Top Ten Tips For Renting A Commercial Lease

Top Ten Tips For Renting A Commercial Lease

Danelle Hunter, Managing Director, Biggin & Scott Knox

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For many businessmen and women, finding the perfect office space can prove a challenge. How do you find the perfect balance between location, price and meeting your team needs? Many consider the moment you have to move to an office a step in the right direction for the growth of your business. However, given that rent can be similar to that of hiring a staff member it’s important to make sure you enter into your lease agreement with the right information under your belt. Should you choose a tenancy that includes all amenities or go with a more flexible option that even allows for specific fit out. Our expert Danelle Hunter, Managing Director at Biggin & Scott Knox has seen it all and has some great tips for securing the perfect commercial lease.

1. If your business relies on foot-traffic then you’ll want to find the right location that stands out to the public. It’s also a good idea to scan the location for scheduled roadworks. I knew of a business once that relied heavily on foot traffic for sales through the door. After many years of successfully running their business, a new road development that included building a tram stop right outside their front door spelled a death knell for sales and the foot traffic they relied so heavily upon. This is why I always advice future lessees to be aware of any future planned developments for the area. The last thing you want is a new bus stop being built right outside your front door! Make sure you are visible and have excellent signage.

2. The longer the lease the better. If you have been running your business successfully for a number of years and know that you have ongoing cash flow and the capacity to always make rent, then your best option is going to be a long lease. Make sure you get long options, so you don't have to move. We think 5 x 5 x 5 is the ideal arrangement whereby you lease the property for five years with the right to then rent again for another 5 years and so on.

3. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Sometimes we think the only time we can barter or negotiate is on holiday! Wrong! You can often times if you ask actually to negotiate a better price for you. Money saved could mean money for other important business items such as marketing or even staff wages. We think it’s a great idea to put in a lower offer. You can even ask for the first three months to be free to allow set up time. Assuming the office space has been empty for a period of time, you might just manage to negotiate your lease for cheaper than anticipated.

4. A good lawyer is worth their weight in gold. They get a bad rap from time to time but we have found that having a lawyer check through the contract can save money and time further down the track. We always recommend you make sure you have a lawyer check your contract thoroughly. In particular, you’ll want them to ensure it is correct and binding in favour of the tenant. 

5. Love a bit of DIY or home reno. Then you might be the perfect candidate to get a fixer-upper. Getting something that requires a little bit of love and attention can be a great idea also if you want to save some money. You can spend less on fit out and as a result, widen your search to include properties that you know aren’t perfect, but you can make work. When the time is right, and you have built capital in the business you can then look to fix the fit out to your taste. This option provides great flexibility to really turn your workspace into something you truly love.

6. Make sure you’re paying market rent. There’s nothing more annoying than finding out six months down the track that your neighbour is paying less rent than you. It’s always a great idea to research rents in the area. Drop in and chat with other commercial tenants who might become neighbours and don’t be afraid to ask what they are paying. Then you’ll feel comfortable when sitting in the negotiating seat and asking possibly for that lower lease!
 
7. Insurance, body corporate fees, council and water rates, are they included in your lease costs? You’ll want to make sure you know exactly what outgoings you’re going to be responsible for. Not only will this benefit you in running your business efficiently, you’ll also possibly discover that you can make further savings by leasing a property that has many items included. It can be so much easier when you make one payment per month and everything is included.

8. It’s the little things that count. For older premises, you would be surprised what small items you can add to the décor to decorate the property nicely. Plants, lights and good office furniture really do make a difference. Plants can add a touch of colour and bring the outside in, whilst it has also been proven that adding plants to the workplace promotes a healthier environment which includes reduced stress, increased productivity and cleaner air!

9. Plan ahead for growth within your business. Wouldn’t it be great if a magic genie could tell you where your business will be five years from now! Better than a genie is being prepared for the best-case scenario. You’ll want to ensure there is room to grow so that if you expand down the track, you won’t need to move office which can be just as hard as moving to a new house!

10. Hopefully, there isn’t something in your clause telling you what you can and can’t do, but if there is, feel free to negotiate. Especially if you may be looking to diversify your business offering further down the road. 

Moving to new office premises can either be an exciting or stressful time in your working life. We find that preparation and knowledge are key in making the move as easy as possible and for great long-term benefits to not only yourself but your business too.


Danelle Hunter

Danelle Hunter

Managing Director at Biggin & Scott Knox

Danelle Hunter is the Managing Director of Biggin & Scott Knox, an Award winning Property Manager and Real Estate Entrepreneur. Danelle is recognised as one of Melbourne’s most successful Property Managers and franchisees, having grown the business from two offices to four, increased revenue by 700% and doubled the rent roll, within just two years helping her to win the hotly contested Excellence in Customer Service Award for the 2017 Annual Excellence in Real Estate Awards.

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