Leasing Lessons Learned


Whether it’s time for your business to upgrade its facilities or move out of your home office into a commercial space, there are important lessons to be learned about commercial leases. Case in point: the recent dispute between the City of Parker, Liberty Baptist Church and the commercial property owner. Liberty Baptist Church had to relocate from its previous location in Callaway.
Desiring to remain in the local area, it signed a lease in a small commercial strip in nearby Parker. What could possibly go awry with that? Unfortunately, the City of Parker has an ordinance preventing bars and other such establishments from being located within 500’ of a church or school. Usually these ordinances serve to limit bars from corrupting innocent youth or presenting temptations too close to places of worship. Turns out their new location is also home to Sharks’ Bar, a tenant there for twenty years. Heavenly days! The City of Parker refused a variance to its ordinance to allow the Church to remain. The landlord will rightly bear the cost of helping Liberty Baptist find a new church home but the disruption to the pastor and congregation cannot be so easily recouped. 

This lesson will not specifically apply to 99% of entrepreneurs but certainly warrants consideration. What obligation does the landlord have as regards a prospective tenant’s ability to set up shop there? Is there a duty on their part to tell you, the potential tenant, of ordinances and restrictions on a specific business operating there? One would think so, but it pays to do a little legwork yourself on retail/ commercial ordinances before you sign the lease. The time you spend on a phone call to the City or County Clerk’s office will be time well spent. 

Also think about your business requirements. Does your potential location come with any limitations that might adversely impact your operations? Will you have truck deliveries after business hours or on weekends that might rile residential neighbors? Will the foot or car traffic your venture generates affect your business neighbors in the complex? It’s never a bad idea to introduce yourself to the other businesses in the complex. If there are going to be problems, better to know beforehand. Plus, these conversations will give you much needed insight into how responsive the landlord has been to their tenants’ concerns. If getting the plumbing fixed has been a headache for others, you might want to look elsewhere. 


Jamie Shepard
Consultant, Business Innovation Center

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