospective landlord. They often want to know your income, credit score, and the contact information of several people who can vouch for you.
But did you ever think to turn the tables on a prospective landlord? When you’re entering into a commercial lease, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching the person or company from whom you’ll be renting, because their reputation should be every bit as important to you as yours is to them.
What you should know
Here are some basics you’ll want to know about your commercial landlord or property manager before your business moves in.
- Who is the landlord?
It may seem like an obvious question, but it’s one that shouldn’t go unasked. Who is the individual (or who are the individuals) behind the name? Are they local or are they “managing” your property from afar? Will you be dealing with a bank, a large corporation, or an actual person? And will they, or a representative, be immediately accessible in the event of an emergency? Doing a little digging on who – and where – your landlord is can save you a lot of hassle down the line.
- How does your landlord rate on office maintenance and repair?
This question applies to proactive and reactive maintenance and repair work. As you walk through the property, you should take notes. Does the landlord keep systems and machinery in good working order? Are the parking lots well maintained and well lit? Is the interior clean, attractive and odor free? A landlord that takes pride in his or her office buildings preserves their value, builds stronger landlord-tenant relations, and ultimately adds credibility to your business.
- How does your landlord stand in the community?
Good news may travel fast, but bad news travels faster. That’s why it’s good to know what others think and say about your prospective landlord. Does the landlord have a reputation for being fair and honest with his/her commercial tenants? Do they attract the kinds of businesses you want to be associated with? Are they active in professional organizations, charities and volunteer efforts in your community? Their involvement in and contribution to your community shows they care about making it better and stronger for those who work in it.
How you can find out about your prospective landlord
There are many ways to get the skinny on commercial landlords and property managers. Here are a few of the easiest and least expensive.
- Contact local business organizations
Check with your local chamber of commerce and your regional Better Business Bureau and see if there have been any problems with or complaints against your prospective landlord.
- Conduct a good “old-fashioned” Google search
If you haven’t already, fire up the computer and do an online search on your prospective landlord and your prospective new office address. Look for articles, reviews and ratings on the property or owner. Whether they’re good or bad, they’re sure to tell you an awful lot.
- Interview current tenants
Before you sign a lease, interview the experts – that is, your prospective landlord’s current tenants. Let them know you’re considering space in the building, and ask them questions about repairs, parking, rent, fees, and responsiveness. Existing corporate tenants might have sage advice to offer you before you make a decision.
Good landlords not only won’t mind that you’re doing a little pre-deal fact checking, they’ll expect you to do a little pre-deal fact checking.
“We have a fairly comprehensive sit-down with all of our prospective tenants. It’s as much about them learning all about us as it is us learning all about them,” says Andy Anderson, partner at The Anderson Group. “We encourage questions and we will gladly help facilitate conversations with new and longstanding tenants. Reputable commercial landlords and property management companies have nothing to hide.”
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