Renting A Commercial Space: What Are Your Maintenance Responsibilities?

If you are renting a commercial space for the first time, you'll soon learn that being a business tenant is different than being a residential tenant. As a residential tenant, you could call your property management company to handle almost everything with the property, including appliance repairs and any sort of maintenance issue. 

However, commercial leases are often much more "hands off," placing more responsibility in the hands of the tenant for maintenance. These maintenance costs should be part of your business budget. Here are some typical maintenance expenses you should plan for as you move into your commercially-leased space. 

1. System updates and breakdowns.

When you rent a house, you can call the landlord when your air conditioning stops working. However, in most commercial spaces, these systems are the responsibility of the tenant. In larger buildings with a huge central AC system, this might be different, but restaurants and individual offices should budget for their own heating and cooling repairs.

The same goes for other essential systems. Electrical repairs and plumbing may also be the responsibility of the tenant, but required under contract to be done by a professional. To make things easier on yourself, contract to some local companies to do routine inspections and basic maintenance to prevent expensive breakdowns and inefficiencies. For example, your furnace still needs filter changes. In the day to day demands of your business, it's easy to forget the small things that make a big difference. 

2. Trash removal.

You will need to make sure the space is properly cleared of trash, especially with a business with a high waste output. This might mean hiring a dumpster service to haul off trash every few days instead of relying on city-wide services that come by once per week. Piling up trash reduces the value of the building, which is prevented in most leases. 

3. Non-structural repairs and replacements.

If a carpet becomes badly stained of ripped during your tenancy, it's up to you to replace it. You also might need to see to things like repainting lines in the parking lot, making sure light fixtures are working, and repairing wear and tear damage to walls. 

Non-structural elements of a property are almost always the responsibility of the tenant, but essential portions of the building are not You cannot make changes to major systems (beyond required repairs), nor can you move walls or make changes to essential landscape and foundational structure. 

If you are concerned about knowing your responsibilities, be sure the lease for your property is extensive and detailed. 

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