Don't Allow Limits on Subtenant, Assignee Signage

Q: I am negotiating a lease for space that I will probably have to sublet or assign in the future. How can I avoid being barred from doing this later by the landlord?

A: It’s crucial to dodge a narrow signage clause in your lease that would hamper your ability to sublet or assign if you need to move out of all or part of your space. There are two scenarios in which a restrictive signage clause could interfere with this: (1) you want to sublet a portion of your space and you and the subtenant both want to post signs, but your lease limits your space to one sign; and (2) you want to assign your lease to an assignee that's part of a national chain, but your lease's signage clause bars the chain's standard signs and logos.

You can avoid this in either scenario by deleting any language limiting you to use only one sign at the space and getting the right to use the maximum amount of exterior signage possible. (Remember that you'll still have to make sure the signage complies with relevant governmental codes and meets the owner's signage criteria for the entire building or center.) And, if the owner demands that you get its approval of all exterior signage, make sure the owner agrees not to unreasonably withhold its approval.

You should also be allowed to use your own professionally prepared standard interior signage. A subtenant or assignee will be more willing to take over the space when you can reassure it that, as the new “tenant,” it'll have all of these rights under the signage clause in your lease. Ask your attorney about using this language in your lease's signage clause:

Model Lease Language

Notwithstanding any language herein to the contrary, Tenant may utilize the maximum exterior signage allowed by any applicable code. Such exterior signage shall include any allowable temporary signage and shall comply with the signage criteria of Landlord. Additionally, Tenant may utilize its standard interior store signage, provided such signage is professionally prepared.