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Commercial real estate zoning impacts leasing decisions

Finding a new property to lease in Massachusetts may be a business owner's top goal in 2018. However, choosing commercial real estate properties can be a challenge due to the many factors that are important to consider. One of these factors involves checking zoning ordinances to see what types of activities are permitted at certain properties.

Being aware of prior non-conforming uses at properties is paramount. If non-conformance happens as a result of a brand-new zoning law, the current tenant may continue the property's previous use. But once he or she leaves the premises, a new tenant cannot continue with the non-conformance.

In addition, researching whether the former property occupant had a variance may be a wise move. Variances are essentially special permits that enable tenants to use properties for purposes that do not necessarily align with zoning in the area. Once the former occupant leaves, a new occupant cannot maintain his or her variance.

Before signing on the dotted line, it may also be helpful to add a contingency clause to the lease. This clause would make a lease binding only after zoning has been approved. In this way, a business owner can avoid agreeing to lease a property and then later finding out that he or she cannot use the property for the purpose he or she bought it.

When it comes to leasing commercial real estate, the process can understandably be complicated and overwhelming. This is true whether it is a business owner's first time or 10th time. After all, every property is different, and thus, every leasing opportunity is different. A qualified attorney can provide the guidance needed to help a business owner to navigate the lease review and negotiation processes so that his or her business goals can be accomplished in Massachusetts.

Source:, "Commercial Zoning," accessed on Jan. 16, 2018

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