Business Leases in Georgia

Jumping into a business lease is not one of the smartest things to do. Think carefully before you sign any documents that lock you into any kind of a contract.

If you were setting up a business in Georgia, one of the first things on your list would be to find a place to call home for your office. There are so many things to consider prior to signing on the dotted line though – location, amount of space, amenities and – did we say location?

Find out if the lease on the commercial property is a gross lease, net lease, percentage lease or graduated lease. If you’re setting up a small business you might want to consider a short-term lease, but that depends on your choice of locations as well. In most instances, a shorter-term lease will be a good choice for a small business that isn’t location sensitive.

Usually larger businesses, ones that have a need for a high traffic location, require and indeed prefer longer-term leases. No matter what situation you find yourself in, try and opt for a renewable lease and get a cap on the annual rate of rent increase.

Another point to take into consideration is to check for a clause that allows you to sublease or assign your premises. You don’t want to be stuck with a location if you want to go out of business or are forced out of business.

Make sure to ask about insurance. The landlord of the commercial lease location usually has fire and extended coverage insurance needed for the property. It’s up to the tenant to get adequate insurance for his or her personal property.

Take a look at the lease terms as well. First, is the rent reasonable for what you need the property for, or could you get a better deal somewhere else? Comparison-shopping isn’t a bad idea when it comes to pricing out locations. Second, is the rent over-priced or not, and this is something you will know by checking around?

You will most likely be required to pay two months rent as a security deposit. This covers you if you vacate without paying the rent. The deposit has to be returned within 30 days if you have given proper notice and there is no major property damage. This is one of the reasons you need to have an inspection prior to leasing and afterwards.

The law in Georgia is that there is an inspection that makes sure the tenant and the landlord sign an agreement on the condition of the building being leased. This is usually for larger landlords; but smaller ones, with smaller holdings, may also take advantage of this law.

What happens is that the landlord will inspect within three days of the end of the lease (or termination if that comes first) and make a list of things that need to be repaired. Depending on the extent of damages, the landlord may withhold the security deposit in whole or in part.

The law further states the landlord must provide 60 days notice before ending a lease and you, the tenant, must give 30 days notice. When in doubt about commercial leases, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who will explain the ins and outs.

Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at Webbdorazio.com.

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