Bakers Journal

Parking Pitfalls

August 25, 2016
By Jeff Grandfield and Dale Willerton – The Lease Coach

Landlords often use parking as an incentive. Ensure you understand all of the variables before committing.

Do you have enough parking for your customers, you and your staff? It’s a common problem we see with both new and established commercial tenants, and here are a number of factors to consider.

First and foremost, what is the availability of parking spaces and where are these spaces—in front of, behind or at the side of the building?

Parking located behind or beside your bakery may not be conspicuously visible to visitors.

Are the spaces first-come, first-served, or assigned for your use? These “designated” spots are desirable and discourage others from taking your space(s).


If your business is located near a major anchor store, consider that the best parking spots may be taken by their customers. Parking located close to your door will be advantageous for seniors.

For many commercial tenants, parking is free. But for some, monthly parking charges for staff can range from $85 to several hundreds of dollars per month.

Even if you are prepared to pay for parking, don’t assume it will be available. Consider any parking costs for visiting customers as well.

In our experience of working for commercial tenants, we recall visiting a couple of tenants who had hired us to do a new lease in a property they had found and liked. When we arrived at the property, it was around 10:00 a.m. and the parking lot was already packed.

We pointed this out and questioned just how busy would this same lot be after the vacant units were occupied with more tenants. With hearing this advice, these two tenants wisely decided it would not be in their best interests to pursue this leasing opportunity.

In another case, we also remember a couple of tenants who had been doing business for almost 18 years in the same property and hired us to negotiate their lease renewal. These tenants were very frustrated that their landlord had converted the property’s free parking lot into paid parking—a great inconvenience to visiting customers. Our message here is to never assume that your parking situation will always remain the same.

As some final words of advice, always assume the only parking rights you have are the rights you get in writing in your lease agreement. Also, remember it is best if your customers can park in the best stalls while you and your staff park elsewhere.

Determine whether the landlord has a designated area for staff to park and whether there’s a parking policy that the property manager polices. Smart landlords require both tenants and staff to provide their vehicle license plate numbers to the property manager for this very purpose.

If the landlord or real estate agent tells you that all parking is first come, first serve, you may want to include a clause in the lease agreement stating that if (in the future) the landlord gives special parking rights or privileges to other tenants that they will have to give those same privileges to you.

Parking is often used as an incentive by landlords trying to attract new tenants, and landlords have been known to unfairly divvy up parking to suit themselves or attract other tenants.

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield—The Lease Coach—are commercial lease consultants working exclusively for tenants. Dale and Jeff co-authored “Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies”. Need help with a new lease or renewal? Call 1-800-738-9202 or visit For a complimentary CD, Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Commercial Tenants, e-mail JeffGrandfield@The<br< a=””>>

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