Stay in Control of Nearby Billboard Content

When renting space in a building or shopping center, it’s important to give thought to the billboards or signage on the roof or exterior or in the common areas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking only about whether the size of the billboards will distract customers or clients. The content of billboards near your space can be more distracting—and harmful to your business—than the size if it’s controversial, offensive, or competes with your sales.

To place advertisement restrictions on the billboards and signage at the building or center, add language to your lease that controls competitors’ advertisements. You may have to compromise if the owner argues that it should be permitted to let your competitor advertise on signage in common areas if the competitor is already a tenant of the building or center. But, if you give in on this point, say that only a competitor who’s actually open for business at the building or center may advertise.

In addition, asking the owner to bar all nonretail advertisements can stop offensive messages from being displayed. But not everyone agrees on what’s “offensive.” That’s why you should say in the lease that only advertisements for retail businesses are permitted. It will at least stop ads for things like controversial political campaigns. Say that if the owner wants to permit any nonretail business advertisements later on, it must first get your written approval to do so.

The advertisement restrictions should be added to your lease where it discusses signage. For Model Lease Language you can use in your signage provisions, see “Set Restrictions on Content of Billboards Near Your Space,” in the March 2006 issue of the Insider.