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Check out your landlord before you sign a commercial lease

When you apply for a commercial lease, you can bet that the landlord is going to do a little digging around in your background to make sure that you're the right tenant for the place.

You should probably do the same thing. Unfortunately, a lot of commercial tenants get so caught up in the excitement of finding just the right place for their business that they don't even think about doing a background check on the landlord.

That's a mistake. Your landlord can be one of the major factors that will make or break your business.

Checking out a landlord isn't as easy as checking out a potential tenant, so you're at a bit of disadvantage. However, there are some things you should do that can help you decide if a landlord will be a good fit for you.

Call the Chamber of Commerce

Your Chamber of Commerce may prove an invaluable source of information, including where you can go to meet with local business owners. Ask about clubs, social networks and meetings. You can bet that if your landlord has been problematic in the past with other tenants that someone in the area knows about it and is willing to talk.

Talk to existing tenants

Walk around and introduce yourself to existing tenants. Explain that you are thinking about leasing and simply ask questions, including:

  • Are repairs handled on time?
  • Is the landlord generally professional?
  • Does the landlord communicate well?
  • What other advice can they offer?

Take note of how the tenants respond. If you detect any major hesitance when they answer, that may be a sign that the tenants have had trouble in the past with the landlord, even if they're not willing to say. Satisfied tenants will usually give a recommendation rather freely.

Go to Google

Search engines can definitely be your friends when it comes to landlords. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check for lawsuits, news stories about tenant complaints or anything else that comes up with the landlord's name. Get to know everything you can before you decide to sign.

Finally, never let a landlord push you into a quick contract. That's the easiest way to make a serious mistake and can lead to an expensive conflict. Contract negotiations on a commercial lease should always be handled carefully.

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