Contributed by David LeRoux
If you’re currently renting an office space – whether for a medical office, law practice, retail space, classroom or other business – the time may come when you choose to relocate to another space that you’ve rented or purchased, or even shut the business down entirely.
And while you may be planning for the logistics of the move, you may not be considering the challenges of surrendering your current lease. If you’re not familiar with the lease surrender process or perhaps were not even aware that there was a process, these are a sampling of questions and requirements that you may face.
Any leasing agreement will have requirements governing the condition that your space must be in upon return to the owner. Most requirements are standard but some can be unique. These can include things like sweeping and vacuuming, painting and patching, removing signage, data cabling or phone systems and other specifics.
And while some may be relatively straightforward – such as patching nail holes in the walls – others, like dismantling phone or data cabling from within walls, may require specialized services.
The extent of the requirements will depend in part on whether the space will be renovated after your departure, but if your lease contains rules about the condition of your space you’ll need to know what those are and ensure that you meet them.
A lease surrender service will provide you with the professional assistance you need to restore your space to an appropriate condition.
Whether you’re relocating or going out of business, there’s a good chance you’ll need to dispose of unwanted or old furniture and other equipment. You may be precluded from leaving unwanted items behind or you may be faced with potentially hefty disposal costs.
But there is another option. With a lease surrender service, you may be able to sell your unneeded items for a profit, depending on the quality and demand, or at least for enough to cover the cost of disposal.
If resale is not an option, your service can arrange for recycling, donating, auction or simple disposal.
In addition, a lease surrender service will be connected to industry wholesalers and networks that can provide the appropriate outlet for your saleable items. They will remove, ship, store and ultimately sell your unwanted items more effectively than you could as an individual, but perhaps most importantly, they will eliminate the hassle of liquidation so that you can focus on the move.
As you move or dismantle an office space, you may be considering the obvious – furniture, artwork, desks, equipment, storage units, appliances – but in the digital age you likely have computer equipment, servers, hard drives, faxes or copy machines that also need to be disposed of.
And whether you’re a law office or retail space, you likely also have access to sensitive or confidential data. During a move or business liquidation, it’s important to maintain the integrity and security of digital data, which means that you can’t simply sell or toss old, unused equipment.
A lease surrender service can assist with security by destroying hard drives and storage components prior to recycling or disposing of computer equipment. In addition, they can provide shredding services for sensitive or confidential documents. Both digital data destruction and document shredding can be certified to ensure chain of custody and proof of service.
One of the key ways that a lease surrender service can help with your move is by asking questions. Your business is unique and the space you’ve inhabited is, too. Add in specific lease requirements and just about unlimited options, and there is probably a lot you don’t know about what is expected or even possible. Even a lease surrender service will not know how to best serve you without understanding the specifics of your lease.
That’s why a good service will begin not by telling you what services they provide (they are numerous!) but by asking what services you require. We explored some possibilities here such as cleaning and repairs, but even within those there is variability. For example, if you are required to remove data cabling, are you required to cut it off at the wall or remove it entirely from within the wall?
Are you required to disconnect appliances, plumbing, electrical connections? If electrical work is required, can you hire an electrician or does your lease agreement require you to use an electrician provided by the landlord?
The answers may not always be obvious, even as you read your lease agreement, but a lease surrender service can review the documents with you and suggest questions to ask your landlord so that you’re clear on expectations and requirements.
If this all sounds a bit daunting, the good news is that the job of your lease surrender professional is to take care of these issues so you can stay focused on your own tasks.
But how do you vet and hire an expert? You can begin by asking your moving company if they provide lease surrender services and if not, whether they can recommend someone to you. You can also ask your landlord or property manager for a referral. Word of mouth referral is typically a decent source for a quality professional.
But don’t stop there – ask your prospective service provider for references and be sure to check them.
It’s a good idea to review your lease before hiring a service so that during the interview process you can ask questions about whether your prospective service can accommodate your needs.
And since budget is always a factor in choosing a vendor, find out whether the services are provided by on-staff crew or outsourced to subcontractors. Typically, subcontracted services will be higher in cost than those kept in-house. In fact, if you can find a moving company that also provides lease surrender services, you’ll not only have a single point of contact for a smoother transition, but your costs will likely be lower, too, since your moving company may already have included basic service fees.
Finally, recognize that there are a lot of “what ifs” and too many variables to list. That means you’ll want to hire a company not only with experience but with top notch project managers who will implement tested procedures so that your move will be completed effectively, in a timely fashion and on budget.
Be sure that a vendor spends time asking you questions, discussing your requirements, visiting your location to understand your needs and exploring your options.
A move or business liquidation can be a stressful time, no matter how well planned. But choosing the right professionals can smooth the path and eliminate much of the hassle.
If you have questions about how we can help with your move or lease surrender, contact us for more information.