The dental office lease is one of the most important and expensive documents you will ever sign in your career. As such, it is critical to plan strategically and well ahead of your renewal negotiation. We recommend preparing at least 18-24 months prior to your lease expiry date so you will have time and leverage to negotiate the terms with your landlord.
With enough time, you can properly assess or re-assess your short and long-term practice goals, as well as prepare a negotiation strategy. Without sufficient time, the landlord could drastically raise your rent, along with other financially disastrous changes, leaving little time for you to negotiate. Once your lease expires, the landlord is not obligated to renew the lease, especially not on your terms, potentially leaving you without a location to practice in.
The lease contains all the legal terms and clauses agreed by both you and your landlord that you are to follow for the duration of your tenancy. It is important to review the lease agreement in its entirety to ensure you don’t miss anything that could pose significant financial risk to you and your family down the line. After all, landlords are business savvy professionals looking to maximize the value of their investment properties to make more money.
If you are considering retiring/transitioning in the next 10 years or less, you should begin protecting yourself now by reviewing your lease to plan for a safe and reliable future. Here are three important clauses to watch out for:
- Assignment Clause– The Assignment Clause is one of the most important and detrimental clauses for a retiring dentist. It has a direct impact on whether you will be able to sell the practice. Often, you will be required to request an assignment/transfer of lease from your landlord to an interested buyer. The landlord could either deny the request and postpone your retirement plans, terminate the lease altogether leaving you without a practice location, or take proceeds of your practice sale in exchange for assigning the lease.
- Death & Disability Protection – The future is unpredictable, and accidents/death is inevitable. Adding in a Death and Disability Clause in your lease will protect you and your family/estate in the event you are unable to work. Often, this clause will allow the lease to be terminated with little to no notice, saving you and your family from having to pay rent for the remainder of the lease.
- Surrender Clause – When your lease term has ended, the Surrender Clause dictates how you are to leave the space when you vacate the premises. Many dental leases require you to return the space back to its original “vanilla shell” before you started your practice, meaning you may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to demolish the space that you built. Moreover, the landlord could even take some of your leasehold improvements as their own, making profit out of the equipment you purchased.
These are just a few of the critical terms you should look for in your dental office lease to ensure a smooth transition out of dentistry and into retirement. You’ve worked hard as a dentist and practice owner all these years, you deserve to enjoy your retirement. Retire on your own terms by reviewing the lease thoroughly before your next renewal negotiation and focus on the clauses that could impact your retirement.
Contact Cirrus Consulting Group for a complimentary lease review by dialing 1.800.459.3413, where one of our leasing consultants will review your lease entirely and flag all the risks. If you are a late-career dentist, you should begin preparing for retirement now!
Since founding Cirrus Consulting Group in 1994, President and CEO Jeremy Behar has expanded the company from its sole focus on office lease negotiation services for healthcare professionals, to a broad line world-class healthcare consulting organization. Jeremy has extensive experience in commercial real estate consulting, and has taught thousands of dentists how to best leverage their office leases to maximize the value of their practices.