COMMERCIAL LEASE: Definition, Requirement, Process & Guide

Commercial Lease
Photo Credit : Wolford Wayne LLP

Any brand-new company owner should take the time to sign a lease. A commercial lease agreement should specify the length and type of the lease, and the type of rent to be paid. You’ll likely need to make a reservation for a space for your company at some point, whether you’re opening a store, moving into an office, or renting out facilities for production. So, finding the right space in the complex world of commercial real estate can sometimes take years.

Commercial Lease 

Every time a company rents a commercial property intending to operate from that location, a commercial lease is necessary. Commercial leases typically last three to five years, establishing a long-term bond between the lessor and lessee. A commercial lease agreement should specify the length and type of the lease, the type of rent to be paid, the amount of the security deposit, the terms governing permitted and exclusive uses, and information regarding repairs and maintenance.

A commercial lease agreement is a contract that a company enters into with a landlord to rent them office space or other commercial real estate.

Commercial Lease Agreement

A commercial lease agreement must include certain elements and crucial information because it is a contract and must do so to be enforceable. The terms of the lease must at the very least include the sum of the rent, the size of the security deposit, the term of the agreement, and any other costs the tenant might be responsible for. The “other costs” category is particularly important, so you should carefully consider it before you sign the contract. Expenses like building insurance, property taxes, and maintenance fall under the heading “other costs.” These additional expenses can quickly accumulate into high overhead costs.

Difference Between a Commercial Lease and a Residential Lease

One distinction is that, unlike commercial lease agreements, residential lease agreements typically do not require tenants to pay any or all of the property taxes. Instead, tenants in commercial lease agreements are frequently required to pay at least a portion of the property taxes. The following include the differences between commercial leases and residential leases:

#1. Protection

Because of consumer protection laws, residential tenants typically enjoy greater protection. There are no regulations that guard your privacy or set a cap on the size of a security deposit with a commercial lease.

#2. Negotiation 

Few to no negotiations take place when it comes to residential leases. Unless the landlord decides to give you a good deal, you must pay the amount listed by the landlord. A commercial lease gives you as a business owner more negotiating leverage. You and a landlord might agree to particular terms and conditions so they can rent out their space.


A lot of residential leases have a very similar structure and many of the same terms and conditions. The needs of the landlord are the foundation of the commercial lease agreement. When they send you the contract, carefully review all of the information.

Commercial Lease Agreement Terms to Know 

The following are the basic terms of commercial leases:

#1. Length of Lease 

This phrase refers to how long a lease will last. It contains inquiries like “How long is the lease?” Will it expire on a specific date or under certain circumstances? Who has the right to extend or end it early—the landlord or the tenant?

#2. Rent 

This phrase includes queries about available payment options. Examples of such questions are “How much is the base rent?” Does it rise at specific times? In addition to the rent, what other expenses are there?

#3. Other Costs 

This phrase discusses other supplementary costs associated with leasing real estate for commercial purposes. Who pays for costs like real estate taxes, building insurance, and routine upkeep are a few examples.

#4. Security Deposit 

This phrase poses queries like How much is it and under what circumstances may the landlord withhold it? 

#5. Grant of the Lease. 

This clause states that after all requirements, such as paying the security deposit, have been satisfied and the tenant has accepted the property from the landlord.

#6. Commencement Date. 

This is the day the tenant moves into the home, or more formally, the day the tenant is responsible for rent payments and upkeep of the rental home.

#7. Extension. 

Extensions are possible when both parties agree to them in writing. Both parties must sign it for the extension to take effect.

#8. Late Fee.

The terms of the commercial lease specify a penalty that the tenant must pay if they are late with their rent payments. You can pay a set amount or a portion of the monthly rent for this.

#9. Taxes. 

The tax obligations for the property are listed in this section, along with information on who is responsible for paying each tax (including real estate taxes).

#10. Obligation for Repair. 

This section outlines the types of repairs that the landlord is responsible for, such as those for material flaws, deficiencies, or failures that are essential to the property’s operation. Additionally, it specifies the maintenance obligations of tenants.

#11. Permits.

To make improvements or repairs at the rental property, both parties must obtain all required licenses and permits.

#12. Indemnity by a Tenant.

This clause effectively absolves the landlord of all responsibility for any harm, loss, claims, or damage, unless such harm is a direct result of the landlord’s willful misconduct, gross negligence, or failure to take reasonable care.

#13. Rent Abatement/Adjustment.

This section sets forth the reduction or elimination of rent in the event of a fire or other natural disaster causing property damage.

#14. Condemnation.

Although it’s frequently disregarded, this clause is crucial. It establishes what will happen if a government agency condemns or evicts a landlord from their rental property so that it can be used for public purposes.

#15. Option to purchase. 

This clause provides that at any time during the term of the Lease, the Tenant may exercise an option to purchase the Property at a Predetermined Price. It would be a good idea to include this clause even though it is not necessary. The agreement may also prohibit the tenant from purchasing the property while the lease is still in effect. It’s a good idea to put it in writing in either case.

Commercial Lease Process 

Investigating the landlord, finding out who owns the building, learning about zoning laws, and gaining a general understanding of the neighborhood are a few steps in conducting research. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the lease’s payment terms, your risk exposure, the transfer structure, the landlord’s preferred holdover rate, and any nuisance clauses before you sign it. 

