Can We Install Signage? Where, What Kind, and How Big?

Published on Friday, 18 October 2013 10:20:02    Written by Marc
One of the questions I normally ask when negotiating an office lease or any type of commercial lease actually is the signage possibilities. Not all companies have a need for signage, but when they do, it is important to address this topic early on in the lease negotiation process. It is no secret that when a landlord is leasing out a site he tries to maximize the return on the signage as well as the leased space.

IMG_0069After all, it can be a great source of indirect revenues especially when strategically located and offer a form of free publicity for the tenant. It all boils down to how much its worth or should I say how much a tenant is willing to pay for it from the Landlords perspective. Surprisingly, what would seem to be a simple subject could have quite a few variances. For example, whenever I was looking for new office space, if we needed to have significant signage, I would try to find newly converted industrial or manufacturing sites that were located in high traffic areas.

These types of buildings were quite abundant and affordable in my area at that time because the clothing manufacturers were either struggling or closing their doors across North America with production moving east bound. Therefore, there was a lot of empty space and many buildings for sale. These buildings were perfect to retrofit into office towers (in addition to being cheaper than Class A buildings).

When leasing a space in such a building, the landlord would often be much more flexible in granting signage and adapting to your needs rather than other more established sites that were already fully leased. Obviously, that idea can be applied to any site that has a high vacancy rate. However, most of the time the buildings with high vacancy rates had poor visibility from a Signage point of view. Of course, it is sometimes possible to buy signage for a fee, but the intent here is to talk about getting signage included in the lease and basically free. Signage can be on the side of the building, in the parking area, in the entrance, in the lobby etc. …

Most established buildings already have their rules and regulation in place regarding the signage and what is allowed (per tenant, per size of tenant….etc.). However, sometimes the landlord has not yet defined these policies and you stand a better chance to ‘influence’ them in getting what you want. As the saying goes: If you do not ask, you will never get it. So whenever I negotiated a lease, the signage was always discussed right from the beginning on my first visits. I would ask what kind of signs was likely to be approved with regards to the building, the entrance, the parking lot, the lobby, etc. I even asked what we could install on the roof, both for our own use and for other commercial uses (such as subleasing the space).

Most times the landlord either did not accept anything to be installed on the roof, or allowed limited items strictly for our needs. At least we got a clear picture right from the start. If you make your signage needs conditional to the signing of a lease, you will notice much more flexibility on behalf of the rather than AFTER you signed a lease proposal or even worse, the lease itself. Experienced Landlords know the value of signage and will not give it up easily as there might be a tenant hungry for signage just around the corner.