Millions of businesses around the country are trying to settle into a new normal for their workplace routine. For office tenants, this means a huge shift towards working from home for the majority, if not all, of their employees to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

As you continue to navigate this new virtual reality as a business leader, there are thousands of questions running through your mind: Will we make it through this? Are my employees OK? What does this mean for productivity? How will this impact my team’s culture? How do I continue to motivate? What are our opportunities for business growth?

And one more big question: What do I do with my office lease during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

As more companies are asking their employees to work from home (or as they are required to do so in some major metropolitan areas), their office spaces are emptying out. With real estate being one of the top expenses for your company, what are your options?

While there are very limited legal options you can exercise during this time, there is an opportunity to be proactive and limit your financial exposure.

Now is the time to negotiate rent reductions and abatement with your landlord.

There’s enough on your plate right now. Let a trusted broker help guide you through this process:

  1. Assess your current situation. How you approach this conversation with your landlord will depend on your current status in light of the evolving COVID-19 situation. It’s important to look at how your company is responding and adapting now, as well as what your needs will be in the coming three, six or nine months. Be prepared to show the economic impact that this situation has had or is projected to have on your business, as well as any additional measures you’ve taken to mitigate your financial risk.
  2. Read your lease agreement. Unfortunately, there is most likely no protection for this type of scenario included in your lease agreement, even if there is force majeure language. If you have an attorney, have them review and provide insight into your legal options (which, per our current understanding, are extremely limited).
  3. Name your best-case scenario. While this is a new situation for everyone, decide what your best-case scenario would be for your company in terms of your office lease. Then, work with a trusted broker to help craft what those terms would be to present a clear, concise proposal to your landlord.
  4. Negotiate with your landlord. Landlords are particularly busy during this time making sure their buildings are safe for their tenants and trying to figure out the ripple effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on their properties. Some landlords may be willing to work with their tenants, while others may not. Using brokers who have a strong relationship with multiple landlords will help you find the best solution.

This is a first for all of us, and we want to do what we can to support you during this very fluid situation. Please let us know what we can do to help.

Andy Cullen

Amy Aldridge