First off, congratulations. A move or change is usually positive or results in something positive in business. So you, the business owner, have decided to change locations or expand to a different one. Whether your business is sales or service related, you still want to consult with your business lawyer for things like discussing liabilities of transport, storage of assets, and a review of your new lease, preferably before you sign it.
A lease is obviously one of the significant documents that any business owner will sign. A good time to have counsel review that new, proposed lease is when you are taking an inventory of physical property and exploring your options for transporting your business assets to the new location. In other words, early in the process and before you move in.
But why? Why not just sign it, move in, and deal with it later? That leasing agent looked trustworthy enough . . . what could go wrong, right?! As the owner of the business, large or small, you have a legal and fiduciary duty to act in and for the best interest of that business. However, even beyond that, it is just prudent and smart business to avoid problems later by confirming or negotiating issues now.
Not all commercial leases are created equal. I’ve seen leases generated by shopping center owners that are large nation-wide companies that use the same lease in all fifty States. Guess what, Florida law is different than some of those, therefore, what is accepted there may be illegal here, like self-help. One of the biggest issues in Florida is HVAC. A business without air conditioning can quickly find itself out of business. Who is responsible for the HVAC at your business location and what does that new lease say about it?
Recently, a client of mine was looking at new commercial space. The lease made the HVAC the tenant’s responsibility. I recommended that my client have the HVAC professionally examined and low and behold we find out it is almost 20 years old, hasn’t been maintained, and probably has less than a year’s life left on it. A new business like that can ill afford a $15,000 or more bill to replace the HVAC in year one; now my client can move in worry free with a new HVAC system from the landlord and even agree to take on the responsibility of maintaining it because the cost of so doing for a new system is very low. Problem avoided, less to worry about, money saved, and small legal fee expense of business well spent as opposed to larger expenses later.
In sum, the best time to consult with your business lawyer is before you execute any move and lease. Each situation is unique, but the mind of the business lawyer looks at aspects that the business owner may not consider. The small expense of the consultation to the business will be worth the peace of mind and protection later.
About the Author
Board Certified expert in business litigation by the Florida Bar, David Steinfeld, Esq. is the owner of the Law Office of David Steinfeld in Palm Beach Gardens – davidsteinfeld.com. He is AV-Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell, 10.0-Superb rated by AVVO, named one of Florida’s Legal Elite for 2012 and 2013, highlighted as “One to Watch” for 2014 by Attorney-at-Law Magazine, and recognized as one of the top business lawyers in Florida for 2013 and 2014 by The Legal Network and selected for inclusion in the list of Florida Super Lawyers for 2014.
Mr. Steinfeld sits on the Florida Bar Board Certification Committee for business litigation and is the current Chair of the Palm Beach County Bar’s Business Litigation CLE Committee. He was also appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to its Committee on Business and Contract Jury Instructions and is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists. He is an invited Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America and a full Professor of Law at Dankook University Law School in South, Korea. Informative videos and articles are available for free at davidsteinfeld.com.
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