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Need to Rent a Small Commercial Space? The Key Plans

Need to Rent a Small Commercial Space? The Key Plans

Need to Rent a Small Commercial Space? The Key Plans

Businesses of any size that want an office or retail space must sign commercial leases. Initially, this may be an exciting alternative for startups and small businesses.

But you may need to consider a small commercial space for rent. Even if you engage an attorney, you should know the leasing method and issues to consider before signing a lease.

When you find a business facility you like, there are a few things to think about before signing a contract. Listed below is by no means an exhaustive list of such things and a few essential facts:

Why Should You Consider Leasing a Small Commercial Space?

A business lease typically lasts between five and 10 years. The same goes for every small business space for rent. During the lease period, you have the right to use the premises in accordance with the lease. You may move in without making a huge down payment, saving you time and money.

There are several up-front expenses, including legal fees, a broker, a release inspection, and a security deposit. When someone rents a house, they are not responsible for major repairs or maintenance. However, they might have to pay for some minor repairs. For a  small commercial space for rent, less time and effort are required to have a lease authorized than a commercial real estate loan. It allows you to have greater location flexibility. You can leave when your lease is up, even if you don’t sell the house. If you rent a place that would be too expensive for you to buy, you might be able to move into a better area.

What to Look For in a Commercial Space?

If fixing your building isn’t viable, and relocation is your only option, assess your priorities.

1. Accountability With Money

When compared to residential leases, commercial leases provide fewer safeguards to tenants. The landlords must offer safe, decent, hygienic spaces under the habitability guarantee. Residential landlords must also provide heat and hot water.

Retail tenants are exempt from these rules imposed by landlords. Before signing a lease, you should discuss utilities and other costs with the landlord. You may get help from a lawyer and other real estate experts.

2. Business Requirements

Tenants-to-be usually has a wish list, but they still need to determine what’s required and what’s a deal breaker. Write down these three headings and fill them out as completely as possible. You may need specific square footage, can only rent a 20-year-old property, and can’t bear air conditioning. 

3. Is There Anything Specific That Comes With a Commercial Lease?

Knowing what’s included in the contract is just as important as the monthly cost. Small business space for rent varies by how tenants pay shared expenses. There are typically three different kinds of leases:

  • Full-service or gross lease

You, the renter, would be responsible for a consistent monthly payment. The landlord must cover all costs associated with maintaining the building.

  • Net lease

In addition to rent, tenants agree to pay for standard area utilities, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and upkeep.

  • Modified gross lease

This lease combines features of both a gross and a net agreement. The tenant would have a gross lease but be responsible for specific operational expense increases.

Before signing a lease, know the terms and charges. If your landlord wants you to pay specific costs, get estimates to prepare. You can negotiate better terms for your organization. Such as spending limitations to reduce running expenses.

4. What Are the Terms of Lease Renewal?

Typically, a small commercial space for rent lasts five to ten years, as we have stated above. It helps the landlord by assuring occupancy and the tenant by reducing rent over an extended period.

Your company may benefit from the added flexibility that comes with a lease term of one or two years. However, you should be ready to negotiate new conditions when your lease ends. The lease should indicate the renewal time and rate if it has a renewal provision.

If a build-out is part of the lease, you should also know when rent is due and when to tell the landlord if you will renew.

5. What Provisions Govern Lease Modifications?

Your leasing space may need modifications if you run a dentist’s office, pet grooming company, bakery, etc.

Installing bespoke cabinets, carpets, or staff cubicles is a “build-out” condition of retail space for lease. The lease should specify any upgrades’ scope, cost, and payer.

6. What Are the Consequences of Breaking the Lease?

The costs of a lease termination may add up quickly. Depending on your state’s rules, breaking a contract might mean paying rent or eviction.

Ask for a break clause in your lease that outlines early termination and penalties to minimize your risk. If you relocate or sell your company, you should be allowed to transfer and sublet your lease.

7. What Kind of Property Policy Do You Need?

Make sure your lease outlines your insurance requirement. It includes the kind you must have and who makes payments to avoid confusion in case of a lawsuit or loss.

Landlords cover the structure and shared spaces, whereas tenants insure their things. Renovations and additions to the building are also personal property.

A consulting firm that sees customers online may value updated exam rooms more than a medical location.

