One of the staunchest changes COVID-19 brought to town is the dramatic reconfiguring of the workplace environment and location. While most people were accustomed to commuting to work every day and working amongst their colleagues in traditional office quarters, we soon learned that this office-based environment is not necessarily required for a business to remain successful and viable. 

However, as excited as some employees may be about this abrupt change, it is having a significant impact on the commercial real-estate business. Many commercial landowners are now finding themselves in a couple of unpleasant situations. Either former tenants have closed their businesses and can no longer make payments on their leases, or leases are not being renewed. And while this appears to be a negative, it is possible to find some true advantages to the circumstances. This change allows property owners to consider some of the following actions to combat the downside of owning commercial real estate. 

  • Re-size spaces to accommodate smaller more centralized mini offices for larger corporations
  • Create individual offices that a single working person can use to combat in-home work distractions
  • Offer shared space options; allow more than one company to use a single space on different days of the week
  • Provide community incentives such as including the provision of coffee and water in the price of the lease
  • Be flexible to the individual needs a tenant might have

On the other hand, if you are a business that cannot operate with your employees permanently working from home, now is a good time to talk with your commercial landlord about getting a bit more for your money or reducing the cost of your lease. With many businesses leaving spaces empty, landlords are likely to be willing to work to accommodate your costs and your businesses unique needs. For example, as a tenant you might want to request some of the following changes in exchange for renewing your lease;

  • A reduction in the cost of the lease per month based upon using less space to house our employees
  • A larger commercial space for the same monthly cost as your current space in exchange for signing a new one-year lease (rather than moving out entirely)
  • Requesting changes to your office configuration at no additional cost
  • Replacing any items that are included in the lease; for example, newer more efficient appliances or technology

If you are considering starting a new business during this time and you are shopping for commercial space for the first time, you are also at an advantage. With fewer businesses looking to rent space you will have more to choose from. You will also be in a better position to request the landlord make changes to the property you are considering at no cost to you. Some of the terms and details you might be in a better place to negotiate include;

  1. Cost per square foot of the space you want
  2. Shorter or longer lease agreements which lock in the cost of the space being rented
  3. Alterations or retrofitting of the space to meet your particular needs
  4. Reducing the restrictions on subleasing part of the space you are acquiring
  5. Decreased security deposits
  6. Inclusion of the cost of utilities in the lease agreement or needed parking spaces

While the change to our workplace structure has been abrupt and disruptive for many, it is also a chance to seize the opportunity to make changes to your commercial properties and leasing strategies to accommodate a new market. There will emerge new commercial space needs and if you are flexible it is possible that these changes will bring great growth to the commercial property industry.

If you find yourself in need of assistance with this or any other legal issue, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.