Tag Archives: Landlord

Options to Renew Your Lease: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

You are a tenant leasing some kind of commercial space like retail, office, industrial or otherwise.  You were smart and negotiated at least one option to renew your lease.  But, should you exercise that option to renew?  Do you really understand what conditions in which it would be favorable or not to exercise this option?

In my market in Southern California, most landlords will grant a tenant who is leasing commercial space an option to renew their lease for one additional lease term that is less or equal to their original term.  For example, if you leased for a 5 year term then you could usually negotiate a 5 year or less option to renew.  If you leased for 10 years, you might get one 10 year option to renew or perhaps two 5 year options to renew.

But here is where it gets tricky.  It’s generally not in your best interest to exercise your option to renew. Instead, you should think of it as a last resort.  Option to renew language usually contains a certain minimum rent to the landlord. For instance, it may be no less than what you were paying at the end of you current term or maybe it has a 3% bump above what you are paying at that time.  I have found that market rents are usually lower than what your option to renew requires you to pay.  And what about current market tenant concessions like free rent, improvements, etc.?  You will most likely miss out on these.

Another provision that option to renew language usually contains is that the lease (except for the rent) will be on the same terms and conditions.  So, if there is a clause in your lease that needs to be negotiated you may want to reconsider the option to renew.  These clauses could include receiving a new base year for operating expense increases for an office tenant or excluding unreasonable lease clauses from applying. For instance, certain Triple Net clauses could be excluded for a retail tenant if you negotiated your renewal instead, but these exclusions won’t apply if you simply exercise your option to renew.

What is a tenant to do?  Hire a good commercial broker to help.  This broker will know the current market rents and be able to review the lease with you and recommend all necessary changes.  If the broker is active in your area, then the landlord will be concerned that this broker might relocate you to another building if the landlord isn’t fair.  You simply don’t have the same clout without a good broker and you won’t get as good of a deal.  But do it at least 6-12 months in advance of when your current lease terminates or at least 3 months before you have to exercise your option to renew so your broker and you have time to review your needs and options. One other really good thing that happens when you don’t exercise your option to renew, but rather negotiate your renewal, is that your option to renew many times gets left in place and is still valid the next time your lease terminates.

I have successfully represented many commercials tenants for renewals for their leases and not just new leases.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t do much better than the tenant could do on their own.  Many times the landlords end up paying my fee for the tenant’s renewal just like they always do when I represent a tenant for a new lease.

For more information about commercial leasing, buying, and selling please contact David Massie at DJM Commercial Real Estate at 505-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com.

Commercial Real Estate Dual Representation: Possibly Illegal Soon?

Assembly Bill 1059 has been introduced to the California Legislature to ban commercial real estate dual agency relationships. Specifically, the bill “would prohibit an agent from acting as a dual agent in a commercial real estate transaction,” and also prevent different individuals in the same firm from “acting as an agent for both a seller and buyer in the same commercial real estate transaction.”

There are many pro landlord groups opposing this bill like AIR CRE.  Why?  In my opinion, it’s because it will help the tenant and buyer and reduce the profit of the landlord and seller.  Just read some of the weak arguments made by AIR CRE here.  All of them primarily have to do with a landlord or seller making less money or not doing as well somehow.  Don’t you feel sorry for them?

Dual Representation is not legally allowed in many states.  Why?  Because it can’t be done without violating ethical issues as there are simply too many conflicts of interest.  The tenant/buyer loses big time and the owners and their brokers gain big time. This is why so many brokers and owners are in favor of it.

For 25 years I worked as a landlord and seller and directed some very large real estate companies that owned millions of square feet of commercial property across the US and even internationally.  Many brokers wanted my business because I could give them 5 or 6 figure salaries off some of my properties in any one region that I controlled.  As a landlord, I loved it when my brokers were able to do dual representations because I had a great amount of leverage over the brokers who worked for me.  If they, or anyone in their firm representing a tenant/buyer, pushed too hard for a tenant/buyer at one of my properties –all I had to do was hint that they might not be able to keep my listings.  Would a broker risk losing a 5 or 6 figure salary working for me over one deal where they also represented the tenant/buyer?  Not likely.  That is all it took for the tenant/buyer to not get as good of a deal as they could have received had they used another broker from another firm; a firm that was not affiliated with a listing broker who worked for me or that wasn’t trying to get listings from me.  This is why dual representations shouldn’t be done.

Even though dual representations are legal in California, I won’t do them.  They should be outlawed.  Ask any good real estate attorney how it goes in court when they have to defend a broker for a dual representation. Attorneys that I have spoken with that have experience in this matter have said “it’s not a matter of whether they can win the case but rather of how much they can settle for”.  This is because these attorneys know that it is impossible for a broker to represent both parties correctly without fault.

Can you imagine an attorney who has represented a large property owner for decades attempting to also represent a tenant in a dispute in court?  It wouldn’t be possible to represent both parties fairly.  It doesn’t happen. This is the same reason why dual broker representation should not happen.

Every tenant/buyer should hire a broker that doesn’t have any conflict of interest with a landlord/seller or their broker.  The landlord/seller pays the tenant/buyer’s broker’s commission so it costs the tenant nothing.

