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Lawyers, Leases, and Landlords

Many of my clients, usually on spaces smaller than 5000SF, ask me if they should have a lawyer review their office lease before signing. My unequivocal answer to that question is always a resounding YES. Why is that the case? Some of the rebukes, to having an attorney review tenants leases, I’ll receive from time to time are: “Shouldn’t a lease be pretty much a boiler plate document and very straight forward?”, “I didn’t have a lawyer review my apartment lease and I would love to save time and money”. However, there are really very clear, logical, and fiscally responsible reasons for having your lease not just reviewed by a lawyer or real estate lawyer but a real estate lawyer experienced in the New York City market.


Firstly, commercial leases can be long affairs ranging anywhere from 3-15 years or more. Whenever entering a long term relationship, it would be nice to know what the rules and regulations of that relationship, or lease per se, are. Additionally, the rules and regulations of NYC are unique to the rest of the country and attorneys not familiar with the city may miss important points. So you won’t want your attorney interpreting the NYC office lease for the first time, with you.


However, more importantly, leases are almost always generated by the (usually) experienced landlord’s real estate attorney and therefore are usually skewed towards the landlords’ interests. This is called “Landlord Friendly” and usually how leases start. I say this is how they start, because leases themselves are a point of negotiation too. It is important to take the time and make sure both parties entering the lease are comfortable with the terms before signing on the dotted line for the next 3-15 years. The idea being the make the lease mutually “friendly” between the landlord and the tenant.


Although lease reviews can add a significant time (anywhere from 2-6 weeks on average) and cost to the leasing process, in legal fees, it could end up saving you considerably down the line making sure you are comfortable with your responsibilities as a tenant and by making sure there are no surprises down the road.


So, make sure to have an attorney review your lease!


David Goldberg, Managing Director