GLENDALE, Ariz. — For the vast majority, the landlord/tenant relationship has different needs for each party, and most are in opposition.

For long-term success, it is important that each party understands that cooperation, compromise and civility go a long way. There can be clauses for dispute resolution but both parties would do well to first set their emotions aside when a dispute arises and attempt to find a win/win solution.

In the first two parts of this article, I covered rental strategy and negotiations. Today, let’s conclude by addressing certain questions to answer and things to consider before and after signing on the dotted line.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR WHEN RENTING

  • When calculating “rentable space,” some landlords will measure from the outside of one wall to the outside of another, leaving you to pay for the thickness of the walls.
  • If your mat takes up, say, 20% of the building, did you check to see if it really does take up that share? This is important because your store’s square-footage percentage will most likely be used to bill you with any increases, such as real estate tax escalations, or common-area changes. Make sure it’s accurate. A common trick is for a landlord to assign tenants’ square footage to collectively add up to more than 100% of the building!
  • Pay attention to the Consumer Price Index. Because the CPI measures all goods and services, your rent could increase more than the landlord’s costs.
  • As far as common-area charges, does your lease spell out any maintenance/repair issues of the property that you could end up sharing?
  • If you lose utilities for a long time, or if the building burns down, will you still be responsible to pay the rent? If so, how much and for how long?
  • Can you sublease a part of your leased space? You may want to try other sources of income.
  • If the building is sold, is there language that spells out what happens to your lease?
  • When you sell, will the landlord still hold you responsible for the rent if the new buyer doesn’t pay? If so, how long could you be on the hook?
  • If the landlord put your rent deposits into a dedicated bank account, who gets the interest?
  • Are you allowed to keep your business open 24/7, if needed?
  • Are you allowed to install vending machines? Some landlords prohibit vending to protect other retailers such as convenience stores.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Can you buy the building? A “right of first refusal” if your landlord decides to sell can be very useful.

Does your landlord offer a guarantee that he/she will not rent out any empty space on the same property to another Laundromat? In legal terms, is there a non-compete clause?

Keep in mind that any “capital improvements” to the building approved by the landlord and made by you will automatically become the landlord’s property. This includes rooftop HVAC units, new storefronts/windows, and all infrastructure (plumbing, electrical, washer platforms, etc.), but not the laundry equipment itself.

Finally, if the landlord wants “cash under the table” to agree to anything, run and find another location!

Miss earlier parts of this story? You can read them here: Part 1 - Part 2