by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Leasing Game: Terms & Conditions

The Leasing Game: Terms & Conditions

by David Klemt

Rich Uncle Pennybags graffiti

Understanding the ins and outs of the leasing game means knowing the meaning of several legal and industry terms.

Winning at this game also requires a deep understanding of everything that’s in your lease agreement.

I addressed the importance of negotiating your lease (and more) yesterday. Today, let’s go over the terms you need to know.

A Warning

Before I run down a list of terms (as in phrases), let’s go over other terms you need to understand.

Namely, the terms for which you negotiated before you signed your lease. Let me reiterate: You know all of this before you sign your lease.

Do not sign anything unless you understand every word of every sentence in every paragraph on every page. If that seems overwhelming, pay a lease agreement attorney to analyze and advise you on a lease. It’s worth the spend, and please do this before you sign anything.

Why a lease agreement or real estate attorney? Because a lease agreement is a legal document. You don’t sign legal documents without knowing what’s in them.

Some Context

Based on the number of hospitality professionals that descended on Las Vegas last week, trade shows and conferences are back in full force.

KRG Hospitality attended the 2022 Bar & Restaurant Expo, formerly the Nightclub & Bar Show.

Friends of KRG, Invictus Hospitality (IH), presented a handful of sessions during the show. One of these was “Understanding the Leasing Game & How to Get Ahead.”

As I wrote yesterday, IH principal Homan Taghdiri hosted the informative session. He shared a wealth of knowledge every operator, new or veteran, should know.

The first bit of information was this: Know that you have the right to negotiate your lease. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying or they don’t know what they’re talking about.

As for the second piece of advice, see the section above this one.

Know These Terms

In this context, “terms” means words and phrases. Below is a list of terms that Taghdiri addressed during his session.

Note that I’m not sharing definitions, I’m sharing recommendations from Taghdiri’s session.

  • Tenant. This is you—individually—if you don’t have a business or other properties for a landlord to go after (sue).
  • Guarantor. You can negotiate the removal of your personal guarantee. As an example, Taghdiri suggested a clause stipulating if you pay on time for ten years, your personal guarantee is removed. After all, you’ve proven yourself for a decade.
  • Security deposit. Again, you should be rewarded for proving yourself and your concept. Negotiate a security deposit burn-off, like a month of security deposit removed from every year of the agreement.
  • Use of space. You need to know the following: current and future use(s) of the space; exclusive and competitive uses; obtaining conditional use permits and licenses. Bake in the ability to pivot, adjust, or modify your agreement. The pandemic exposed how important it is to understand use of space in several markets.
  • Force majeure. Another element exposed by the pandemic. Including a pandemic specifically as a valid force majeure trigger is a smart move on the tenant’s part.

Moving into the Space

Are you building the space out or is the landlord? Is it a combination of both?

Who’s responsible for delays? Is the landlord responsible for upgrades or refreshes over time?

You need to negotiate for and understand the following:

  • Premises delivery. When do you get the space? What’s the scope of work that the landlord must complete for delivery of the space? Is there a tenant already in the space? If so, when are they leaving? What if they don’t leave on time?
  • Landlord’s obligations. Is the landlord responsible for the HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and/or plumbing systems? Are they responsible for the roof on the building, the windows, and maintaining ADA compliance? Who’s responsible for the common areas, such as the parking lot and the lot’s lighting? As an example, how often are they required to repair, refresh, or resurface the parking lot?
  • Insurance requirements. You need to know what coverage, deductibles, and exclusions you’re agreeing to before you sign your lease. Taghdiri recommends asking for the proposed insurance clause and sending it to your insurance provider. If you can’t afford their insurance requirements, you can’t afford the space and need to walk away.
  • Miscellaneous. What are the security requirements for the space you’re occupying? For example, if you’re a nightclub, the landlord may stipulate how many security personnel must be working on certain days during specific hours of operation. Speaking of which, what days are you required to be open? What’s the minimum number of hours you must operate each day of the week? Should you find yourself in a shopping center with anchors, what happens if an anchor leaves? Are you required to address sound abatement?

