I often encounter the situation where a business owner has inked a deal, the most common example being a commercial lease, and then had some questions and doubts about it.

By way of stating the obvious, a lawyer is considerably better able to help you if they can address the situation before you sign. To put it another way, don’t sign significant contracts until your lawyer says you can.

Commercial Leases, for Example

The commercial lease scenario is particularly troubling, because such leases tend to be for a long term, several years, sometimes even more than ten years.

Watch out for “additional rent” elements in a lease, as these will drive up your cost. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a “base rent” and then “additional rent” costs. But make sure you understand what the total cost of all this will be, because that’s the number that matters most to you. Well, that and the provisions for rent escalation over time. Remember, too, that any and all of this is potentially negotiable.

Here’s a potential pitfall in commercial leases: Confession of Judgement. This is a term that allows the landlord to enter a judgement against you without you being there. Lots of states prohibit this kind of clause, but plenty of others don’t.

The Larger Issue

The larger issue, though, isn’t so much these particular issues in commercial leases, but that the major contracts and agreements that a business enters into are not areas where you want to expose yourself to unexpected risks or downsides. You’ll do better with a business attorney at your side, reviewing the documents and, if necessary, advocating on your behalf.