Your lease spec­i­fies how events will unfold—from mak­ing improve­ments, to mov­ing in, to mak­ing repairs, to doing main­te­nance, to renew­ing and exer­cis­ing options, to ter­mi­nat­ing the lease, and finally to mov­ing out.

Hope­fully you already have things in motion when you sign the lease. If you plan on mak­ing improve­ments to the space, the land­lord will often give you a ten­ant improve­ment allowance. You’ll want to get going on these improve­ments as soon as pos­si­ble. This means hav­ing per­mits in place, draw­ings and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, con­trac­tors, financ­ing, etc.

When the ten­ant improve­ments are done, it’s time to move in. Or, if your lease doesn’t involve improve­ments, you’ll move in on the date spec­i­fied in the lease. When the land­lord deliv­ers the premises to you, inspect the premises to make sure you get what’s in your lease.

Then you use the space for the term of the lease. Time will take it’s toll on the property—it will need main­te­nance; it will need repairs or improve­ments; and as time goes on the space might need to be altered for your expand­ing or con­tract­ing busi­ness. Some of these items will be minor and some will be struc­tural. Some will be caused by nature, the land­lord, or other par­ties. Some will be caused by you. These items might cause minor dis­rup­tions to your busi­ness or major dis­rup­tions, even tem­po­rary clo­sure. They will all cost money. They will also require inspec­tions of your leased space.

A few things you may want to con­sider includ­ing in your lease are an option to expand your space or an allowance for refur­bish­ment for longer leases. You can always ask the land­lord for an option to extend the lease. If you’re inter­ested in buy­ing the prop­erty, you can ask for an option to buy the prop­erty or the right of first refusal.

Then the lease ends. You return the prop­erty in good con­di­tion. Make sure that you don’t get stuck with the respon­si­bil­ity to remove your alter­ations or improve­ments. Oth­er­wise, bud­get for them. The land­lord gives you your secu­rity deposit back. And you move on. The lease and the rela­tion­ship is done.