Virginia Commercial Leases: 5 Things to Know

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by | April 17, 2024

Commercial leases in Virginia are essential legal documents that govern the relationship between landlords and tenants in commercial real estate transactions. Whether you are a landlord leasing out property or a tenant seeking space for your Virginia business, understanding the key legal aspects of commercial leases is crucial for protecting your rights and interests.

Our Corporate and Civil Litigation Practice Group represents corporations and individuals across Virginia and Washington, DC. We are located in the heart of Alexandria and we commonly represent Arlington County and Fairfax County, among other jurisdictions.

Here, we will explore five important things to know about commercial leases from a legal perspective.

Review Commercial Lease Terms and Renewal Options

One of the first considerations in a commercial lease is the duration of the lease term. Commercial leases typically have longer terms than residential leases, ranging from three to ten years or more. It’s important to carefully negotiate and clearly define the initial lease term, as well as any renewal options or terms for extending the lease beyond the initial term. Understanding your rights and obligations regarding lease renewal can help avoid disputes and ensure continuity for your business operations.

Commercial Lease Rent and Additional Costs

Commercial leases often involve complex rent structures, including base rent, percentage rent, and additional costs such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities. It’s essential to carefully review the lease agreement to understand how rent is calculated and any additional costs that may be passed on to the tenant. Negotiating favorable rent terms and clearly defining the allocation of additional costs can help mitigate financial risks and avoid unexpected expenses during the lease term.

Use and Occupancy Restrictions

Commercial leases typically include provisions specifying the permitted use of the leased premises and any restrictions on occupancy. These provisions outline the intended purpose for which the space can be used and may restrict certain activities or business operations. Understanding and complying with use and occupancy restrictions is critical to avoiding breaches of the lease agreement and potential legal consequences. Tenants should also consider negotiating flexibility in permitted uses to accommodate future business needs.

Maintenance and Repairs

Commercial leases often allocate responsibilities for maintenance, repairs, and improvements between landlords and tenants. It’s essential to clearly delineate these obligations in the lease agreement to avoid disputes over maintenance issues and ensure that the property is properly maintained throughout the lease term. Tenants should carefully review their maintenance obligations and seek provisions requiring landlords to maintain the structural integrity of the premises and address major repairs and maintenance issues promptly.

Commercial Lease Default and Termination

Commercial leases typically include provisions outlining the rights and remedies available to landlords and tenants in the event of default or termination of the lease agreement. It’s important to understand the circumstances that constitute default, such as non-payment of rent, breach of lease terms, or insolvency, and the consequences that may follow, such as eviction, lease termination, or legal action. Both landlords and tenants should carefully negotiate default provisions and consider including remedies such as cure periods, termination rights, and dispute resolution mechanisms to protect their interests.

Navigating the complexities of commercial leases requires careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the legal implications involved. By considering these five essential legal considerations when entering into a commercial lease agreement, landlords and tenants can negotiate favorable terms, protect their rights, and minimize the risk of disputes and legal issues throughout the lease term.

Consult with Experienced Virginia Attorneys

Consulting with experienced real estate attorneys can provide valuable guidance and assistance in drafting and negotiating commercial lease agreements that meet your specific needs and objectives. Contact our Office for more information or to schedule a consultation.