Business Lease Agreements: Call Us Before You Sign

The lease of your business premises is one of the most significant financial commitments you will make. You’re on the hook for a lot of money for 3, 5 or even 10 years. If your lease hasn’t been carefully drafted, there is a risk of misunderstanding all rights, responsibilities and obligations as well as the real financial commitment.

Commercial leases are complex documents and should be thoroughly reviewed by your lawyer before signing.

Many tenants simply look at the rental payment and terms and then sign the landlord’s standard lease without considering that it has been drafted in the landlord’s favour. The landlord typically does not include provisions for your protection.

You should understand that you have the right to negotiate any of the lease terms and add clauses for your protection. The landlord may or may not agree but there is a good chance, with proper negotiation, that you can gain some concessions.

Lease Misunderstandings

Some of the more common sections of business lease agreements that can cause misunderstanding are:

Additional Rent or Common Area Maintenance

Do you really understand all of the costs involved in the lease? Do you know how these costs will be calculated?


The landlord wants protection against possible events but are you covered? If not, your financial exposure may be much higher than you expected.

Renewal Options

What happens when the lease term is up? Have you negotiated any provisions for and terms of renewal? If not, you may have limited options at the end of the initial term.

Assignment Provisions

Can you assign the lease to another party should you decide to sell your business or relocate? If you have no right to assign the lease, your future plans may be in jeopardy.

We really appreciated your patient, supportive approach. Dealing with lawyers can be intimidating for people not experienced in legal matters; you put us at ease immediately. We will always be grateful for your help in successfully getting us through what was a stressful, complicated time in our lives. We found that you and your office staff displayed professionalism and expertise during the entire process of selling our Calgary home and buying our Gibsons property.

- Joe & Mary Davis