Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}During 30 years in the business, I’ve never heard a tenant ask, “How would I get out of this lease if I no longer need the space?” And that question needs to be asked when entering a lease. Many companies neglect to plan for a possible shift in their real estate requirements. A firm might need to close parts or all of its operations due to an economic slowdown or industry shift. On the other hand, it may need to expand if business is booming. Certain lease language could prevent a company from expanding in its existing building — forcing a costly relocation.

Tenants must plan for the unimaginable, so it’s wise to keep as many options open as possible. Pay close attention to lease language concerning “use,” “parking” and “assignment and subletting.” Negotiate to keep the “use” as broad as possible, even if the company only needs space for “general office use.” Also, secure as much free parking as possible, whether it’s needed or not. Afuture expansion or decision to assign more employees to work in less square footage would make extra parking a plus. For example, we represent a 17,000-square-foot technology company in Dallas that needs another 5,500 square feet. The company next door was marketing 9,000 square feet for sublease, but my tenant could not take any of the space because that company’s lease prohibited subleasing to another tenant in the building. My tenant was prevented from expanding in place, even though no other square footage was available in the building.

Subletting Language
The lease’s assignment and subletting language is key to a tenant’s flexibility. Subleasing may be a firm’s only option if its real estate needs change, but many companies overlook this portion of the lease and discover costly roadblocks to subleasing space. The following sublease information could save the day if that bridge needs to be crossed: Tenants need to plan for future successes or slowdowns and not be singularly focused on the status quo. Business shifts are often unimaginable to the tenant at the beginning of a lease term, but planning for them is as important as negotiating any other element in the agreement. Forward-thinking companies design their space in such a way that it can be easily divided in the future to create functional space for two parties. This is not always easy to do and takes some extra planning, but if companies truly need flexibility, it is worth the extra time and effort.