It’s crucial to get an accurate estimate of your retail space for the lease‘s worth. Your insurance limits should be high enough to cover the expense of replacing your belongings in the event of a loss. You may have to pay for the difference yourself if you go over your insurance coverage.

As the tenant, liability insurance will protect you if an employee or visitor is injured on the property. Furthermore, it protects your organization from legal action.

How Do You Lease a Small Commercial Space?

1. Make a Financial Plan

Having a firm grasp of your financial limitations is an excellent place to start. A budget might help you avoid hasty choices when you fall in love with a location.

Depending on the market, a company’s maximum operating expenditure should go into leasing. Stores should allocate 5-10% of monthly gross sales for rent.

Divide the annual rent by business revenue to predict how much your profits will go toward the lease.

2. Set Your Space Requirements

Size is one of the most important factors to think about when renting a storefront. You shouldn’t spend money on the square footage you won’t use, but you should also have enough room to relax and expand.

A rough estimate of the square footage required is the first step in finding the perfect space for you. It’s important to provide room for your store’s peripheral features, such as:

  • Stockroom
  • Dressing rooms
  • Backstock/storage space
  • Offices
  • Employee space
  • Bathrooms
  • Checkout counter

Now that you know your budget and space needs start looking at rentals. You shouldn’t choose to specialize too early on.

The best way is to list four or five possibilities and compare them. Having more than one choice gives you more excellent wiggle room in terms of price when the time comes to haggle. If you are looking for a piece of land, these are your best bets:

A commercial real estate specialist like Pinpoint can navigate the market and discover good sites. Hiring an agent will make picking a space, complying with requirements, and preparing for closing less stressful.

3. Think About Every Possible Location

Space-wise, you now have a few viable possibilities; you just need to limit them geographically. In general, you should look for retail locations in the following areas:

  • The creation of a safe place 

Customers will not shop at your establishment if they do not feel secure doing so.

  • Where are your clients located?

Locating your company where your ideal customers live, and work has proven effective. The US Census Bureau is a valuable source for regional or local demographics. It’s also possible to attempt counting the people that enter a building.

  • Located near the opposition

Being near the competition enhances the possibility of attracting customers who want what you provide. For startups without an existing clientele, this might be of great help.

  • Close to similar businesses

Businesses in the retail sector, such as cafes, bookshops, and bars, work well together. You can’t go wrong placing a pharmacy or medical clinic next to a department shop selling clothes, and vice versa. Coworking is well suited to temporary or pop-up locations.

4. Review Your Current Lease

When you have settled on a location, it’s time to go through the lease. When you add in the jargon of contracts and leases, this may be a challenging task.

A professional may advise you on what should and shouldn’t be included in the lease, helping you make the best decision for your organization. They will also serve as your landlord’s agent and manage lease negotiations.

5. Lease Negotiations

After reading the lease agreement, you may renegotiate with the selling agent for better conditions. Some of the most typical business lease provisions are listed below:

  • You may negotiate a lower rate, particularly if you plan to rent the property for an extended period. If you plan to be there for a few years, consider concentrating your bargaining efforts elsewhere.


  • Ask your landlord whether you may include utilities in your rent. Try to bargain for certain things, like water and sewage, even if they will only agree to have some things.


  • It is common practice for landlords to attempt to include a yearly increase in rent according to the CPI or any other index in the lease agreement. Tenants should agree on these increases (or escalations) before signing a lease.


  • The standard lease length is one to five years; however, this might vary by state. The prospect of a long-term small business space for rent might be intimidating if you are just getting started. Since renters must pay rent regardless of business success, a short lease period is appropriate. A shorter lease duration will increase the base rent, whether it’s a pop-up shop or a temporary site.


  • Since unexpected events happen, examining early lease termination options is a good idea. Consider maintenance, income decreases that might lead to bankruptcy, and environmental damage.


  • Business rent often requires up to three months’ rent in advance. As a matter of cash flow conservation, see if you can get a discount for one or two months.


An exciting period for your company may be the search for a commercial lease. It’s in everyone’s best interest to proceed with caution and thoroughness in signing a commercial lease. Investing effort before signing a lease can save you time and stress later.


Corruption is a Costly “Hidden” Tariff

Hidden costs

Tariffs, quotas and sanctions are all overt hurdles to free trade that increase the costs of commercial exchanges or even prohibit them. But not all barriers to trade are written down in law or even apparent on the surface. Some lurk in the form of money changing hands under the table.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in a recent report identified corruption as one of the most costly non-tariff barriers in global trade, particularly for low and low-middle income countries. Acting as a “hidden tariff,” a lack of integrity in trade can be just as damaging to trade relations as any legalized restriction.

