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Pay attention to parking provisions before you sign that lease

When business owners are reviewing or negotiating the terms of a lease with a property owner, they don't always give sufficient attention to parking provisions. However, parking can make the difference between customers choosing your business or going somewhere else.

You also want to provide safe, convenient parking for your employees. If you're sharing a shopping center or office building with multiple leasees, each one has a stake in having access to the most convenient parking possible.

Let's look at a few things you want to ask and consider before you sign a lease:

  • Do there appear to be enough spaces near your entrance for your customers, or do all of the spaces fill up quickly each day with customers of other businesses?
  • Can you get designated parking spots for your business, or can anyone use the spots in front of it?
  • Are there enough handicapped spaces available near your business? This is particularly important if you have an older clientele or if you have a business such as a physical therapy clinic.
  • Will you be charged a monthly fee for parking for your employees and customers? If you're in a large office building with a parking garage, this can be substantial. You'll have to decide whether to pass that cost on to your employees each month and if you'll validate your visitors' parking.
  • Are employees required to park in a certain area away from the building? Commercial property owners may have such a restriction to maximize convenient parking for customers.
  • Can the property owner change their parking provisions at any time? The terms might be good when you sign, but if they can be changed without notice or agreement, they're basically worthless.
  • Is there a grocery store on the property? If so, you can find your parking spots blocked by carts or put your visitors and staff at risk of serious dents by runaway carts. If they have wheels that lock when they go a certain distance beyond the store, they can remain stuck in a parking space until someone from the store collects them.
  • Does the parking area have sufficient lighting and security? You don't want to put your customers or employees at risk.

This is a lot to consider. That's just one reason why an experienced attorney should read and help you negotiate the terms of your lease before you sign.

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