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Adequate Parking Can Make or Break a Business

By Howard C. Stross
June 25, 2014

Business owners should consider whether their location has adequate parking for their use. Earlier this month, the George Washington University School of Business ranked the 30 largest metropolitan areas metro in America to see if they are walkable. The Tampa Bay area was ranked almost last at 28th. Customers are much more likely to drive to your business so you need to ensure that you have adequate parking. You don’t want to receive this on-line review: Awesome service but lacks adequate parking!

Adequate parking is an essential provision to be addressed in a commercial lease agreement. A commercial lease may have a provision that appears to spell-out the details associated with parking. However, parking may also be addressed or affected in other places within the lease that appear to have nothing to do with parking. As an example, a provision that deals with what a landlord may do and not do concerning alterations that may affect the operation of the tenant’s business. A tenant will likely perceive any alteration to a parking area as disruptive. To eliminate disputes between landlord and tenant concerning alternations to the parking area, include in the lease that landlord has the right and the duty to maintain, repair and replace the parking area and that even though parking is being altered the number of spaces will not be eliminated or if parking may be eliminated there are limits to how many spaces may be affected.

In the use provision in the commercial lease, you may find language dealing with parking even if the word parking is not present in the provision. As an example, landlord wants to keep its anchor tenant happy. To do so, landlord includes in the use provision of the lease that martial arts studios, large restaurants, and any tenant use that requires many parking spaces or may create traffic issues to not be permitted within the shopping or business center.

From a landlord’s view, the lease should state landlord may change the parking lot if it does not eliminate parking spaces or that the landlord can reduce the number of parking spaces, landlord may label parking spaces as reserved, construct buildings where parking exists, require off-site parking, prohibit parking where vehicles might obstruct the visibility of the office or shopping center or obstruct the visibility of signage.

One other provision landlords like allows landlord to tow a parked vehicle from an area not intended for parking and prohibits a vehicle or boat to be parked in a restricted parking area. Florida law requires landlord to post a notice alerting a driver that her or his vehicle will be towed. The statute does not allow a landlord to immobilize the vehicle, i.e. use a boot, instead of towing it. Landlord should include in the towing language that employees of tenant and tenant’s invitees are subject to being towed and a requirement that tenant indemnify landlord if parking issues arise with an employee’s wrongfully towed vehicle or vehicle owned by tenant or tenant’s invitees.

This article is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Parking is only one of the important elements that must be considered and addressed in your commercial lease agreement. If you have questions or concerns about your commercial lease, please call us at 813-852-6500 for a free 30-minute consultation with a commercial real estate attorney.

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