Ask These 34 Questions When Finding Office Space For Lease
Whether you are planning to move your business from small office space to a bigger one because of growing business activities, or you wish to move your business from your home, the task of finding an office space for lease in Singapore can be overwhelming. You must understand that picking the right office space for your business is important, and making the wrong decision will negatively impact on your business.
However, you can’t be too careful, but if you know the right questions to ask, you stand a lesser chance of making a mistake. Before signing the dotted lines, you need to consider the present and future needs of your business; the latter is extremely important, but it is often neglected. Also, a lot of factors come into play during the decision-making process.
Hence, ask yourself, the leasing agent and the landlord the following questions at different stages to enable you to make the right decision:
Before The Office Space Search
Since your decision will have a lot of effect on your business, the process of choosing an office space appears daunting. For instance, picking the wrong location could drive away your employees and customers.
Besides, your choice will have to revolve around your company’s future needs and not the present ones. So, before you start searching, ask yourself these questions.
1. What Options Do I Have On The Type Of Business Space?
This question is centered on your company’s eligibility to rent a particular office type. Usually, the rental price of a premium commercial office building will be costlier than a light industrial space. However, depending on the kind of business you run, you may not be allowed to rent the latter option.
As it concerns eligibility, you need to ask questions and conduct thorough research to determine if your company can lease a particular office space. Here, you can ask an experienced commercial real estate agent. Since he has a high level of expertise, he will give you an answer concerning the necessary guidelines for deciding on the type of property you are qualified to lease.
2. Is A Serviced Office Space An Option?
While starting your office search process, you need to choose between renting a serviced office or office space in bare condition. Of course, you will have to consider the nature of your business. This is an important question to ask while searching for an office space for lease because it helps you save costs and eliminates the hassle of fitting out an office.
Also, picking the right workspace is a key step to business growth; therefore, you mustn’t take only the rental budget into consideration. The workspace has to align with the culture and image of your organization.
Furthermore, you must understand that each category of workspaces comes with its unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. In today’s business world, it is quite common to see large MNCs leasing co-working spaces because of flexibility.
3. How Much Office Space Do I Need?
This question does not have a straightforward answer; however, you can be able to navigate through it by considering your company’s projected business growth. You certainly want to avoid the heartbreak of paying for an office space that is unsuitable for your business needs. Therefore, the square foot requirements have to be at the top of your checklist.
Assuming you are a startup with a rising growth expectation, you need to envisage your future workforce because it will help you make an informed decision. Although open-plan offices have become normal, some businesses may need a different degree of privacy, floor plan, and desk allocation.
For instance, a sales team will need an open workspace because it fosters teamwork and collaboration. In contrast, lawyers who constantly engage in confidential conversations with clients will need a more private and enclosed office space.
4. What Are The Rental Costs For My Preferred Locations And Buildings?
You may want to situate your head office in a business district like the Marina Bay because you want your business in the best buildings in a highly sought-after location. You might also want to be here because you stand a better chance of getting clients. But have you asked yourself what the office rental costs of those buildings will be? Is your budget big enough to match up?
Before you make a final decision, it is necessary to find out the asking rent to make sure that your company can afford it. A common way to find out is to carry out your research online, but you may get confused. There is always a variation on the rental rate of listed buildings, and some agents tend to post a significantly low asking rate in a bid to attract a tenant’s attention.
A better option is to engage the services of a trusted commercial property agent to give you accurate rental prices.
5. What Are My Chances Of Finding A Fully Furnished Office Space?
This question should be asked if you want to save cost and money during the office search process. This is because, if you find one, you will not need to renovate or fit out the office space again. Also, it is a more affordable option.
It is quite rare to find a fully furnished office space for lease in Singapore. Normally, you can only find an office space in bare condition. While leasing office space, you shouldn’t expect to find a furnished office easily. So, you have to be prepared to do some renovation to add some facilities that your business will need.
6. What Are My Priorities For Finding A New Office?
What factors do you consider important during your office space leasing process? Is it the cost, lease terms, or amenities? Ensure you consider all your future business needs; then find out the and how to get it. If you set your priorities straight, you stand a better chance of making a more informed decision.
Also, do not be surprised if your priorities change during the search process. Whether you have started searching or not, being aware of your priorities will enable you to identify them when you come across a suitable office space.
7. How Will My Employees’ Commutes Be Affected By The Move?
Before you venture into searching for an office space for lease, we recommend that you consult with your employees to find out which location suits them most. In truth, most employees would prefer to have their workplace close to their homes, restaurants, and other amenities.
Although everybody’s opinion wouldn’t be considered, it is a wise move to get your employees involved in the selection process. They will hold you in high esteem for being considerate about their quality of life and everyday commute to work.
