How Long Does It Take To Sign A Commercial Lease?

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In some ways, finding an ideal new commercial space for rent in Ottawa can be similar to finding a new place to live. While you may be motivated and ready to move your business to another location at a moment’s notice, it’s important to understand that signing a new commercial lease agreement doesn’t always happen in a flash.

In fact, the commercial lease process can extend from a matter of months to a year or more, depending on the length of time it takes to accomplish the many fundamental steps involved in the process.

To successfully move your business and take on a new commercial lease, it takes preparation, substantial planning, as well as the right partners.


Start the Search: Determine Your Office Needs

Duration: Weeks

It is important to decide who in your organization will be on the “Team” to carry your company through this process, evaluate options and make recommendations to senior management.  You will also have to decide on engaging a real estate professional or if your Team will conduct market research and contact landlords directly. This could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and will set your Team and or realtor on the right path, helping them find the right commercial properties for you to explore during your search.

Throughout this stage it is important to go over your preferences for the new space with your Team/Realtor. Doing so will not only help them narrow down their search for you, it will also assist you in determining the important details and specifications for your business’s new home.

Items to discuss might involve options for your space that cover a number of areas, such as:

  • Define your preferred geographical area
  • Type of building
  • The total square footage required
  • Access to nearby public transportation
  • Parking availability for visitors and employees, whether indoor, outdoor, or both
  • Proximity to major highways, airports or amenities
  • Ability to use existing pylon signage
  • The need for large windows and natural light
  • A requirement for newly renovated common areas
  • Enclosed office spaces or boardroom/meeting rooms
  • Move-in ready, fully furnished offices or raw space for your own plans 
  • The need for kitchenettes, communal showers, or other unique configurations

Make sure you have a thorough discussion with your Team/Realtor when discussing your needs, from architectural requirements, listing special equipment that must be accomodated (if any) to mapping out location and transportation preferences. This stage will also provide the added benefit of helping you to better define your budgetary limits.


Visiting and Selection

Once your Team/Realtor has identified a number of properties that meet some or all of your requirements, the next step involves exploring the spaces in person. At this point, you’ll really be able to drill down and get a better sense of each property, weigh the pros and cons of each space including a cost analysis, and finally make a decision on where you will be moving next.


Lease Negotiations

Duration: Weeks to Months 

Commercial leases don’t have to be complicated affairs, however, after meeting the potential landlord you will need to come to an agreement on the specific language used in the lease, and these negotiations will typically extend for several back and forth rounds of negotiation.  Most Landlords have standard leases that they use and they have been well developed to define terms and conditions of a negotiated agreement and protect both the Landlord and Tenant in the business relationship that they are entering into.  You may consider obtaining legal services to review the Lease document.

Once a few offers and counter-offers have been discussed, an agreement  is usually reached. At this point, the landlord may issue a draft lease for your own lawyers to examine and make minor adjustments to. Both sides will reach an agreement on a Lease that is acceptable to all parties, and settle all matters related to items such as the security deposit, the lease term, tenant responsibilities, rent levels, etc.

The amount of time it takes to hammer out the details will depend on the complexity of the lease being discussed. When looking for commercial property for rent in Ottawa, it’s always a benefit to work with a landlord with experience and integrity, so make sure you do your research to find the right partner.


Office Customization

Duration: Weeks to months

Depending on the lease terms, your new commercial location, and the needs of the property, your landlord will need anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to prepare the space for you in a way that meets your specifications. The lease will determine who pays for each item, which can include any number of adjustments, such as:

  1. New carpet installation (or deep-cleaning the old carpets)
  2. Updated electrical or plumbing work
  3. Interior or exterior paint upgrades
  4. Interior remodeling and reconfiguration
  5. and more 

The best outcome on matters of customization will be to partner up with a commercial landlord that is experienced handling such matters efficiently and professionally.

Try to choose a landlord that has a history of successful office customization for each tenant in their various properties, a landlord that is interested in becoming a part of your company’s future success, and wants to see you succeed – not just collect your rent payments.


Timing is Everything

When leaving your old space for the new, timing is very important. The last thing you want to do is stay up at night wondering what happens if you break a commercial lease with your old landlord.  This ideally would align with your existing lease expiry date and on occasion, an overhold may be necessary or an early termination negotiated with your existing landlord.

And while no one wants to pay a financial penalty for leaving an old lease early, at the same time, no one wants to end up paying double rent either! Ultimately, your best bet to avoid those kinds of problems is to make sure you find a trustworthy partner in your new commercial landlord, one that inspires confidence that your new location will be ready on time.

Getting the best commercial lease for your business will always be linked with choosing a landlord that goes above and beyond for their clients.


Merkburn Holdings: A Wealth of Experience

For over 50 years, Merkburn Holdings has been investing and managing commercial real estate, and they pride themselves on being able to facilitate the expansion or customization of the spaces they lease for their clients.

They do everything from A to Z, from helping prospective clients choose from one of their impeccably-maintained properties to assisting clients in any necessary redesign and construction. What Merkburn offers most of all is a commitment to helping their tenants achieve their business objectives over the long term.

By acting as partners and not just landlords, Merkburn is a great choice for anyone interested in signing a new commercial lease in Ottawa. Contact them today and explore how they can help grow your business.



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