Austin Retail Space – Underestimating Retail Lease Mistakes

Leasing Austin Retail Space? Make sure you do your due diligence before signing the lease.

Recently I was sitting in a city planning and zoning committee meeting and a small business who had recently leased Austin Retail Space was asking for a variance to the building signage requirements. Both the City Zoning Ordinance and the property owner had established the sign criteria to be no more than 30 sq. ft., however the business owner was asking for a variance of 36 sq. ft. for his sign which he had made prior to signing the lease at a cost of $4,000. After 30 minutes of discussion the city reluctantly did not approve the variance request. Now the business owner will have to have another sign made and spend another $4,000.

While this might seem unreasonable the City felt it necessary to follow their codes. Why? Well, for one the sign standards have been selected to harmonize with and complement the building materials and other commercial properties in proximity and will assist in creating the proper atmosphere for the center. Additionally if they approved his variance then what expectations are they setting for other existing or future tenants? If they do it for one person than the others would expect the same treatment.

How could this have been avoided? For one the Tenant or the Tenant Representative (if applicable) should have carefully read the lease agreement. The lease agreement should always have language that defines the signage requirements for the Austin commercial property. If not then the Tenant should go to the City and find out the material specifications, construction details, and specific signage requirements. Regardless of whether or not the Landlord has defined the signage requirements it’s always a good idea for the Tenant to check with their respective city zoning ordinance and codes also.

A few tips to consider when designing signage for your Austin retail business:

  1. All signs are subject to the City Zoning Ordinances
  2. Each Tenant is responsible for its sign conforming to the applicable ordinances and codes. Each Tenant shall be responsible for obtaining all required permits prior to the commencement of installation
  3. If you have any questions regarding material specifications or construction details, or the City of Round Rock sign allowances,
  4. Any deviations from these sign criteria are subject to prior written approval by the Landlord. Landlord has the right to waive any provisions listed herein. Waiver in a single instance shall not constitute a waiver to any other tenant.
  5. Any deviations from the Landlord’s sign criteria are subject to prior written approval by the Landlord. Landlord has the right to waive any provisions listed herein. Waiver in a single instance shall not necessarily constitute a waiver to any other tenant. Waivers are subject to the applicable City codes and ordinances.

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