8. What Will Be The Duration Of The Lease Process?
As the saying goes, “time is money”; therefore, you need to consider how much time the office space leasing process will take. You can find out by asking the estate agent or by considering how much time you wish to dedicate to the search. If you have no problem with taking your time, it is possible to come across the right opportunity and find an office space that meets almost all your specifications.
The rule of thumb states that you should give a six-month timeframe between the day you begin your search and when you can migrate to the finished office space. An experienced, dedicated commercial property agent can also help you fast track the process.
9. How Will Tenant’s Agent Get Compensated?
It is extremely important to have an experienced commercial real estate agent on your side while you are engaging in the office space search process. A tenant’s representative makes your search easier while providing some degree of security. But who pays the tenant agent for representing you? Adding extra cost to your search process will make you shy away from hiring a commercial property agent, but the opposite is the case.
There are other costs to handle as a tenant, but the agency fee is certainly not one of them. The landlord is responsible for the agent’s commission. So, we understand your fears for asking this question since you want to save costs, but there is nothing to worry about.
10. How Do I Find A Reliable Commercial Tenant’s Agent?
Since you have found out that you are not responsible for compensating the tenant’s agent, the next step is to find a reliable one who will represent you properly. Asking this question is necessary because you don’t want to work with someone who lacks experience in the office finding business.
Landlord’s leasing agents are quite different from tenant’s agents; you need to recognize the keyword “tenant.” The number you call on a listing advert is that of a landlord’s leasing agent, and he works for the landlord’s interest, so do not get it mixed up.
Then, how do you find a tenant agent who will have your best interests at heart? Most times, if you run a big company, the commercial property agents will come to you because they must have read or heard about your company in the news. However, the case is different for a startup or an average entrepreneur.
Here at OfficeFinder, we work with the best commercial property agents specialized in office space finding on behalf of tenants like you. Why not let us recommend the right commercial agent with the right expertise in office rental to assist you? Click here for Tenant’s agent recommendation.
11. Will I Need The Services Of A Commercial Interior Designer?
After leasing a new office space, the next step is to assemble the right team. However, before you hire an architect or an interior design firm specializing in office space fit-out, make out time to find out the different roles they play.
An architect’s job revolves around the spatial relationships of a building’s structure both within and outside the building. Their skills are centered on designing, engineering, and managing construction projects.
On the other hand, interior designers majorly deal with the inner parts of a building, but sometimes, they help in mapping out the spatial relationships and managing renovation projects like construction or removal of partitions and walls. Interior designers suit the needs of most tenants.
At OfficeFinder, we connect businesses with commercial interior designers with a specialty in office space fit-out and reinstatement. Leave us a message, and we will send you the contact of these commercial interior designers.
Office Lease Cost
The next process, after answering the questions above, is the office tour. So, what questions should you be asking during office space inspections?
Assuming you have drafted a budget for your new office space, the first question you ask should give you a clear insight into the monthly rent and total cost of the new office. Once you take care of the basics and the office space still tickles your fancy, the next questions you throw at the leasing agent should cover the office lease cost.
12. What Is Included In The Monthly Rent?
It is important to ask this question so that you know the exact things you are paying for, as well as the additives in your monthly rent. For instance, the lease costs for a traditional office would cover air-conditioning usage during regular office hours. However, the case happens to be different in some of the prime office buildings in Singapore.
13. What Is Not Covered In The Monthly Rent?
Is there any extra fee that you have to pay monthly, which is not covered in the rental cost? You need to ask this question while leasing office space because hidden charges tend to add up. Ensure your budget can take care of all the hidden costs before signing the lease agreement.
14. Do I Have To Share The Corridor Space On The Floor Area?
While searching for an office space for lease in Singapore, you must understand that the guidelines governing the leased office space area are limited. Therefore, tenants should be careful while confirming the net areas.
Though most floor areas offered during your office inspection are net useable or carpetable areas within the premises, there are office buildings that require tenants to share the corridor space with the neighboring tenants on the same floor. If this is the case, the carpeted area is typically 85% to 90% of the total floor area offered by the leasing agent.
15. Who Will Take Care of Repairs And Maintenance During The Lease Term?
It is important to ask so as to find out about any needed repairs for the office space before or after you have moved in. When you know what is covered and isn’t covered within the lease contract, you can comfortably answer this question. Usually, it is included in the lease agreement; however, you should never make any assumptions when it concerns fees and costs related to leasing office space.
16. What Are The Security Deposit And Other Fees Payable?
You should know the total cost of the security deposit and other additional fees because it helps you find out if your budget is big enough to take care of them. In Singapore, it is a common practice to pay a security deposit, stamp duty, and also admin fee and legal fee for preparing the lease document. This is done during the execution of the lease document, and it varies from building to building and landlord to landlord.
