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veterinary office leases
Perhaps the most important feature of an veterinary practice is the veterinary office lease. The provisions and clauses contained in this document will determine what kind of practice you will have—what fixtures you can have, how much you will pay each year, and when you can complete your term. You should approach your veterinary office lease carefully.
There's no such thing as a standard lease
First of all, you should discard the idea that you are being presented a general or “standard lease.” It simply doesn’t exist. And if a landlord insists that he or she only presents an immutable standard lease, you need to approach it with caution.
You need to understand that every veterinary office lease is always going to favor the landlord. Veterinary office lease agreements should be carefully reviewed and compared to your veterinary practice’s needs and goals.
Who should negotiate your lease?
You are certainly not required to hire an attorney to sort out your veterinary office lease agreement. However, you should know that you are receiving a lease agreement that was drafted by an experienced attorney and negotiated by an experienced broker. We encourage you to consider representation to review the veterinary lease, especially if this if your first veterinary office. We can help you save in rent, mitigate against risks, and remove needless liabilities—all expenses that are well-worth the future protections for your optometry practice.
What aspects of the lease should you be concerned with?
Every veterinary office lease is different, so there is no standard answer to this question. Furthermore, every veterinary office has different staffing needs, different financial positions, and different goals. The following items should be considered when reviewing veterinary office lease agreements:
- Exclusivity. Can your landlord put you in one space in the building, and the next week rent out another space to your competitor?
- Relocation. Many leases retain the right for the landlord to relocate you to a different space in the same building.
- Death or Disability. Who will take care of your lease agreements and practice if you suffer an accident and die or become seriously disabled? Will your insurance premiums have to go to your landlord and not your spouse?
- Terminations. How can you terminate the lease, and under what circumstances? If you are three years into a ten year lease and a former mentor makes you an offer you cannot refuse in another town, does that mean you are bound to your current lease?
- Assignments. Will you be prevented from selling your practice until the end of the lease? If so, what kind of liability does that appear in the potential buyer's mind?
Bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. Every word of the lease can have legal effect, and should therefore be closely examined.