Avoid Pitfalls

Understand the following before you sign anything:

  • Nobody can force you to sign a lease. Since there’s no such thing as a standard lease, you don’t have to accept whatever the landlord offers. If you don’t like the terms, don’t sign the lease.
  • Remember, a lease agreement is a legal document. Fully review and understand the terms. Never sign anything blindly.
  • Brokers aren’t “bad” but they’re not necessarily putting your needs before their own interests. If you’re going to work with a broker, find the right one for you.
  • Just like you need to find the right broker if you go that route, you need the right legal representation. Legal fees are worth it to understand your lease agreement. Just make sure you’re going to the right person to review it and give you advice.*

Combined with a willingness to negotiate (and walk away if you can’t get the terms you want), an understanding of the terms on this page will put you ahead of the competition. Happy space hunting.

*The information contained in this article does not represent legal or financial advice from any representative of KRG Hospitality, Invictus Hospitality, Bar & Restaurant Expo, or Questex.

Image: BP Miller on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This is How You Win When Leasing

This is How You Win When Leasing

by David Klemt

Vintage sale or lease sign in Minnesota

At this year’s Bar & Restaurant Expo, the Invictus Hospitality team tackled a crucial step of any project: The lease.

Invictus (IH), friends of KRG Hospitality, know a thing or two when it comes to leasing a space. Principal Homan Taghdiri is a tenacious negotiator.

Case in point, an Invictus project in Orlando that opened during the pandemic. The space was owned by the city, which can certainly complicate matters. Taghdiri sunk his teeth in and refused to let go—for seven months. That’s crocodile or Komodo dragon patience.

The result? Favorable terms and massive cost savings.

Taghdiri presented “Understanding the Leasing Game & How to Get Ahead” at Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022. You know this show by its former name, Nightclub & Bar.

Knowing that when Taghdiri smells blood in the leasing water he’ll clamp down and death roll until he gets his way, I attended his session.

Before we dive in, know this: If we disagreed with the IH approach to leases, we wouldn’t share their tips. The information below would cost, as Taghdiri points out, about $2,000 coming from an attorney.

Of course, neither KRG Hospitality nor Invictus Hospitality is providing legal or financial advice in this article. I’m just passing along information, as IH was doing during their session.

Leasing Dos and Don’ts

If you take nothing else from this article and Taghdiri’s session, make it this tip: Do negotiate your lease.

“You have to negotiate your lease,” says Taghdiri. “It is a must.”

Not you should. Not you can. You must negotiate your lease. Neither of us can emphasize this enough.

In fact, it’s your right to do so. Which brings us to our first leasing don’t. Do not believe anyone who says you can’t negotiate a lease.

“Anyone who tells you that you can’t negotiate your lease is lying to you,” says Taghdiri.

And if they’re not lying, they just don’t know what they’re talking about. Either way, don’t listen to them. Walk or run away.

Also, do your due diligence. Knowing what you’re getting into before signing is on you. Taghdiri recommends you ask the following before signing anything:

  • What generation is the space? Is it brand-new? It’s first generation. Did the first tenant leave? It’s second-generation, and so on.
  • Is the space totally empty?
  • Does it have space allocated for gas, electric, etc.?

Ideally, you’ll find a second-, third- of fourth-generation bar or restaurant space. Why? They can provide massive cost savings to you.

Do fight for the terms that are important to you. These include amount of the lease, the length of the lease, and any incentives.

However, don’t over-negotiate your lease. Do put yourself in the landlord’s position. They’ve invested significant capital developing the space and they need an ROI. Pick your most important terms and negotiate them. You risk a landlord walking away from a deal if you negotiate every single item and make things difficult.

Lease Types

So, you’ve found your perfect space. Do you know which type of lease you want? Not certain which is right for you?

No problem, because Taghdiri broke them down during his session.

  • Standard. This is the easiest to explain because it doesn’t exist. A particular landlord may have “standard” lease, but their isn’t one that spans the industry.
  • Full service gross is the easiest of the actual leases. Everything is negotiated and clear in the lease, and you simply pay the agreed-upon amount.
  • Triple net is the opposite of the FSG lease. You pay your base rent. Then, your landlord passes on operational costs to you, which you also pay.
  • Percentage Rent. Basically, this is a hybrid lease. You pay base rent plus a percentage of sales. For example, you may pay natural breakpoint on top of base rent. This type of lease can be beneficial to newer businesses. However, some landlords do not like percentage rent leases.
  • Modified gross is, basically, any lease that isn’t an FSG. This is the most common lease, and it’s most easily explained as a modified FSG.

