Office Leasing Basics - square footage 101

When negotiating an office lease it's important to be on the same page. As a tenant, it's important to understand exactly what is being rented.  Different landlords use different methods of calculating square feet. A tenant needs to review the lease closely and make sure he or she understands how the square footage was calculated as it impacts the amount of the base rent and the allocation of costs and expenses between the tenants.  

One term frequently seen in office leases is "usable square feet". "Usable" square feet is the footage used exclusively by the tenant. Another common term is "rentable square feet". "Rentable" square feet represents all the space allocated to the tenant, taking into account the common areas of the office building, such as elevators, bathrooms, hallways, and other areas that one or more tenants may share in a building. This calculation should be particularly reviewed as it is the amount used to determine the rent that is charged.

Because landlords' methods for calculating square footage were all over the board, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) developed a standard for measuring office space called ANSI/BOMA Z65.1-1996, which was updated in 2010 by ANSI/BOMA Z65.1-2010. 

The use of a standard, such as the BOMA standard, helps ensure the tenant and landlord are on the same page when negotiating the lease terms, and maybe avoid a dispute later.

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