Meet the Landlords: Tom, Dick, Harry, and Pat
They are all commercial real estate landlords, and if you don’t learn anything about them before you lease space, you might make a leasing mistake—a mistake that will cost you lots of extra money and stress!
My clients often ask me if they need a commercial agent. Let me share a few things about the landlords I’ve met during my career.
Just like in the TV series Dragnet, all of the following stories are true, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and not so innocent). Landlords come in every size, shape, and color; some are good, and some are very bad. Based upon the lineup below, which one would you like to lease from?
Let’s start with Tom. Tom not only owns commercial real estate; he owns a brokerage firm as well. Tom’s buildings are well maintained. If you call the property manager, whatever you need fixed will get fixed. Tom works quickly to get your lease proposals upon request. He will accommodate almost any showing. Once Tom puts together a lease proposal there isn’t much room for negotiation. Since we know that in advance, we can let your clients know what is going on. There are no surprises for the tenant when they move in.
Next up is Dick. Of course, when you come to meet him before moving in, he is all smiles. Prospects think he is a dream landlord because he always tells you what you want to hear. Little, if anything, is put in writing before the lease is drawn up. He hopes you are too naïve to hire an attorney to review the lease. Most prospects find him to be such a lovely person they have a hard time imagining that anything could go wrong. However, once you are in the space, Dick the Demon shows himself. He isn’t interested in people calling to tell him the foyer is slippery. He gets in arguments with anyone who calls about something that needs to be repaired. After a while, he finds someone on your staff who follows his rules, and that is the only person who is allowed to approach him with issues. Eventually, your firm gets tired of the hassles and decides to find a landlord who will listen to them, but unless you take Dick to court, you won’t get your security deposit back. Even though he loses most of his tenants at some point because of his own behavior, Dick continues to think your team is unreasonable.
Meet Harry. Harry’s buildings are so clean you can just about eat off the floor. If an agent is bringing in a larger tenant, Harry will personally attend the showing with the listing agent so that the prospect feels at ease. Any request, whether verbal or written, will be answered. His listing agent does a great job finding out what the client wants and figuring out how the deal can be made. This landlord follows through on everything. His staff has been with him for many years. Basically, he runs a clean and efficient business and is easy to work with.
Next up is Pat. Pat took over managing the family’s commercial building when her husband was put in jail. Let’s just leave it there without any further explanation. On my first call to Pat, I thought perhaps she lived in California because she was quoting $1.00/s.f. and Californians calculate the rent by taking the annual cost/s.f. and dividing it by 12 months. Therefore, the rent was $12.00/s.f. for an office building, plus lots of extra charges, which brought the cost up significantly if you knew the right questions to ask.
One of my agents had a client who was interested in Pat’s buildings. When she called her to discuss setting up an appointment to show the space, the agent was told she “had her skirt on upside down.” I believe there were some additional words used, but I can’t put them in print. You get the picture.
If you are wondering why I have introduced you to this cast of characters, it is so you can see just one facet of the decisions I make when helping my clients. If I have a client with a very limited budget, we may have to look harder to find a landlord willing to lease the space out at a great deal. If you request to see one of Dick’s or Pat’s buildings, I will warn you in advance what to expect. I can probably even give you prior tenants’ phone numbers to call and confirm the nightmares experienced at these buildings. If you are willing to take on a nightmare, at least you will be forewarned.