If you have decided to open a new medical or dental practice, or are looking to relocate an existing one, it is important to know that medical and dental leases have certain unique provisions related to the specific purpose of the business. You should have at least a basic understanding of California commercial leases to know what questions to ask and what terms to look for (and to avoid) when beginning the process. While educating yourself about leases will certainly go a long way, and your real estate broker can offer some guidance, you should ultimately have a San Francisco business attorney review your lease and negotiate certain terms before you sign a commercial lease. A knowledgeable commercial lease lawyer will ensure that the lease serves your best interests and that you do not simply sign the landlord's standard medical office lease with key terms solely in the landlords favor.
Finding A Home For Your California Medical or Dental Practice
When you are starting a new medical or dental practice in California, it is wise to consider your initial costs. That said, the location you choose for your practice can determine your long-term success. Because many commercial leases are for terms of ten or fifteen years, it is imperative that you identify a location that suits your present needs but can also meet your reasonable expectations of growth.
There are many factors to evaluate when deciding on a location besides the office space itself. Safety, accessibility of parking, relative locations of competitors, and neighborhood demographics can all affect your practice and should not be disregarded. In considering the well being of your patients, consider that light, airy spaces can be comforting to those patients who already fear going to the doctor or dentist.
Questions You Should Ask A Prospective Landlord
Once you have found a location and are ready to talk with a prospective landlord, you should be prepared to ask the relevant and probative questions to ensure you are getting what you expect.
Ask questions about the landlord. Find out whether the landlord is an individual or an institution, local or remote, experienced or novice. Your startup practice cannot afford for you to spend substantial time resolving issues around the maintenance or repairs of the property.
Ask questions about the property. If the property has a high turnover rate, or if a medical practice recently moved out or failed in that location, be on your guard. Though not dispositive, these signs should warn you to look more closely at the property as a viable home for your practice.
Reviewing And Negotiating Your Commercial Lease
There is really no substitute for having a San Francisco commercial lease attorney review your lease before you sign, but there are certain key items a savvy tenant should know independently:
Seek the shortest term possible with renewal options (one year). If the location doesn't work out for you, it can be much easier to wait out a shorter lease than to break a long lease and deal with the repercussions of doing so.
Examine the expenses included in the lease. Often, landlords pass on expenses such as taxes, insurance, and common area maintenance to tenants in what is called a NNN lease. In contrast, a gross lease contains all expenses but should still be scrutinized to see what "all expenses" entails to that particular landlord.
Avoid providing a personal guaranty, if possible. Often, landlords require a personal guaranty, particularly when the tenant is a new or young company. Some landlords are willing to negotiate and release the personal guaranty after a number of years.
Consult A San Francisco Commercial Lease Attorney
Even if you believe that you have found a great place for your practice, at a great price, with a lease and landlord you are satisfied with, you should have an attorney review it for you to ensure that you haven't overlooked any important lease terms that could potentially hurt your practice. Finally, a qualified attorney will recommend modifications where appropriate and negotiate key lease terms to tailor the lease to your specific needs.
Related Blog Posts
How To Pick A Site For Your Business, Robb Mandelbaum, Inc.com
How To Get A Good Deal On A Lease, Inc.com