The security deposit is among the largest initial investments you will make while leasing office space. Landlords adopt varying policies when deciding the amount of security deposit that you will pay. It is common for landlords to ask for a deposit equivalent to 3 to 6 months of the gross rent; however, some landlords may request a deposit higher than six months’ gross rent. This is usually done if your financial strength is below their requirement.
17. What Are The Tenant’s Responsibilities For Insurance Coverage During The Lease Term?
While making your budget calculation, ensure you find out if there is a need to consider the cost of tenant’s insurance for the office space. Renter’s insurance is relatively cheap; nonetheless, you should discuss it with the landlord or leasing agent.
In most cases, the office lease agreement demands that the tenant takes up and retains public liability insurance for the entire lease term. However, the amount paid for insurance cover differs amongst buildings.
18. Will the rent increase over the term of the lease?
This is a necessary question because you want to avoid paying outrageous amounts in the middle of your lease term. In truth, you may get a good deal now, but once the monthly rent starts increasing steeply, the deal may seem less attractive.
Most landlords add “escalation clauses” to the lease agreement, and this permits them to increase the rent when expenses such as property tax and building maintenance rise.
Office Space and Amenities
Together with knowing the total cost of your preferred office space, you should also find out if you will be getting value for your money.
19. What Are The Available Services And Amenities?
These amenities and services offer you and your employees a seamless working experience; therefore, you want to ensure that they exist in your office building. The office building can offer 24/7 security and reception services, but this is largely dependent on the commercial building grades.
Also, the building may offer Wi-Fi in common areas. Shared spaces and amenities like function rooms, training rooms, sports facilities, sky gardens, and so forth may be available. The advantages of the services and amenities would most likely outweigh the cost of cheaper office space.
20. Are There Parking Spaces?
Does the building have a parking facility, and at what cost? Is there a parking space for clients and guests? In a bid to promote convenience and better customer service, you might want to ask this question. A client will be comfortable knowing that parking space is available in your office building.
Most grade A office buildings feature underground parking facilities for you, your employees, and your clients. But the case might be different in Grade B and C buildings. Parking is a crucial factor to consider while leasing office space in Singapore. So, find out if there is an adequate parking space, the cost of the parking rate, and ascertain if the factors work well with your budget.
21. Does This Office Send The Right Signal?
What is the first impression you would like to create? You should consider that before picking an office location. Your office space should feature more than a collection of cubicles. This is because your clients can use it to evaluate how much you might be making.
Many companies spend lavishly for a luxury office space and invite clients to come and have a look. This creates a good impression of the company. Therefore, you should invest in making your office space look attractive because customers use it to assess your company’s success and financial strength.
22. How Is The Layout Of The Office Space I Will Be Renting?
You must understand that two office spaces may have the same floor area on paper, but in reality, they will not look similar. The key factor here is the layout, which impacts on the usability of the office space.
Since you wouldn’t want to pay for an office with less maximizable space, it is essential to hire an office interior designer to help you in space planning and test fit to see if space can accommodate your needs.
23. Who Are The Other Tenants Next Door?
Who are your neighbors, and how do they conduct their businesses? Do they generate a lot of noise while you are in an important meeting with a top client? Will your neighbor’s customers repel yours?
Also, you wouldn’t want one of your major competitors to move into the same building with you. If you believe this is necessary for your business, it can be negotiated with the landlord before you sign on those dotted lines.
Important Office Lease Terms
A standard Tenancy Agreement points out the terms and conditions agreed upon by you and your landlord. Your rights and duties as a tenant are plainly stated in the lease agreement.
You can refer to the Tenancy Agreement in the event of any disagreements concerning issues related to monthly rent, privacy, maintenance, and repairs. Make sure you are aware of some of these lease terms before negotiating a deal.
24. What Is The Length Of The Lease?
Always ensure that you know the length of lease options of each building while searching for an office space for lease in Singapore. This is because some commercial real estate agents will put you in the longer lease term while a shorter lease may better suit your business plan.
25. Can You Negotiate Expansion Rights For Other Adjoining Space?
This may seem like a premature move since you’re still signing a multiyear lease deal. But thinking ahead is never a bad idea. If your company experiences rapid growth, you will certainly have more workforce and clients, which may not be suitable for your space. During the leasing negotiation, you and your representing agent can always make a specific request for an expansion option in the lease.
26. Will You Have The Option To Renew At The End Of The Lease?
This is a common option but could be unavailable sometimes. If you find a good business location, it will be a wise choice to stay there for as long as you can. Moving your business location frequently would be inconducive for you, your employees, and your clients.
