The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited in Columbus, Ohio frequently negotiate lease terms on behalf of dental clients. In the article titled Common Lease Terms to Protect your Dental Practice, we discussed some key provisions that all dentists should negotiate into a lease agreement to better protect their investment in their dental practice. In particular, we focused our discussion in that article on provisions addressing exclusivity, the lease term, and use restrictions. Unfortunately, many dentists treat their lease agreement as an afterthought, and only consider basic terms such as the rental rate and lease term. But, there are other important terms that warrant your consideration and should be included in your lease. In addition to the provisions mentioned above, parking and signage are two additional terms that should be carefully considered and negotiated with the landlord.
Imagine that you have just purchased a dental practice with great growth potential in an underserved market. You are eager to begin marketing the practice, attending community events, and growing your patient base. The dental office that you are leasing is part of a health complex that appears to have an abundance of parking, so you simply relied on the selling doctor’s representation that parking has never been an issue. Six months into operating your new practice, however, you begin to realize that there are insufficient parking spaces to serve your patients and new staff members. You approach your landlord about the problem and are dismayed when you learn that parking for the health complex is first-come-first-serve, and there is nothing the landlord can do.
You can now appreciate the importance of asking the right questions and ensuring there is sufficient parking to meet your practice’s needs prior to signing a lease agreement.
- Is the parking lot considered a common area that is accessible by all tenants in the building and their invitees on a first-come-first-serve basis?
- Are there parking spaces that are designated for your office? If not, is the landlord willing to designate a certain number of spots to exclusively serve your practice?
- Is it important to you that your practice’s doctors have designated spaces marked with a sign near the building entrance?
- If your practice is located in a retail center, what types of businesses do your neighboring tenants operate? For instance, maybe parking appears to be lacking, but one of your neighbors is a restaurant that does not serve lunch and opens after 5:00 p.m. Thus, access to parking is not an issue during business hours.
These are the types of questions that you should be asking and addressing as part of the lease negotiations, not after signing a ten-year lease. Often, the landlord is willing to make concessions on these issues in order to secure a long-term lease from a dental practice tenant. But, if you do not identify potential parking issues up front, and then take the initiative to ask for what you want, you could end up with a parking situation that harms or inhibits future growth of your practice.
Signage is another lease term that is often not given due consideration. The visibility of a dental practice’s signage and the permitted numbers and types of signs can certainly impact a practice’s business, either negatively or positively. To avoid any miscommunication with the landlord regarding the permitted type and location of signage, you should specifically raise this issue with the landlord prior to signing a lease and should make sure the lease clearly articulates what is permitted. For instance, are you permitted to include your dental practice name on a monument sign or a pole sign near the entrance to the health complex or retail center where your office is located? Are you required to obtain the landlord’s prior written approval to any proposed signage, or do you have full discretion to install whatever signage you desire? Does the landlord allow signage to be affixed to the building’s brick façade?
Again, these are simply examples of the questions that should be asked during lease negotiations, and specifically addressed in the lease to avoid disputes.
Contact Nardone Limited
The dental attorneys at Nardone Limited have vast experience negotiating lease agreements on behalf of their dental clients. If you need guidance regarding a lease agreement for your dental practice office, contact Nardone Limited.