Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leasing Retail Space - Foreclosures And Lease Cancellations

In Event of Foreclosure

Foreclosure of a mortgage typically extinguishes all claims to the property. In other words, if you've negotiated a lease and started a business, your right to use the retail space is terminated by foreclosure unless there is a separate agreement.
Will Lender Cancel?

In many cases, the lender has a defined period of time to reject leases or they are assumed to remain intact. Further, lenders often want to retain the leases and tenants to make the property more salable. However, if the rental rate for a lease is well below market rent, and the tenant is clearly successful, the lender would likely terminate the lease and require the tenant to negotiate a new lease at market rent.
Negotiating From a Position of Weakness

The tenants negotiating position is much weaker than it was when he first negotiated the lease. The tenant has a successful business at this location. Changing the location of the business may damage or destroy the business. The tenant's ability to bargain and negotiate lease terms is a weak.
Nondisturbance Clause

Tenants can avoid this dilemma by obtaining an agreement that the lease will not be terminated by foreclosure. This is termed a nondisturbance clause. Landlords are reluctant to grant this concession due to the limitation it imposes on the landlord when obtaining financing.
Maintenance Standards

The definition of maintenance standards is often vague. A typical clause may read that "the landlord will maintain the property in a manner consistent with local practice and a prudent owner".
Personal Guarantees

Landlords love personal guarantees since they substantially limit the tenant's ability to abandon operations at the retail space. Personal guarantees should be avoided by tenants whenever possible. It is reasonable that the tenant repay the unamortized portion of any tenant improvements and leasing commissions if the lease is terminated early. Further, it is reasonable for a tenant to guarantee a minimal level of performance on a building built to its specifications.
Different Rules for Second Generation Space?

However, for second-generation lease space, it is reasonable to request that the tenant not be personally or corporately responsible beyond paying the unamortized portion of tenant improvements and leasing commissions. Although this is reasonable, it may not be possible. The strength of the local rental market and local practice will dictate whether landlords can extract personal guarantees from tenants.
Purchase Option

For single tenant retail buildings, tenants often want a right to purchase the building at a predetermined price. Landlords prefer to avoid this. A compromise is providing the tenant a first right of refusal.
Sublease Issues

Landlords want the tenant to make rental payments throughout the lease term, but don't want the tenant to profit from subleasing the retail space. In some cases, the tenant has the right to sublease the space subject to the landlord's approval. There's often a clause that the landlord's approval shall not be withheld unreasonably. There's also often a clause limiting the types of businesses which can sublease from the tenant. Sublease payments in excess of payments on the primary lease can be an intensely negotiated item.
Minimum Hours of Operation

Some retail centers require fixed hours of operations for each tenant. The concept is great. If a shopper visits the mall, they know each store will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. (or whatever the hours of operation). However, assume you expect to get 90% of your business between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. In some cases, the minimal hours of operations are nonnegotiable. You may need to consider the excess hours of operations part of your occupancy cost.
Dedicated Parking

Dedicated parking is another issue where interests almost always diverge. Tenants love to have parking dedicated to their customers and landlords hate having parking dedicated to any one store. Peak traffic for a store may occur in a short period of time. However, the parking spaces are typically dedicated 24 hours per day. A compromise is the right to put portable signs in front of parking spaces several hours per day consistent with the tenant's peak hours of business.
Expansion Options and First Right of Refusal

Expansion rights and first rights of refusal are less typical for retail than for office. However, assume you are opening a small restaurant in a highly vacant shopping center. You're initially taking 1000 square feet of space but hope to expand the restaurant to five or 10,000 square feet of space. Having the right to take additional space at a previously agreed-upon rental rate and to claim additional space through a first right of refusal can be invaluable. Once the restaurant is successful, negotiating rental rates at a favorable level will be difficult.
Example

For example, assume your restaurant has been operating successfully for two years and you expect to expand the restaurant during the next 12 months. Unfortunately, your landlord tells you he just leased the spaces on either side of you. A first right of refusal for additional space can allow you to avoid this problem. Consider whether the rental rate for the first right of refusal is the rate agreed upon by the landlord and the new tenant or a predetermined rate.

The Market Research and Consulting division of O'Connor & Associates provides information necessary to make decision to commercial real estate professionals. Occupancy and Rental Data, ownership and management information are routinely gathered for four major land uses multifamily, office, retail and industrial. This information allows investors to compare competitive properties, facilitate business decisions and track market and submarket performance.

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