Leasing a warehouse for the first time? Here are some tips

Every business has to start somewhere. When you're first starting out, you probably don't want to invest heavily in any real estate, so that means getting a lease. It's smart to remember that leasing a piece of commercial property, however, is nothing like signing a residential lease. There's a lot more room to negotiate, you have less protection against abuses and the consequences of a mistake are usually bigger.

If you're about to lease a warehouse for your business for the first time, here's what you need to remember:

  1. Understand your operating costs. Rent is just part of what you'll end up paying. You need to understand what kind of insurance you need to carry and what maintenance fees and other expenses you'll have.

  2. Make sure the zoning is correct. Just because the space is a warehouse, that doesn't mean your business is allowed to operate there. Do your research before you dive in.

  3. Look at the layout carefully. Spend some time making sure that the ceilings are the right height, the floor can handle the load you need it to and that there are enough loading docks for your needs.

  4. Look at the parking lot. If you can't provide parking for your suppliers or trucks and your employees don't have enough room to park, that could be a serious issue.

  5. Find out if the HVAC system is right for you. Depending on the nature of your operation, you may need more climate control than the building currently offers. There can also be environmental issues that come into play.

Finally, don't sign that lease without talking things over with an experienced attorney. Commercial leases are complex, and you don't want to find yourself trapped in a bad contract.