How to Avoid Costly Mistakes on Your Retail Space Signage

When leasing retail space it’s important that you read the building’s signage requirements before signing the lease or you may end up having to pay more than you should for your retail space building sign.

Recently I was sitting in a city planning and zoning committee meeting and a small business who had 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 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 the others might expect the same treatment.

How could this have been avoided? For one the Tenant or the Tenant’s broker (if applicable) should have carefully read the lease agreement. Lease agreements typically have language that defines the signage requirements. 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 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.  Any questions regarding material specifications or construction details can be directed towards the city and/or Landlord

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. Waivers are subject to the applicable City codes and ordinances.

As you can see not adhering to the retail buildings sign requirements can end up costing you more money than expected. It may only appear to be a small mistake however it may end up costing you thousands. Before signing your retail lease make sure you read all the rules and regulations and ensure that you are following them.

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