Commercial Leasing

Karl Dowden has represented commercial landlords and tenants in hundreds of commercial leasing matters.

He represented landlords who lease retail and office space throughout the New York City metropolitan area, including negotiating leases with national and regional fast food brands in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx; with retail stores in Brooklyn, Washington Heights, Harlem and Yonkers; with supermarket chains for mall and retail space in New Jersey; and with office tenants in Long Island City, Queens, Hempstead, Long Island and Peekskill, Westchester County.

He also represented tenants leasing space to operate high end restaurants located in Manhattan and Long Island, national coffeehouse chains as well as small businesses opening new locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Further, he has represented tenants in the negotiation of office leases throughout Manhattan.

Karl Dowden also has experience representing commercial tenants looking to assign or sublease their commercial or office space as well as representing those assignees and subtenants entering into assignments and subleases.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why should a landlord hire an attorney to draft a commercial lease?

Why should a tenant hire an attorney to review and negotiate a commercial lease?

Why should a tenant looking for commercial space have a commercial leasing broker?

What is a Base Tax Year in a Commercial Lease?

What is a Permitted Use in a Commercial Lease?

Assignments; Subleases

Guaranty

Alterations

End of Lease Term; Surrendering the Leased Premises

What is an estoppel certificate and why am I being asked to sign one?

Exit Strategies for a Tenant

Why should a landlord hire an attorney to draft and negotiate a commercial lease?

Commercial leases are usually drafted to address specific characteristics of the area, the building and the business. Additionally, the lease would address your personal expectations for tenants, such as obligations they should perform and acts they should not do during the lease term.

Using a lease that is not drafted by an attorney to address these specific characteristics may save you money in the beginning, however there are risks involved. Typos or improperly drafting the business terms can have a shockingly damaging impact on the owner’s ability to enforce a lease. You may also assume that the lease you rely on has certain terms or imposes certain obligations on the tenant only to learn after the lease was signed that such terms or obligations do not, in fact, exist.

Further, if one or more disputes arise between you and the tenant as to a party’s expectations that the lease does not properly address, then it will likely cost you far more money in the long run (e.g. litigation or arbitration) to resolve the dispute(s) compared to the initial cost of hiring an attorney to prepare and negotiate the lease to your specific expectations.

When you are leasing space that generates substantial revenue in rent for a long period of time, it is important to invest in a solid foundation. The term of a commercial lease can vary, though it typically lasts for 5-10 years (not including any right for the tenant to extend the term of the lease). An experienced commercial leasing attorney is an essential element of any solid foundation.

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Why should a tenant hire an attorney to review and negotiate a commercial lease?

Commercial leases are typically prepared by the landlord’s attorney. As a result, the initial draft of commercial leases are beneficial to the landlord. In addition, courts will interpret and enforce commercial leases in accordance with its terms (unlike residential leases, where there are a number of statutory protections in place such as the obligation to provide heat during the winter season).

Experienced commercial leasing attorneys are also familiar with the market and know what are commercially reasonable concessions as well as how to request them. There are a number of terms and conditions in a lease, all of which are negotiable. It’s important to request changes to the lease which protect your tenancy by providing standards for landlord to review requests by you, providing sufficient time to cure defaults and otherwise balancing the monetary and non-monetary lease obligations in accordance with what other tenants in similar space in similar neighborhoods have.
Even if there is a term sheet or letter of intent in place setting forth the business terms of a deal, or you know what requests for concessions to make from the landlord, it’s important to closely review the actual language in the lease. A couple of added words to a provision can change a party’s obligation (for example, “Landlord shall perform…” is different than “Landlord shall use commercially reasonable efforts to perform…”).

An experienced commercial leasing attorney can ensure that the term sheet/letter of intent is properly incorporated into the commercial lease as well as request commercially reasonable concessions from the landlord to protect your tenancy and subsequent investment into the location.

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Why should a tenant looking for commercial space have a commercial leasing broker?

An experienced commercial leasing broker that represents your interests can help expedite the commercial leasing process. A commercial leasing broker that represents you (e.g. assists you in finding commercial space) is different from a commercial leasing broker that represents a landlord. A commercial leasing broker that represents a landlord will certainly assist in the negotiation of a deal, however it is important to keep in mind that they are ethically bound to represent the landlord’s interest, not yours.

In addition to assisting you find commercial space that is ideal for your business, brokers typically know the market and are in the best position to negotiate commercially reasonable business terms for space you are interested in. There may be concessions that a broker will request (i.e. free rent, tenant improvement allowance, etc.) that you may not have considered requesting. Brokers will also typically facilitate the lease negotiation process by following up regularly and helping to resolve any sticking points throughout negotiations. In addition, landlords typically will (but not always) pay the broker’s commission so there is usually little reason not to have a broker represent your interests.

One thing to keep in mind is that a broker will typically receive a commission only in the event a lease is signed. As a result, they are incentivized to get a lease signed. Experienced brokers (and attorneys) can help brainstorm creative solutions to address any reservations you may have to signing a lease, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like recommendations to commercial leasing brokers in New York City and in Westchester County.

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