Leasing Guide New Office Checklist

Securing quality office space in New York City is often very competitive. Having as much preparation as possible can facilitate a fast negotiation and smoother, cheaper, transition. There’s a good chance you will be one of several prospects for a particular space so how efficiently you can complete the transaction can make the difference between getting your space or not.

Below is a checklist of contacts, resources, and decisions that are helpful to have squared away when you begin your search:

For the lease process:

  • Money for first month’s rent, security deposit, and other move-in costs. Security deposits are typically in the 2-4 month range for a company with strong financials. If it’s a new company or one without enough income to put a landlord completely at ease, it can be more. You should have at least 6-8 months worth of rent ready to dedicate to security deposit, rent, and other expenses so you aren’t scrambling at the last second. If you don’t have that kind of funds to dedicate, you should hold off on the search and maybe find a business center or short term solution until you can pull together the requisite cash.
  • A quality New York City real estate attorney. One of the most common blunders I’ve seen is a potential tenant relying on an attorney that does not specialize in lease reviews and/or specifically, New York city lease reviews handle the negotiation of their lease documents. This will almost always cost the tenant extra money, extra time, stress, and most importantly, can leave them less protected throughout the course of the lease than they otherwise would have been.

If you’re drafting a baseball team, it makes the most sense to pick players that have played a lot of baseball rather than basketball players, even if it’s the best basketball players of all time (remember Michael Jordan?)

Decide who is signing the good guy guarantee. This is a standard part of most leases and unless you are a huge corporation or want to put up 3-4 months of extra security deposit, someone will need to sign, usually the president of the company. If you have several partners, this is a discussion that would be prudent to have ahead of time. As a compromise, multiple people can be liable- it doesn’t reduce anyone’s individual liability, but it does give the other guarantors more of a reason to comply with the stipulations of the guarantee.

Determine internet requirements: almost any building in Manhattan will have “high spend internet”- at minimum DSL, cable or T1 available which would satisfy most businesses. However, if you are in a business that has higher IT needs like film editing, media, etc; you might need something more robust. Determining your usage needs in terms of mbps is a smart thing to do. Ideally, you don’t have needs that would require anything more than a basic connection so your options aren’t limited. If you do have heavy IT needs, you’re better off weeding out the buildings that don’t have it available before even looking at them.

If you learn that your IT needs are more than a basic connection, I would contact the providers that service the building to confirm that they do, in fact, service the building and the speeds that are available. The landlord’s broker(s) often don’t know all of the providers that service the buildings and sometimes even (unintentionally most of the time) mistakenly tell you providers are available when they aren’t. If it’s vital to your business, you should confirm firsthand that it’s in the building before moving forward with the lease.

For move-in:

  • Insurance Agent: almost all leases require the tenant to maintain specific insurance coverage and name the landlord as additionally insured on the policy. You will need to secure this coverage prior to moving in. It’s usually not a long process, but it’s smart to take care of it as soon as you can. If you leave it to right before you want to move in, it could potentially hold up your move.
  • Schedule for internet installation: this can have a lead time of a few weeks so I always recommend that a tenant call to arrange an appointment to get their service activated as soon as they can. If the lease doesn’t end up being signed or the possession date is pushed back, you can cancel with no penalty.
  • IT wiring company: this is separate from the providers and is a contractor that can install your phone and data lines. Obviously this is an essential step in the move in process
  • IT support company: if you don’t have your own in-house IT department for computer, phone, and web issues, you may want to consider hiring a company to handle these needs for you.
  • Air conditioning contractor: if you have a central air conditioning unit, it’s most likely that the lease stipulates that you are responsible for obtaining a maintenance contract for the life of the lease. You will want an air conditioning contractor to inspect the unit prior to lease signing to make sure it’s in good working order and you aren’t penalized for receiving a broken unit. In the summer, air conditioning contractors are very busy so it’s hard to get an appointment. It’s much easier to get an air conditioning contractor to inspect your unit and send you a maintenance contract before their busy season. So if you’re signing your lease in February, don’t wait until May to address the air conditioning.
  • Moving company: if you’re moving in at the beginning or end of a month, it’s going to be hard to find an available mover unless you book weeks in advance.
  • Furniture vendor: it can often take weeks for furniture to be delivered so it’s smart to give yourself as much lead time as possible.
  • Office equipment: printers, copiers, and other business machines are part of almost every office
  • Window treatments: unless you are in a class-a building or taking over a space that was previously occupied and still in tact, you will be responsible for any window treatments you want. This can also involve a little lead time so it’s best to get it out of the way sooner than later especially if you are lucky enough to rent one of those super bright spaces that everyone seems to want.