The words that spring to mind when leasing office space in Toronto are caveat emptor: Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’. There are endless hurdles to jump and minefields to sidestep in the negotiation process. However, negotiating a reasonable lease is possible if you know what to avoid. Of the many pitfalls to be aware of, here are the top three black holes to avoid being sucked into whilst looking for office space for your business.

Pitfall #1. Failing To Negotiate Assignments Or Subleases

Renting office space is fraught with difficulty for any business as they need the flexibility to be able to respond to future commercial conditions. Besides the possibility of having to downsize and relocate to smaller premises, expansion is just as plausible and businesses may need additional office space. Failing to negation assignments or subleases can be a major pitfall for businesses renting commercial office space. They may be trapped leasing space that is either too large or too small for their requirements. To avoid this pitfall, businesses must ensure that their agreement contains no clauses that prohibit assignments or subleases. You may need to either transfer the office space and the terms of the lease to another company or draw up a sublease for a period. While subleasing will see you remain liable for damage to the property and unpaid rent by whomever you lease the space to, it can help you preserve your cash flow if your situation changes.

Pitfall #2. Failing To Include Costs In Addition To Rent

One way in which commercial leasing is similar to residential leases is that the lease can include additional costs besides the rent. This may include insurance, taxes, maintenance costs and other expenses besides renting. Many business owners fail to include these costs when deciding which space represents the best value for money. This can lead to major disagreements and even litigation down the road when the landlord demands payment as per the terms of the lease. For example, most tenants assume that the landlord will maintain and repair air conditioning systems, heating and plumbing systems. In fact, many leases state that these costs should be borne by the tenant. A qualified realtor will explain this carefully to clients to ensure complete understanding. These costs should be factored into the cost of the lease to avoid nasty surprises later on.

Pitfall #3. Overlooking Usage Restrictions

A not uncommon mistake made by many business owners when renting out office space is to overlook clauses in the lease that restrict how the space may be used. For instance, a company may wish to put signs of the exterior of the office space and find that the lease specifically prohibits signage. Always check a lease for any clauses that restrict the way you can use the space.


There are many pitfalls to avoid making when looking for office space for lease in Toronto. The three pitfalls described in this article are the main ones to avoid. These problems are the ones that can knock your business off course and have serious financial repercussions for unsuspecting businesses.