Here’s a simple technique that has saved several dozen of our clients literally millions of dollars in lease costs, and is very applicable to the changes happening in today’s market. We call it the Tape on the Floor Option.
Many years ago, a utility client asked our firm to help them secure 25,000 SQFT of Class A office space. After some discussion, they revealed that they’d only have about a dozen employees to start although expected to ramp up to about 200 people within 18 months.
We located a building that had four vacant floors of about 25,000 SQFT each and made the landlord the following offer: The landlord would agree to have an entire floor painted and carpeted, and my client would lease just 5,000 SQFT with an option to take additional space at the same rent and a first right of refusal if the landlord found another user for the balance. Further, rather than put up a demising wall, we simply put tape on the floor with the understanding that should the landlord discover that we were occupying beyond the taped boundary, they could charge my client for the entire floor.
Once the lease was signed, we met with the landlord’s rep and explained the growth plans of this VC-backed company and convinced him that it was in both parties’ interest for him to focus his attention on filling the other floors first, since our client was likely to grow into the rest of the floor. In fact, every 2-3 months, we ended up going back to the landlord and moving the tape to capture another few thousand feet to accommodate a few more rows of cubicles. Eventually they did take the entire floor and ultimately we ripped up that lease and executed another for two floors in a different building owned by that landlord.
Here’s the point: This particular client was prepared to take and pay for 25,000SQFT from day one. If the landlord had approached them the day after the lease was signed with another tenant who wanted the remaining space, they would have almost certainly exercised their refusal option and paid the full rent. However, that never happened. Instead, the landlord focused on leasing the other floors, and our client avoided paying full price for the space for well over a year – and earned a six-figure savings in rent.
How you can use this information: 1) It helps to have a flexible landlord with a fair amount of vacancy to make this idea work well, so perhaps favor landlords that fit that profile, 2) You might be looking for ways to contract or minimize expenses and this technique can help, and 3) This is a perfect maneuver for companies that are able to downsize now although would like to stay in their existing space and plan/expect/hope to restore themselves later.
This solution works equally well for office or industrial users. It is often even easier to tape off a warehouse floor along a column line. We’ve done this without even removing racking from the vacated side. The landlord is incentivised to allow the rack to stay in place in case an incoming user might want it, and they avoid paying for a demising wall until that user is found. It goes without saying that this also makes a simple task of the original tenant re-taking the space if business rebounds.
Why not ask your landlord to put the “tape on the floor” and negotiate a lesser rent? Rather than have your space cut down in size, agree to wait until they have another user before the demising wall goes up. Which may be never.