Oct 09, 2020

How to Renegotiate Your Business Lease

Many tenants of both residential and commercial properties forget that they have the ability to negotiate their leases. While a landlord might set a specific amount for rent, you have the ability to counter with a different number that is more favorable to your business. 

However, you need to be strategic about when you do this. If there are dramatic changes to the market or unfavorable conditions for the landlord, they may be more willing to renegotiate in order to keep you as a tenant.

A great example of a market shake-up is the current coronavirus pandemic. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll, 58% of small business owners are worried about permanently closing. Most landlords right now are just happy to collect rent and may be open to negotiation if it keeps their income steady. 

If you are struggling to pay your rent each month—or just think you can get a better deal—follow these tips to effectively negotiate your rent.  

Have a Plan Before the Negotiations

Before you even reach out to your landlord to renegotiate your lease, do your research, and come up with a plan. The main question you need to answer is this: what do you want to get out of the negotiation? 

If you let your landlord set the terms going in, then they can easily make a small offer and you won’t know whether or not you really benefit. A few things to consider as you consider your terms include:

Answering these questions can help you make a reasonable proposal. They will determine how aggressive you are. Plus, they give you multiple cards to play. Even if your landlord doesn’t agree to change your rent, you can still request upgrades to your space, fee reductions, or extensions. 

Be Mindful of Your Lease’s End Date

Negotiations are all about timing. When the pandemic first started, most people thought the lockdowns would end and the virus would blow over within a few weeks. As a result, your landlord might not have been inclined to renegotiate. 

Now, several months in, the situation has only marginally improved. With the current economic outlook, your landlord may be more willing to hear you out. 

Along with keeping the pandemic in mind, look at other factors that add a time crunch to the negotiations. If your lease is about to expire in a few months, you can renegotiate because your landlord knows you might decide to move somewhere else. 

However, remember that negotiations are a two-way street. If your landlord agrees to a lower rate, they might ask you to renew your lease or sign a longer lease agreement. In this case, they prefer financial stability in the long run and are willing to lose a percentage of their income because of it.

Make a Case for Why Your Landlord Should Renegotiate

The negotiation process takes time. You can’t expect to ask for a new rental agreement and sign the papers within the same meeting. You need to prepare your landlord to renegotiate and will likely have multiple meetings and phone calls about the new agreement. Remember, they are doing their research too. They want to find reasons to either reject your negotiation or offer you a smaller discount.

Use the data and information you found to create a case for negotiations. You can point out how other companies aren’t paying rent at all or provide insight into how the real estate market has changed over the past few months or years. You need to show that this adjustment is in their best interest.  

Additionally, look into what your landlord prioritizes. Some people invest in real estate to help their pension funds, which means they would prefer any form of income over months without a tenant. However, other landlords keep real estate as part of an investment portfolio and they won’t want to see their assets devalued because of lower rent. Knowing their financial situation can give you an idea of how flexible they will likely be. 

Rent is typically one of the most significant expenses for a brick-and-mortar business. Even a small drop in your rental fees can have a significant impact on your business. If you do your homework and are reasonable in your negotiations, you may be able to get a better deal from your landlord.

About the author

Derek Miller
Derek Miller
Derek Miller is a writer specializing in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing. His work has featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp. He’s currently the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, and a marketing consultant for small businesses.

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