When all par­ties sign the let­ter of intent, you’re ready to start nego­ti­at­ing the lease. Some­times you’ll just go straight to the lease with­out sign­ing a let­ter of intent. The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber is that time is your best friend. What’s an extra month when you’re sign­ing a ten-year lease? The longer you have to nego­ti­ate, the bet­ter your lease will be.

There are a few things you should do before you sign the lease. Hope­fully you’ve already engaged your attor­ney in the nego­ti­a­tions. Don’t give a copy of the lease to the attor­ney to review at the last moment. You’ve lost a lot of your bar­gain­ing power by that point. It’s also a good idea to have your insur­ance agent read the whole lease and make sure that you have the right poli­cies in place. You should con­sider inves­ti­gat­ing the land­lord. You can ask for ref­er­ences and talk to other ten­ants. A good lease with a bad land­lord doesn’t make a good com­bi­na­tion. You might con­sider get­ting a title report to make sure that your intended use doesn’t vio­late any land use restric­tions. You might want to make a list of con­trac­tors for lan­dord approval.

Now we’re finally ready to start talk­ing about the actual lease. Every­thing we’ve talked about so far helps assure that you’ll get a good lease. It will help you make good deci­sions when you’re nego­ti­at­ing the actual pro­vi­sions of the lease.

When we talk about your lease, we’re talk­ing about your future. All a lease can do is cover items that typ­i­cally hap­pen in a landlord/tenant relationship and the things that are less likely to hap­pen, but are bet­ter han­dled in a lease rather than when the event hap­pens. The lease is also a valu­able tool to estab­lish expec­ta­tions among all the par­ties. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend a cou­ple of hours with all par­ties before sign­ing the lease to go over each provision.

Once you sign your lease, you’re bound by its terms. We’ll look at a typ­i­cal life of a lease, the par­ties, money, fair­ness, and changes—all to help you bet­ter under­stand the terms of a typ­i­cal lease.