Your lease will most likely be your biggest monthly expense besides your employ­ees and your­self. It will also most likely be your longest oblig­a­tion. Leases can run from one month, to a few years, to longer than a decade. It makes sense then to make sure you do your best to get it right.

But that’s not easy con­sid­er­ing all the par­ties involved and the uncer­tainty of the future. You have land­lords, bankers, bro­kers, attor­neys, insur­ers, prop­erty man­agers, con­trac­tors, archi­tects, and busi­ness own­ers. Your busi­ness might be wildly suc­cess­ful or go bust (let’s hope for suc­cess). The econ­omy might change. Dis­as­ters can hap­pen. And the list goes on and on.

Yet many busi­ness own­ers just sign the lease given them by the land­lord with­out much con­sid­er­a­tion to their own inter­ests and their future. They just want to get into a space and start doing busi­ness. That’s not always a wise course to take.

There are traps for the unwary. The land­lord doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily set these traps on pur­pose. The land­lord nor­mally gives you what the landlord’s lawyer drafted; the same lawyer who advo­cates for the land­lord, so you’ll more than likely get a landlord-favored lease. You also need to con­sider that the lawyer often cuts and pastes old leases together, not com­pletely real­iz­ing what’s in the lease. This can lead to dis­as­trous results. So it makes sense for all par­ties to take a step back and nego­ti­ate and draft a lease that works for all parties.