Include “Duty to Repair” clauses in commercial leases

| Sep 28, 2020 | Real Estate Law |

You have a great idea for a new business in your region. You researched the market, queried suppliers and located the perfect location for your new storefront. Before signing the lease, you may want a legal professional to review the contract.

Florida commercial leases often come with a few clauses that new business owners must understand. A “Duty to Repair” clause often surprises lessees when something goes wrong with their new property.

Florida landlords have a limited obligation to conduct repairs

In most commercial and residential leases, landlords take responsibility for repairs on the premises. Should problems occur with the infrastructure or equipment essential to the business and property’s function, the landlord schedules and oversees all repairs.

Florida law does not require this arrangement, however. Standard commercial leases in the Sunshine State do not require landlords to perform this maintenance as a default. Without these clauses, tenants must cover these repair and maintenance costs, potentially shutting down business operations for the duration. Florida law requires that commercial leases explicitly state the maintenance duties of the landlord. Even if a lease says that a tenant is not responsible for repairs, courts may rule that the tenant must cover the cost if the lease did not identify the landlord’s duty to cover that specific repair.

How “Duty to Repair” clauses can help

To combat this, lawyers familiar with commercial real estate help their clients by including “Duty to Repair” clauses in these leases. Lessees can include the following clauses to help cover the eventualities of wear and tear:

  • A provision that allows the tenant to perform repairs themselves, with the tenant covering the cost through reimbursement or a temporary rent reduction.
  • A provision that makes the landlord liable for any loss to business due to a premises defect.
  • A provision that mandates rent reduction for as long as a defect remains.

A real estate lawyer can answer your questions

Real estate is one of the heaviest expenses for small business owners. You can prevent unforeseen repair expenses with comprehensive lease agreements designed by a lawyer familiar with Florida’s commercial real estate laws.