Finding a space to operate your business can be more complicated than you expect. Of course, there is the challenge of finding a place that is in the right location and isn’t too expensive, and you may also need to negotiate terms of a lease agreement with the property owner. 

Complications can also arise if you learn that the space you leased to run your business is actually not zoned for commercial use. This can create serious problems and added expenses, so you should confirm a few things before signing a lease agreement to ensure you do not end up with unusable space.

If you are interested in a particular commercial property, ask yourself — and the property owner — some important questions before you agree to anything.

  1. Is the space still zoned for commercial use? Just because a space was used for commercial purposes before doesn’t mean that it is currently zoned as commercial space.
  2. Did the previous tenant have special permission to operate a business on the property? If so, they would have secured a variance, which would not carry over to other businesses.
  3. Are there any restrictions on things like parking or signage as part of the zoning laws?
  4. Can you include a contingency clause in your lease that allows you to cancel the contract if the space is not approved as commercial space?

Clearing up these questions can give you a much better idea of how you can or cannot use property that you wish to lease, which can allow you to avoid making the unfortunate mistake of leasing non-commercial property.

Having the guidance and support of an attorney when you are negotiating commercial leases or reviewing zoning laws can help you avoid many costly legal problems related to commercial property.