Friday, October 28, 2022

Strategies to Avoid a Massive Rent Increase!

I hosted a webinar yesterday. Our team’s first ever. I’ve watched others - no commercial real estate practitioners, btw - employ these as a way to add value, stay top of mind with clients, and generate new business. Excited was I to try my hand. We were thrilled with the outcome as our room was crowded with a combination of prospects, strategic partners and clients. All who attended found pearls.
So what was discussed? Ways to renew a lease on YOUR terms. A synopsis follows.
The genesis of the Zoom centered around many of our clients receiving a note from their landlords with a whopping rent increase. We believed a counterbalance of sorts was necessary.
Why the BIG increases. Pandemic fueled demand coupled with skimpy supply - little to no new construction in certain size ranges - has caused a classic imbalance which results in price increases.
Know your owner. Owner investors fall into distinct categories - Institutional, Private national, Private regional, and Private local.
An institutional landlord such as ProLogis or Rexford will view rents differently than your neighbor who may own one or two industrial buildings. How you may ask? A building’s worth is capitalized rent. Therefore to an instructional owner, coupon rate is paramount. Many times concessions will be given to keep the rate in tact. Generally, a private owner will be more interested in cash flow and will potentially discount the rent to avoid a costly vacancy.
Your value as a tenant. The most a landlord can achieve is the market rent - which is a look back and a look forward at the transactions that have occurred and the new availabilities. Let’s say that amount is $20,000 per month. With 4% annual increases built in - the maximum she’ll get over a five year term is $1,323,878. But. What will she expend to achieve the market rent? Downtime while the building is shopped, abated rent once a new occupant is located, refurbishing the space, potentially tenant improvements, and brokerage fees. ALL must be subtracted from the total expected. Known as an effective rate - seldom is this equal to the coupon rent. In down markets an owner will spend 20-25% of the future take originating a new lease.
Extensions rights. You may have pre-negotiated your right to stay. Take a look at these clauses - options to renew, terminate, expand and rights of first refusal or first offer. Just remember. Time is of the essence - you must adhere to the periods specified.
Timing. In today’s robust market and scant availability - you may be able to relocate, sublease your remaining term and make money. In some cases, your owner will want a taste, however.
Cost to relocate. The Yang to the Yin of the cost to replace you is the dollars you’ll deliver to move. If you have large machinery, a special purpose use, ISO certifications or a spray booth you will be shocked how expensive it is to alternate quarters. Know these costs. Your landlord with use this as leverage.
Next steps.
Locate a copy of your lease.
Abstract the key dates and terms.
Create a system for assessing the trends.
Schedule an annual virtual or in person meeting with your landlord.
Don’t forget. You have the right to representation. Your owner certainly will have someone.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at or 714.564.7104. His website is

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