Brokerage firms that specialize primarily in representing tenants/buyers are a very good choice because they don’t have the conflicts mentioned above.  If a tenant/buyer is thinking of representing themselves –that can potentially be even worse.  Hire an experienced broker who only has your interests in mind instead.  You will save a lot of time, money and headaches if you use the right broker.

Commercial Landlords and How Their Reputations Affect Leasing

Most commercial landlords that I deal with don’t seem to understand the relationship between leasing their office, retail or industrial buildings, and their reputation in the community.  It’s pretty simple really.  If a landlord has a poor reputation, it will make it harder for them to lease their building spaces.

Here is a prime example.  Before I was a full time commercial real estate broker, I worked directly as the Director of Leasing and Property Management for a large landlord who owned more than 50 commercial buildings. There were many different types of commercial buildings -usually office, retail or industrial spaces.  Before I accepted this job position, I found out that the local brokers whom I knew well and worked with closely did not like working with this landlord -my new employer.  So, I convinced the landlord to let me leverage my relationships with the brokerage community for 6 months to see if it made a difference in our leasing.  Guess what?  In my first year, I negotiated and completed over 125 commercial leases!  This was more than double the number of commercial leases than anyone else that had the job before me.

Another example is when I had just finished acting as an expert witness where I had to go into court and testify that the landlord had ripped off a tenant for over 15 years.  This included millions of dollars related to the tenant’s share of NNN/operating expenses.  Our side won the case.  But the landlord didn’t just lose this case and have to pay my client back for millions of dollars, he also lost the trust of my client going forward and the trust of the other tenants, brokers, attorneys, other people in the community, and so many more.

Think about it Mr. Landlord.  If you treat your tenants poorly, and try to cheat them on their share of their operating expenses or add expenses that aren’t reasonable (even though maybe legally allowed), you are going to have poor relationships moving forward. If you don’t care about their business and working with them in ways to help them do better, have an unfair lease, or don’t check in with them regularly on how they like being a tenant and how they are doing, etc. -then your landlord reputation will hurt your leasing.  People talk.  And they will talk about you not being a good landlord.

My clients ask me all of the time for intelligence on a landlord.  I tell them what I know and when I tell them that a particular landlord is difficult to deal with, doesn’t have a good reputation or has a lease form that is unfair, etc. then many times this client will simply opt to not even consider the property owned by the landlord with a poor reputation.

My advice to landlords:  Treat your tenants like clients and not tenants.  Treat them like you would like to be treated.  You as the landlord many times have the upper hand in so many ways and if you use this leverage incorrectly you are making a mistake.  Tenants are your life blood and you need them as clients not just tenants.

If you are a landlord and want more information on how you can change your reputation, please contact me as I have many ideas on how to do this.  Some of these include calculating NNN and operating expense increases correctly and fairly, fair lease documents, correct property maintenance, and general things that will make your clients (tenants) want to stay in your building and new ones want to lease there.

Contact David Massie for more help: 805-217-0791 or david@djmcre.com

Tenants Need to Hire a Specialist to Audit Their Lease / Operating Expenses

You are a busy tenant running your business.  You receive your annual reconciliation of your share of expenses from your landlord about April each year.  These expenses go by different names, but are usually called NNN in retail and larger industrial spaces and operating expense increases for office and smaller industrial spaces.

The landlord reconciliation usually just shows the breakdown of each expense category, what your percentage share is, and how much you owed for the year.  You usually have been paying estimates all year so you might owe some or actually might receive a credit if you have overpaid.

Can you tell if this reconciliation is correct on your own?  I doubt it.  Most tenants that even think they can really can’t and don’t know what they are missing.  Landlords usually don’t send you enough information on the reconciliation to tell if it’s correct.  You need someone that specializes in understanding your lease and also that knows how to properly audit this reconciliation.  It’s kind of a combination between a real estate attorney and a CPA, but even having both of these on your side will probably not cover all of your bases in this area and it would be costly to use both.  There is a better way to do, it in my opinion.

I just finished acting as an expert witness in a legal matter related to a tenant vs. a landlord where the landlord overbilled the tenant for over a million dollars for their share of NNN expenses.  The tenant who I represented won the case and this has happened many times where I have been involved as an expert witness.  In my experience, I have found that landlords commonly overbill tenants and have many profit centers in their expenses that should not be there.  There are also other things in a lease beyond these types of expenses that give you financial exposure that you probably don’t even know are there.  These need to be understood and you need to be ready for them if and when they happen.

My background preparing these types of reconciliations for landlords spans over 25 years, thousands of tenant reconciliations, and hundreds of negotiations and lease audits for this type of expense reconciliation.  I also was in a position for the last 6 years of my landlord side career to negotiate over 100 leases per year. I am considered by many real estate attorneys to be an expert with a lease form whether retail, office or industrial.  Put the two types of aforementioned experiences together and you have a specialist in this expense share area like me that can really help a tenant like you.

You can hire me on a contingency or hourly basis, but it depends on your situation as to which is best.  I will be able to advise you on this in less than an hour usually and can usually tell if there is problem with your reconciliation.  Not getting it checked every year is a costly mistake.  So, if you want my help to make sure your share has been calculated correctly or you need an expert witness in this area for a legal matter or a full lease audit, please call me.

805-217-0791

david@djmcre.com