Corruption wreaks direct costs such as skimmed revenue and outright theft, but can also create health and safety risks as officials look the other way on dangerous cargo. At the firm level, the OECD estimates informal payments and corruption add a “tax” of anywhere from five to ten percent of the value of company sales in markets where corruption is normalized. Combined, these effects will damage countries’ economic welfare over the long run.

corruption adds tax

Trading in bribes

Burdensome regulations and opaque bureaucracy often go hand in hand. The more complex regulation is, the greater the cost of compliance, and the more attractive bribery becomes as an end run around the bureaucracy and the easier corruption is to hide. When governments maintain quotas and other quantitative restrictions, administrative procedures to allocate them also create opportunities for mischief.

Corruption in trade is damaging to business in a number of ways. The added costs consume resources that could be spent bringing down prices or improving quality. Corruption also distorts private sector competition – firms that do best are the ones that can best work the corrupt system, not necessarily the ones that provide the most value. Companies unwilling or unable to engage in corruption are limited or barred from providing their goods and services in that economy.

High levels of corruption also make international firms unwilling to invest due to the added risks. Local citizens, particularly those in emerging economies, feel this damage through a lack of access to affordable, quality products, reduced job opportunities, and insufficient allocation of government resources to public services due to missing tax revenue.

World Bank lost revenue at customs borders

Greasing wheels at the borders

The World Bank estimates that corruption generates losses of about $2 billion each year in lost revenue collection at customs borders.

Complicated rules, a lack of oversight, and the discretionary power characteristic of many customs administrations provide opportunities for corruption at all levels. Whether it takes the form of slipping an agent money at a customs check to let goods through or fudge some paperwork, or large-scale fraud involving officials all the way to the top, corruption can be widespread and corrosive. As former Secretary General of the World Customs Organization, J. W. Shaver, once put it: “There are few public agencies in which the classic pre-conditions for institutional corruption are so conveniently presented as in a customs administration.

In one high profile example, a 2015 investigation in Guatemala uncovered systemic corruption in their customs authority. In return for bribes, importers were allowed to under-report shipments to avoid import taxes on a large scale, costing the country millions. Mass protests with citizens calling for transparency and accountability led to the vice president’s resignation.

Sometimes corruption is less bold but equally systemic. Superstore giant Walmart has recently come under fire for looking past bribery within its supply chain. In 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated Walmart under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for deliberately ignoring corruption risks and red flags in its dealings in India, China, Brazil and Mexico. In India, many payments were less than $200, but together totaled millions. Walmart is paying $238 million to settle the investigation.

WCO quote about customs

Dangers of turning a blind eye

Beyond lost revenue, when customs officials turn a blind eye to nefarious shippers, human lives are put at risk. In 2015, chemicals that were falsely declared in China’s Tianjin port exploded, resulting in over 150 deaths. Investigations found that bribes were paid to sidestep safety regulations. The incident worsened when firefighters used water on the fire, unaware (due to deliberate mislabelling) that the type of chemicals involved would detonate upon reaction with the water.

Solutions that could pay off

There is an argument that, in some cases, so-called “informal payments” may actually facilitate trade in situations where government regulatory hurdles and inefficiencies are hard to overcome. However, greasing the wheels in this manner fails to remove systemic incentives to engage in corrupt behavior.

The trouble is, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of corruption in international trade. The most pressing risks must be targeted to ensure safety and integrity while avoiding over-burdensome rules and red tape that hamper trade and economic growth.

The OECD suggests a mix of approaches. Broad, high-level government support is needed to tackle corruption within customs administrations and border control. The penalties for bribery offenses must be stiffened and applied. The private sector must be engaged to monitor practices in their global supply chains. And, the OECD suggests writing transparency and anti-corruption provisions into trade agreements.

Beyond business and borders

Corruption is a quantifiable hidden tariff on individual commercial transactions. What’s harder is to measure the extent to which corruption, perpetrated in drips over the course of years, damages broader economic prosperity.

If open markets and greater trade benefit ordinary people, as we know they do, then tackling corruption to promote legitimate trade would have positive impacts on the well-being of millions around the world.


Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.