away under the Surrender of Premises clause, is a perfect example and could be a potential
tripwire hiding in plain sight. It’s a legal obligation, at the landlord’s request, for a tenant to
restore the premises back to the condition it was in before you moved in or remove
alterations and improvements as the landlord sees fit. This could be a very expensive
parting gift to your landlord should they exercise this right.
Normally, a tenant can negotiate the meat out of this provision or have it deleted entirely. In
the past, landlords typically didn’t invoke this right because the subsequent tenant would
benefit from the prior tenant’s improvements.
But increasingly, landlords are pushing harder for restoration in lease negotiations and more
frequently exercising this clause as leases expire. Why? Because there has been a
paradigm shift in how offices are being built out and tenants are increasingly opting for
“open plan” layouts rather than private office-intensive build-outs. Therefore, if the exiting
tenant has landlord-centric restoration language in their lease and the new tenant wants an
open office in a private office space, you can be sure the landlord is going to try and stick
that tenant with the cost of demolition. And, if the landlord tears down 20 perimeter private
offices, the landlord is going to try its best to reserve their right to obligate that tenant to
restore the offices at the end of their term if the new tenant wants them back.
So how can a tenant protect themselves from this potentially costly exposure? First, fight
vigorously in the initial lease negotiations to completely strike the restoration provisions. If
the landlord won’t budge, agree to restoration but only with the condition that the landlord
must determine whether or not they’ll invoke their restoration right BEFORE you construct
the improvements. That way, you’ll know whether or not you’ll be required to potentially
spend extra money and time at the end of the term to restore your premises back to their
original condition. You’ll also be in a better position to decide if this is still the right space for
you and if the potential added expense is worth it.
If you’re not sure what the restoration requirements are in your lease, now’s a great time to
call howardcommercial and have us conduct a thorough lease review for you. We’ll be able
to provide you with our professional opinion of its implications and may be able to offer
solutions to mitigate the exposure.
Give us a call at 314.821.0085 or send us an introductory email at