Building ServicesOther Lease TermsPre-lease Issues

Can You Hear Me Now? What Tenants Must Know About Office Building Cell Service

We’ve all struggled with poor cell phone service in large buildings, frequently with our face pressed to the window trying to catch a bar.  The service issue typically isn’t with the carrier, but with the obstructions within a building or neighboring buildings.  Given today’s mobile workforce where we’re using our devices for a lot more than making calls, tenants should consider this issue before renewing a lease or looking for new space. Forward thinking landlords are also concerned about this issue as they know it will affect the value of their property, which is based upon a well-occupied building.  In this post, I outline the trends behind the increasing demand of cell service, its impact to tenants, how some landlords are addressing this issue and what tenants should be doing.  Continue reading

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Pre-lease IssuesTenant Build-out

Tenant’s Guide to Minimizing Office Construction Costs

As the economy continues to expand (along with office tenants), office construction costs continue to climb.  That’s due in large part to the strong economy as well as a shortage in construction labor and certain materials. In this post, I outline strategies for tenants to minimize their office construction costs.  Thank you to Bill Conopeotis and Liz McCleary of ConopCo Project Management for their input on this post as well our long-time client Erik. Continue reading

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Pre-lease IssuesSubleasing and Assignment

Subtenant’s Guide to a Great Deal

Looking for a great deal on office space?  A sublease may be the answer.  Subleases are often attractive to businesses as they offer a low cost, flexible, turnkey solution.  Start-up companies and established companies can find subleases to be a great opportunity.  They are, however, not without challenges and risks.  In this post, I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of subleasing and how businesses can navigate the sublease process to get a great office space that will help propel their business. Continue reading

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Forms of SecurityPre-lease Issues

Tenant Lease Security Strategies

As commercial real estate values are rooted in a dependable cash flow, landlords (and their lenders) are keenly interested in the creditworthiness of their tenants.  As most businesses are not in the Fortune 500, many will face the issue from prospective landlords of how they will secure their financial obligations under the lease.  Where landlords are increasing their construction allowances to address rising construction costs, lease security has taken on increased importance for tenants today.  It should be addressed early in the business negotiations when multiple properties are under consideration.  A tenant’s business is best served when they can put more of their money to work for their business instead of having their money held hostage by their landlord.  In this post, I outline the three primary approaches to lease security: (1) Cash Security Deposit; (2) Letter of Credit; and (3) Guaranty. Continue reading

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Lease AuditOther Lease TermsPass-throughs

Limiting the Hidden Costs of Office Rent: Operating Expenses & Taxes

A major component (30% or more) of an office tenant’s rent bill is property taxes & operating expenses (“T&O”) which today is on the rise and where tenants have limited control under landlord-favorable leases.  In Chicago, T&O is rising significantly and where most buildings quote rents on a “net” basis (which may be comparable), the amount of T&O can vary significantly among buildings.  While tenants and their advisors will fight hard on the rent and other deal terms, if T&O is not properly vetted and negotiated, those deal terms will be far outweighed by surprisingly large T&O costs. In this post, I discuss the two common rent structures and offer strategies on limiting increases in T&O to provide tenants with cost certainty.  Continue reading

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Other Lease TermsPre-lease Issues

Added Transparency Needed for Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

financialThe quest for “transparency” is a major driver in our world today so that people can make the best decisions.  We saw it with banking reforms after the recession as well as with all the new disruptive technologies.  In commercial real estate, we recently saw the push for transparency with the new lease accounting rules.  Commercial real estate brokerage, is a sector in need of increased transparency, particularly given the continued consolidation of commercial real estate brokerage firms where it is increasingly common for opposing parties in a transaction to be represented by agents from the same firm.  Beyond this conflict of interest issue, greater transparency is needed as to compensation and “incentives” offered by property owners to entice agents to show a particular property. Continue reading

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Building Services

Office Building Amenities Arms Race

MarketplaceWe’ve all heard of the rich perks leading tech companies offer their employees – from gourmet food to full-service gyms.  Borrowing a page from these companies, office landlords are offering many of those perks to their tenants as added amenities as they look to lease-up their buildings and increase rents.  While their interests diverge, today’s office landlords and tenants (not just the Googles of the world) share a simple mission: create a workplace where people want to be and where they thrive.  That’s particularly the case today where everyone is looking for ways to retain and attract millennials.

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DamageEnd of Lease TermRepair and Maintenance

How Tenants Can Limit Lease Surrender Liability

Looking forward to a new chapter in your business, you just moved into your new office space.  Your old office building is, however, haunting you after receiving an invoice from your prior landlord for restoration obligations.  Most office leases contain a relatively innocuous provision commonly referred to as the “Surrender Clause” which spells out the obligations of the tenant to restore their premises to a certain condition upon lease expiration or termination.  Many tenants pay little attention to this provision in lease negotiations based on the conventional wisdom that the landlord will likely demolish their space and rebuild it for a new tenant.  In this post, I outline what tenants should consider in limiting their liability when surrendering their premises. Continue reading

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Other Lease TermsParking

Bridging the Last Mile – innovative public-private partnership

trainThe trend of companies moving to urban areas in search of younger talent has challenged some suburban based companies, landlords and suburban governments in the Chicago area and across the country.  Earlier this year, I posted a blog examining the trend of urban migration in Chicago and nationally: Corporate Office Urban Migration – Chicago & Nationally.  While the Chicago area is well connected with mass transit (including an extensive rail system), the challenge has been for commuters to get to and from the rail line.  That’s particularly been a detriment for suburban companies trying to recruit “car-less” millennials whom live in Chicago.  While there’s train service for reverse commuters, the transit from the train to suburban office parks is a challenge.  Recently, however, a Chicago area based company, along with the support of DuPage County and the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), has piloted a car-share solution at a local train station to improve transit connectivity. Continue reading

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Other Lease TermsSuperior Interests

The TICking Bomb of Building Ownership

timebombOccasionally, we hear of a tragedy where a bomb explodes in a former war zone.  Likewise, in commercial real estate where most markets have recovered from the recession, there is a time bomb of building ownership that can be disastrous for office tenants.  That ownership structure is a TIC (Tenancy-In-Common).  In this post, I outline what is a TIC, the challenges they present and how tenants can safeguard their interests.

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