First-time operators or owners entering an unproven market will likely want to first focus on modified gross or percentage rent leases. However, FSGs are certainly attractive.

Length of Lease

Landing on a lease amount that you can live with is only part of the battle. Far too many people overlook the length of their lease, focusing too hard on the amount.

So, let’s take a look at some crucial factors you need to consider before signing anything.

  • Base Term. Let’s say you’ve invested several million dollars into your project. It’s sort of hard to imagine paying that investment off in two years, isn’t it? So, a two-year lease probably isn’t ideal. Give yourself the time you most reasonably need to open your doors and make money. Again, don’t focus solely on the amount of the lease.
  • Option Periods. Taghdiri explains term options thusly: “Jump into the pool safely before knowing what’s in it.” The real-world example is easy enough to understand. Agree to a three-year lease but bake one or two (or more, if you want or can) five-year renewal options into the agreement. Doing so means that you can trigger the renewal prior to the term’s conclusion. In other words, the landlord won’t be able to (easily) kick you out if you want to keep leasing the space. Just be aware that your landlord will likely also want to bake new terms into the agreement along with the renewal options.
  • Early Termination Rights. When it comes to this element, Taghdiri explains that this may be limited to longer-term (ten years or more) leases. Essentially, it’s what it sounds like. You should be confident in your concept before you even get to the lease stage. However, it’s not a bad idea to have an early exit plan in mind. So, you may be able to sign up for a long-term lease but bake in an 18- or a 24-month termination clause. Just remember that if you don’t exercise this agreed-upon right within the timeframe, you’ll be responsible for the original term of the agreement.

The Million-Dollar Question

You likely have a burning question searing itself into your brain right now. It’s a common question: “How much rent should I pay?”

There are a few ways to approach a satisfactory answer. The bullshit answer is, “Whatever you can afford for the space you really want.”

That’s the first step toward blowing a budget, blowing out already razor-thin margins, and skyrocketing costs.

One way to approach the how-much question is due diligence and comparables. What are the comps in your selected area? What are people paying in the neighborhood? What’s best for your business, and is that identified in your pro forma?

That said, Taghdiri did present a general lease amount rule. Try to keep your rent at 11 percent of gross sales, or less. Ten percent is even better, obviously. Anything less than that and you’re a master negotiator.

Image: Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

People are Returning to Cities

People are Returning to Cities

by David Klemt


Aston Martin DB5 on freeway in Phoenix, Arizona

It seems the people fleeing big cities in a “mass exodus” are throwing their moving trucks and vans into reverse.

Millennials and Gen Z are apparently leaving the suburbs and rural areas.

Analysts are looking at significant increases in rent as proof of the shift.

Climbing Rent

Anyone following along with real estate is aware that the housing market is off-the-charts hot right now.

Bidding wars for houses and condos are driving prices up by tens of thousands of dollars in many cases.

Well, those bidding wars aren’t only affecting housing sales.

In some markets, rates for rental properties are climbing by more than 40 percent. Per reports, rent is up 7.5 percent across the nation.

Now, bidding wars are taking place for rental properties. As is the case with homes and condos, there’s less inventory than demand.

Obviously, that drives up prices.

Who and Where?

Millennials and Gen Z are driving the journey back to the cities.

Many in those generations moved out of cities to live with friends or family. During the pandemic, doing so was a sound in terms of physical, mental, and financial health.

According to data from, the following markets are seeing year-over-year increases in one- and two-bedroom apartment rent:

  • Tucson, AZ
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Henderson, NV
  • Las Vegas, NV

For the full report, click here.

Another market is, per several outlets, seeing an influx in younger, wealthy renters and buyers: Phoenix, AZ.

In fact, the wealthy have been investing in property throughout Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and Dallas.

Of course, the nation’s biggest cities are also drawing more people. For example, New York City is experiencing an influx of residents.

This is largely due to the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions and an increase—in some cities and states—in vaccination rates.

It’s important to meet guests where they are. Those looking to expand or open new venues should give serious consideration to booming secondary markets.

Image: iStrfry , Marcus on Unsplash