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The Build-Out Process : One Simple Way to Save Time and Money

For years, the process of planning a commercial build-out has been a slow moving and somewhat tedious game of guessing and waiting.

It consists of handing off an idea to one professional who might make a few changes before sending it off to the next one. This typically results in a great deal of time spent and gaps in communication that could have prevented unnecessary work, frustration, and expense.

When your company is preparing for a move or expansion, make the build-out process as efficient as possible by doing one very simple thing.

Get all of your professionals into a room at the same time. With modern technology, this could mean a video conference if an in-person meeting is too difficult to schedule. Have an open discussion with your company VP’s, your real estate professional, architect, contractor, and any other relevant people who may be involved.

Come to an agreement at the start about timing, expectations, and money.

This puts everyone on the same page and gets the ball rolling in the right direction. Rather than only focusing only on their own small piece of the puzzle, the bigger picture is known to all. Honest feedback and discussion can take place to establish workable parameters and, ideally, everyone’s part becomes a little easier.

An added bonus.

Collaboration is a great networking opportunity. It is to your advantage and theirs that they each come to this meeting with their best feet forward. Rather than hiding behind a desk and noting a name on the paperwork, they get to shake hands, talk, expand their knowledge and co-create a great working environment. Win-win.

Looking to move or expand your space? Contact Ryan Hartsell with questions or assistance to purchase or lease commercial real estate in and around the Houston, Texas area.

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Defining Reasonable Wear and Tear

What is the “reasonable wear and tear” condition of a premises?

It is important to understand your landlord’s definition of this term when signing a new lease or renewal. This can prevent unexpected costs and stress when it’s time to move. A landlord wants to preserve as much cash as possible when a tenant vacates. Finding a replacement tenant and preparing the space can be a significant cost. If a landlord can pass those costs on, he or she probably will. That can mean that “reasonable wear and tear condition” includes at least a portion of the landlord’s costs to prep for an incoming tenant.

“Reasonable wear and tear” is a matter of opinion.

A tenant can save money, frustration, and potential legal issues when they leave by outlining and agreeing what the specific expectations are in the lease. In some cases, a tenant will receive a landlord improvement allowance upon taking occupancy. That doesn’t mean they are obligated to reimburse those costs when they move or cover those same costs for the next tenant. This is especially true if a tenant has occupied a space for a significant period of time.

 

Companies can be so focused on what is entailed to move into a new space that considerations about vacating it are overlooked.

A landlord should certainly have recourse when it comes to property damage. It is essential to Agree on what is considered damage and what is normal wear and tear. It is to everyone’s benefit to ensure there is a fair balance and that all parties agree about the defined terms.

 

Any questions? Contact Ryan at [email protected] or (713) 840-8528.

Ryan J. Hartsell, SIOR, MRE, Principal, and Managing Partner of Oxford Partners LLC, is the architect of a highly successful career in the commercial real estate industry. He is recognized by his clients for his attentiveness, market knowledge, and negotiation prowess. He holds a master’s degree in commercial real estate and a bachelor’s degree in finance. As a third generation Houstonian and Principal of Oxford Partners, he has a unique appreciation for the business owners’ challenges by way of his own personal experience, which translates into better representation and empathy for his clients. Contact Ryan to discuss your commercial real estate needs.

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Commencement Dates

Commencement Dates

The Commencement Date language in your commercial lease agreement is a particularly important detail not to be overlooked. As a tenant, you need to protect yourself against any unplanned delays in taking possession. If a new lease commences prior to moving in, you could be setting yourself up for a lot of additional costs and even potential legal issues with your current landlord.

To protect yourself from unexpected costs and logistic issues regarding lease commencement, your lease should state that “The Commencement Date will be the later of the 1st of the given month or the first of the month following delivery of the Premises by the Landlord”. You should also include “with substantial completion of construction” and request a CoC (Certificate of Occupancy). A CoC is a government issued document that confirms the building
construction is compliant with codes and the space is suitable for occupancy.

You can protect yourself further by including in the lease terms that the Landlord will pay a specific amount of money to the tenant for each determined period of time in which occupancy is delayed. That amount should equal the new rent costs plus any holdover penalty and any damages charged by the existing landlord if the tenant is liable for such costs. It is also wise to include a provision for terminating the contract without penalty if the lease has not
commenced by a certain date.