In most cases, the renewal rent is set at the prevailing market rate and regulated by an arbitrator if there are any disputes. Find out whether a renewal option is available in the lease agreement and if it is not, consider negotiating one before you sign.
27. Does The Landlord Have Any Redevelopment Or Selling Plans For The Building?
You wouldn’t want to be asked to move or relocate your business mid-way into the lease term; hence, you must ask the landlord if he has any resell or renovation plans. The landlord may ask for a break clause either for him to sell or refurbish the building. This can negatively impact your business considering the financial commitments you have put into upgrading the office space as well as the disruption of business activities.
Moving to another business location takes a lot of effort. A typical example is the revamping of Hub Synergy Point on Anson Road in June 2017. This announcement saddened the tenants who were just a few months into their lease term.
28. Is Subleasing An Option?
What if you find out that the office space is no longer meeting your business needs, and you are still halfway into your lease term? What could be done? Would it be possible to sublease the office space?
You should ask these questions even before you sign the deal, especially if you are a startup whose business future is uncertain. The landlord may have specific requirements for such occurrences, so it will be a wise move to find out before signing on those dotted lines.
Office Fitting Out & Reinstatement
After finding out what the lease term entails, you should also inquire about the fitting out and reinstatement policy. This will give you information about the necessary steps to take before and during office renovation as well as the reinstatement process at the expiration of your lease term. Stated below are the questions to ask the landlord and leasing agent at this stage.
29. What is the Handover Condition?
Having this knowledge will enable you to calculate the fitting out costs after exempting those offered by the landlord. You will find most office spaces in the bare condition. For major office buildings, the standard handover condition by landlords includes raised or screed floor, inter-tenancy partitions, suspended ceilings with lightboxes, and central air-conditioning. The tenant will bear the cost if he wants auxiliary air conditioners or additional electrical wiring.
30. What Is The Length Of The Fitting Out Period?
This is the period between the Possession Date and the Lease Commencement Date for the tenant to renovate the new office space. It is important to ask how long the rent-free fitting out period will be provided during the official inspection. If the rent-free fit-out period is longer, then you may have enough time to fit-out your office space suitable for your business operations.
This should be discussed during the negotiation. As a tenant, you will not be charged any rent during the fit-out period. The fitting period may take between two weeks to three months, depending on the size of the office space and the current market conditions.
31. How Long Will It Take To Fit Out the Office Space?
For a 3000 square feet office space, it will take the tenant about a month to fit out. However, the complexity of the renovation might extend the fitting out period. It is important to know the approximate fit-out period because you don’t want your current lease to expire while you are still renovating the new one.
You must understand that a regular office renovation process takes about 3 to 4 months from finding the right design proposal to executing the fit-out. Start working on it early and hire the services of a design expert to avoid any shortcomings.
32. How Much Would It Cost To Fit-Out The Office Space?
About 70% of startups and small businesses do not have a correctly planned budget for their fit-out process. This puts their business in potential jeopardy. Knowing the fit-out cost will help you plan better and you avoid getting stuck midway.
The fit-out cost largely depends on the floor space, layout complexity, and technical requirements of your business. It comprises the service charges of the architects and designers. If you have a low budget, you can be charged between S$30 to S$60 for a square foot; a mid-range budget is about S$60 to S$90 per square foot, and a high-end budget is above S$100 per square foot.
33. Can Auxiliary Air-Conditioners Be Installed?
At some point, you and your team may need to work overtime in order to complete a report or a pressing project. Or your company want to host a training or meeting after regular hours. Since the office building management only leaves the central air-conditioning system to run for regular work hours, you might need to install an air-conditioner for after office hours operations and perhaps an in-house server room.
However, the structure of some buildings might not permit you to do that. Therefore, ask the leasing agent to find out if an auxiliary air-conditioner can be installed in the building before signing the lease agreement.
34. Am I Required To Reinstate The Office Space At The End Of The Lease?
In Singapore, every outgoing tenant is required to reinstate the office space back to its previous condition. You may rent a fitted-out office from an outgoing tenant, but does that mean you can avoid restoring the office space at your lease contract expiration?
The majority of landlords will point out the extent of the reinstatement in the lease agreement. Therefore, you need to ask the landlord to ensure that the reinstatement policy works well for you before signing the agreement.
The information above may seem too much. However, if you wish to have a smooth process while searching for an office space for lease, you need to fully understand everything in the guide. With this knowledge, you can save yourself some time and stress in the future.
About Office Finder Singapore
Office Finder Singapore is the trusted resource by businesses when finding commercial real estate in Singapore. We offer comprehensive and up-to-date office space listings together with the information needed and professional expertise that help businesses move confidently throughout their business journey in Singapore.
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