Do you need a lease?
A lease will give you a sense of permanence. You won’t be “fly-by-night”. On the other hand, it locks your organization into a financial commitment of a set duration. Which leads us to:
How long of a lease do you need?
How long do you expect to be around? For how long do you have funding and how dependable is your funding? How stable are your space needs? Are you likely to grow or shrink dramatically during the lease period?
How much is the rent and is it reasonable?
Clearly this is related to how much can you confidently afford (see question 2), but you also want to be comfortable that what you are paying is competitive in the area you are locating. You should always try to look at some comparable properties to assure yourself you are not overpaying.
Who pays for utilities?
It is important to know who pays for such services as cleaning and janitorial, air conditioning, and any other charges not covered in the rent. If it’s the landlord who pays be sure that it’s a fair amount and you are not being over-charged.
Can you get out if you lose your funding?
It never hurts to ask. What are the penalties if you do have to break the lease? These things happen and you want to know, up front, what the penalties are.
Who will pay for alterations — you or the landlord? What changes are you permitted to make? What is the landlord willing to do to modify the space? Will the space meet your needs over the term of the lease?
Leases, especially in New York City, can be complicated and confusing. Feel free to contact Gray Matters if you want one of our experienced real estate experts to advise you before you commit. At no charge, of course!
By Gray Matters Member Alvin Green