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A parking clause is a parking clause, right? During the space tour there are normally two items mentioned by the listing agent or landlord - number of stalls and price per month. There are other details that should be considered so that parking does not become a headache during the lease (fun fact: parking is the number two complaint by tenants behind HVAC).
1) Ensure that the lease states a ratio per square foot. That way if you expand your space you will automatically be entitled to more spaces. Ensure that the ratio is in the same range as other buildings. It could be that the landlord over-committed to another tenant when he/she had a large vacancy and that left an unnaturally low number of remaining spots for future tenants.
Here is a good example:
During the Term of this Lease and any Extension Term(s), the Tenant shall be entitled, at no additional charge, to use four (4.0) parking spaces ("Parking Spaces") per one thousand (1000) square feet of the Rentable Area of the Leased Premises then leased by the Tenant ("Tenant's Parking Allotment") in the surface parking facilities serving the Building and located on the Common Areas, on a non-exclusive "first come, first served" basis. Accordingly, while the Tenant leases eight thousand, sixty-one (8,061) square feet of Rentable Area in the Building, the Tenant shall be entitled to use twenty-six (26) Parking Spaces.
2) Cap the cost. Just because the parking may be free in a suburban office building during your lease negotiation does not mean the landlord may not seek to charge for parking at a later date. Ensure your letter of intent, offer to lease and lease have "free of charge for the term of the lease and any renewals". If there is a charge, ensure it has "<price> for the term of the lease"... Also make sure to be specific on whether parking charge is inclusive or exclusive of taxes.
3) Put "up to" in front of the number of stalls provided. Let's say you rent 5,000 square feet and you get 4 spots per thousand square feet (20 spots) at $200 per month. What if you do not have that many drivers? You will want to ensure you are entitled to "up to" 20 spots and are not obligated to pay for 20 spots.
The Landlord agrees to provide up to twenty (20) parking spaces in the building parking garage at the then prevailing building rate (currently at $300.00 per month, inclusive of taxes, which shall not be changed for the Term of the Lease), changeable any time during the term of this Lease on thirty (30) days' written notice by the Tenant. For further clarity, the Tenant may decrease the allocation of twenty (20) parking spaces at any time during the Lease and will have the right to increase back up to twenty (20) parking spaces at any time. At all times the Tenant will only be charged for the parking spaces used.
4) Ask for reserved spots. Although it is an extra step for the landlord to install signage for reserved spots, it is common for a small percentage of your parking requirement to be allocated to reserved spots. It will come in handy when there is high parking demand - most parking lots are not policed by landlords - it is all first come, first served.
5) Access to charging stations. Many new buildings are now mandated to put in at least a couple of charging stations and existing buildings are following suit. You may not have any electric car employees now but things are changing. If the landlord does not currently have any electric charging stations then ask for the right to have them installed - now or at a future date.
6) Right of First Refusal on Parking. Although difficult to obtain and a rare question to ask, if you are a high user of parking, it does not hurt to ask for a first right on month to month parking spaces as and when they become available. They will become available when other tenants vacate the building.
7) No Deposits for FOBS or swipe cards. During the negotiation phase the parking clause is typically skinny and then a meatier version shows up in the lease. One item could be a $50 deposit for every passcard issued in the case of underground parking. This is something that is typically forgotten about when you move out of the building years later. Asking in the offer to lease that there will be no deposits is something that could be achieved before the cost arrives in the lease document.
8) Ability to convert parking to bike storage. Not a common request, but bikes are gaining in popularity much like green cars. It is not very expensive for a landlord to install a steel cage around a few parking stalls. As it would be for your exclusive use, ask for it to be your right to ask, the landlord will install, and then you have the obligation to take down when you vacate.