Any questions? Contact Ryan at  [email protected] or  (713) 840-8528.

Ryan J. Hartsell , SIOR, MRE, Principal, and Managing Partner of Oxford Partners LLC, focuses on reducing the cost and risk associated with leasing and purchasing office and industrial property. He is recognized by his clients for his attentiveness, market knowledge, and negotiation prowess. He holds a master’s degree in commercial real estate and a bachelor’s degree in finance. As a third generation Houstonian and Principal of Oxford Partners, he has a unique appreciation for the business owners’ challenges by way of his own personal experience, which translates into better representation and empathy for his clients.  

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6 Reasons to Audit Your Building’s Operating Expenses

Prevent Overpayment of Your Company’s Leasehold Expenses

Real estate and leasehold expenses are among the most impactful upon your company’s bottom line. It is an essential element of any company’s fiscal management to ensure that it does not overpay. Auditing your landlord issued expenses is your right. Lease auditing has become a common and expected practice. Here are 6 indicators that suggest your business may benefit from conducting a lease audit.

1. Increases to the Building’s Operating Expenses 

Perform a basic trend analysis of annual operating expense obligation if you notice a significant increase. Inflation and changing market conditions can contribute to increased operating expenses but if there is a significant jump issued to you, ask questions. A large increase may be due to an impermissible capital project, expense categories not reflected in your base year, vendor changes, or above standard services.

2. New Property Owner

A change in property ownership might trigger a lease audit.
Management fee levels, new vendors, and changing service levels are common issues when a building changes ownership or management. Another concern is the tenant estoppel which, if not carefully worded, has the potential to sign away rights or leverage.

3. Building Renovations or Upgrades

Renovations and capital projects may be subject to your lease operating expenses exclusions. Every project should be audited for permissibility under your lease. While you are most likely obligated to reimburse the landlord for a genuine building operating cost, you probably are not obligated to reimburse your landlord for increasing the value of his or her building if it does not reduce building operating costs in the future. If your building underwent renovations and/or capital improvements in the past, those costs were most likely amortized across future years. You may still be able to avoid ongoing expenses if they prove to be impermissible per your lease exclusions.

4. Your Lease is Commencing or Expiring

Perhaps the most valuable times to perform a lease audit are at the commencement and expiration of
your lease. If you occupy under a base year lease, the valuation of your base year will have a material impact
on your leasehold expenses throughout the remainder of the term. It is in your interest to validate all
charges and to validate expense levels in year one so as to not undervalue your base year. Likewise, lease
audits should always be performed as a standard practice at any lease expiration. Not only might you lose
rights to recoup any overcharges after vacating the premises, but you may lose significant leverages after
relocating.

5. Dramatic Change in Building Occupancy Levels

Accounting for accurate building occupancy levels can have enormous implications for your operating
expense obligation. This can be magnified with regard to fixed versus variable expenses. If the vacancy
rate in your building is sizable, it benefits the fiscally conscious tenant to ensure that occupancy shifts are
accurately reflected within a given expense period.

6. Limited Support for Operating Expense Increase

A lease audit should automatically be triggered whenever an annual reconciliation is provided without sufficient back-up to verify expenses and calculations. Year-end reconciliations can carry significant financial impact. This is particularly true if your lease terms include caps or index-driven escalators. Any failure to timely challenge a landlord’s computations and/or inclusions may forfeit your rights thereafter. Accepting a rudimentary reconciliation is to trust your company’s finances to an outside party with a vested interest in maximizing its profits.

Any questions? Contact Ryan at  [email protected] or  (713) 840-8528.

Ryan J. Hartsell , SIOR, MRE, Principal, and Managing Partner of Oxford Partners LLC, focuses on reducing the cost and risk associated with leasing and purchasing office and industrial property. He is recognized by his clients for his attentiveness, market knowledge, and negotiation prowess. He holds a master’s degree in commercial real estate and a bachelor’s degree in finance. As a third generation Houstonian and Principal of Oxford Partners, he has a unique appreciation for the business owners’ challenges by way of his own personal experience, which translates into better representation and empathy for his clients.