Architectural Lease Review #3: Real Estate Broker, Attorney and the Architect By: Michael Kahn, AIA, CEO | Kahn ArCHITECTURE

Hello. Welcome to the third article in a six-month series. Whether you are relocating office space or if you are a start up firm looking for your very first office space, the first order of business is finding a real estate broker to represent you. Just as a landlord will have a real estate agent on their side, so do most tenants who have their own to broker to represent their interests. Same way as in home sales, there is a buyer and seller real estate broker in the transaction. The broker is your key point of contact throughout the entire process including but not limited to providing assistance in evaluating office space options helping you understand the financials of the lease agreement and navigating through the world of design, construction and moving.

At some point in the process, you will want to have your attorney review the lease and negotiate the terms in conjunction with the real estate broker. Factors such as when possession occurs and the legal language required to protect your interests are just few elements that need to be addressed. Leases are usually prepared by the landlord's attorney and represent their side. When looking for office space you will want to have your attorney review and modify the lease to make it more balanced. Especially, as it pertains to your rights as a tenant. This would include defaulting on rent payments, how the building will charge you for real estate taxes, and language on what requirements you must comply with in order to commence construction in your leased space.

Now this is where the architect comes in. The corporate interior architect is critical at this stage before signing the lease. For example, the lease contains language specifically speaking about possession of the space at substantial completion and when that date will occur. Without the design schedule addressed (which can only be confirmed by a design professional interacting with the tenant) regarding the plan, the overall design elements and the lead times for equipment and possibly furniture there could be conditions which may cause rent to commence sooner than what's needed. It also includes the building department filing timeline, landlord review process and a reliable milestone date for construction. How will you know if the possession date is sufficiently forecasted for your build-out? How about electrical demand load (the actual electrical supply service requirement you will need for your equipment and staff) delved to your space. There is some norm to this number that a building should provide a minimum of six watts per square foot, but there may be other language associated with this section that needs to be clarified.

As discussed in our first article, Architectural Lease Review: #1: Square Footage; a tenant should work with an architect to create the space plan in advance of a lease signing. This plan will not only confirm that the space is sized correctly for a tenant’s use, but also the programming for a company’s current and future headcount growth, projected sufficiently for the life of the lease. The plan, as an attachment to the lease also serves as the guideline of the intended work so that the "Alteration" sections of the lease can be written to apply to the work, i.e., how many offices will be required, how much glass may be desired in the office fronts, how many people will occupy the space, where the pantry, IT room and access to freight areas will be located, etc. These are a few of the items that could affect the language of mechanical, plumbing and electrical services and systems being delivered or not to your space and costs associated to provide. In addition to the plan, the architect would also review the lease exhibits such as the building's "Rules and Regulations" and how they could impact your design, the type of union or non union contractors you can hire in the building and if only the building's contractors can perform the work. All of these items can cost a tenant additional money if not accounted for after lease signing.

As the third professional service provider, in addition to the real estate broker and the attorney, your office space lease review team is now formed and able to analyze and protect your investment - whether you sign a lease for 5, 7 or 10 years or more. It is expensive to pay rent for NYC office space so why not give yourself the expertise afforded by these professionals before you sign a lease.

Kahn Architecture has a significant history of providing lease review services for tenants and landlords throughout the Tri-State area. An early review of a tenant’s design and construction needs can help anticipate costs in advance and address alteration options to be included in the lease.

Michael Kahn is the co‐owner of Kahn Architecture, a women's owned corporate interior architecture firm located in Midtown Manhattan specializing in office build‐outs. Michael is NCARB‐certified, a member of the AIA and licensed in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington DC.

For more information please contact Michael at

Michael Kahn, AIA

Director of Operations, Vice President

Kahn Architecture

2 West 45th Street, Suite 502

New York, NY 10036


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