These are some crucial things to watch out for but bear in mind that different states have different customary commercial lease practices. Before signing a commercial lease, you must do some research. While conducting your investigation, be sure to do the following:

#1. Be Familiar With the Region.

If you’re looking for a new property and you’re in the business of providing goods or services to the general public, you should research the neighborhood and determine who your target market is.

#2. Research the Owner of the Building and the Landlord. 

Your direct landlord might not always be the legal owner of the property. In any case, learn as much as you can about the landlord and the owner of the building. Together, you’re going into business, so make sure you know who they are, what their financial situation is, and whether or not they pay their bills on time.  

#3. Examine Zoning Regulations

The zoning laws are an additional factor to consider. You must ensure that your landlord’s objectives are compliant with the laws of your municipality, even though they may designate your space for, say, operating a restaurant. 

In some cases, a landlord or building owner may believe they can rent out their space to a particular kind of business even though it doesn’t comply with local zoning regulations. By coordinating these two points, you can make sure that your company won’t face any major legal difficulties from the community where you operate.

#4. Learn About Nuisance Laws and the Environment

Before you sign anything, it’s also crucial to research the property’s basic environmental laws. These rules could be used against your business because some landlords frequently ignore them.

Requirements for Leasing a Commercial Space

In addition, the permitted uses of the property may be mentioned in the lease.

#1. Permitted Use 

The lease is only applicable to particular commercial activities. The tenant shall not engage in any other business ventures without the prior written consent of the landlord. The property’s permitted uses restrict the kinds of business operations you can run without the landlord’s consent.

#2. Exclusive Use 

The tenant in a larger property with multiple tenants has the exclusive right to perform certain activities. To stop competing businesses from moving in next door, a coffee shop in a strip mall or a tax preparer in an office park, for example, may haggle for exclusive use.

#3. Breaking a Lease

A tenant may think about ending the lease if the business is having trouble or if it needs to relocate. If they do, the landlord may be able to file a lawsuit against the tenant to recover the unpaid rent under the terms of the lease. Some states may have a duty of mitigation on the part of the landlord, which obligates them to try to re-rent the space and apply the rent they collect to the damages the tenant owes. 

What Is the Most Common Type of Commercial Lease?

#1. Full-Service Leases

In a full-service lease, also known as a gross lease, the tenant is responsible for paying the base rent, while the landlord covers all other building-related expenses such as utilities, insurance, taxes, and maintenance. The tenant will also be responsible for paying for a portion of the common areas, which is where the “loss factor” of rentable versus usable space enters the picture.

#2. Net Leases

Nevertheless, in a net lease, some of the building’s operating costs are borne by the tenants. The three different types of net leases each have their advantages. As opposed to a gross lease, a triple net lease requires the tenant to cover both the rent and building operating expenses. Rent should decrease as a result, but variable costs should increase. 

Similarly to this, in a double net lease, the tenant is responsible for paying the taxes, insurance, and utilities, but the landlord or property owner is responsible for covering the costs of structural upkeep. Finally, in a single net lease, the landlord bears the cost of insurance, taxes, and maintenance, while the tenant is responsible for paying the rent and utilities. 

#3. Absolute NNN Leases

Absolute NNN (or bondable) leases, which are less common, require the tenant to pay for all building maintenance costs, including roofing.

#4. Percentage Leases

In addition to base rent, tenants who have percentage leases also pay a portion of retail sales. Even though they can be found elsewhere, shopping malls are where they are most prevalent.

#5. Fully-Serviced Lease 

Utility and other services that the tenant would typically pay for separately are frequently included in the rent in office buildings with multiple tenants.

What Is the Normal Term for a Commercial Lease?

Commercial leases typically last between three and five years. That ensures the landlords will be able to recoup their investment through rental income. 

Who Pays for Commercial Lease Agreements? 

The landlord and the kind of agreement reached to determine the payment for the commercial lease agreement. However, in a commercial lease, the lessee is typically responsible for both the lessor’s and the parties’ legal expenses.

What Are the Main Components of a Commercial Lease?

Some of the key elements to consider include the following:

  • Rental term/type
  • Rental fee
  • Security Payment
  • Permitted use
  • Exclusive use
  • Renovations and upkeep
  • Exterior Appearance
  • Insurance
  • Meeting Americans with Disabilities Act requirements
  • Personal guarantee
  • clauses for modification, amendment, and termination
  • Subleasing

What Type of Commercial Lease Is Best?

The triple net lease, or “NNN” lease, is arguably the most popular among commercial landlords because it places the majority of the burden of cost-sharing on the tenant, including base rent, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance.

Do Commercial Leases Have to Be Registered?

If you are signing a short-term commercial lease, you do not need to register it. Any commercial lease that has a term longer than three years (including any option periods) needs to be registered. Normally, no registration is required if the time frame is shorter than three years. 


Make sure you thoroughly research the property before signing a lease. Always do your research before moving in, including investigating the area, the landlord, the neighborhood zoning laws, and any additional environmental or nuisance laws that might apply to the property. The tenant is referred to as the “lessee” in the lease, and the landlord is referred to as the “lessor.”

Commercial Lease FAQs

What Is a Commercial Lease Agreement?

A commercial lease agreement is a contract that a company enters into with a landlord to rent them office space or other commercial real estates.

What Is the Normal Term for a Commercial Lease?

Commercial leases typically last between three and five years

Do Commercial Leases Have to Be Registered?

Normally, no registration is required if the time frame is shorter than three years. 

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