How to Find Short Term Flexible Commercial Leases?

Are you wondering if you’ll be able to find a short-term commercial lease? The answer depends on what you consider “short-term.” Usually, three years is the minimum lease term for a standard commercial leases. For some businesses, this may be way too long a duration. Startups and small businesses usually need to be flexible when it comes to lease terms so that they can establish themselves without risking too much. Plus, since many startups and small businesses only need minor space to function, they tend to look for small rentable space. This can be tricky since most commercial space is larger than 1,000 square feet.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for small businesses to find short-term commercial leases with very few strings attached. Landlords prefer long-term leases so that they can rely on rent payments. Often, they’re not willing to offer a short-term or month-to-month lease. While it’s possible to find leases that are shorter than there years, it could mean a lot of time and negotiating for the small business; willing landlords are few and far between.

The difficulties don’t stop there for small businesses who are looking for short-term commercial space. Let’s say Company X is able to find commercial space that’s 500 square feet and the building is perfect for their business. They’re also lucky enough to have a landlord who is willing to draft a one year lease. This sounds great at first, but Company X won’t be able to ask for extras from the landlord, like improvement allowances. Plus, Company X’s rental rate could actually be higher than that of other space in the building, even though it’s smaller than other commercial rentals. Lastly, it’s possible that rent could go up after the lease agreement ends in one year, which is bad news for Company X if they want to continue renting in the same building.

A quality broker may be able to help small businesses find micro office space and negotiate a flexible lease, but there are additional options for companies who need space to operate from. Pop-up shops, executive suites, co-working spaces, and subleases are all possibilities and these options are ideal for businesses that need minor space and major flexibility.

Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops are incredibly trendy today and are great for businesses who need short term retail space. Temporary retail shops are setup for a limited amount of time, like one day to one week. Some shops even stay up for a month or so, especially if business is booming. You’ve probably noticed seasonal shops that do this around Halloween or Christmas. Other businesses that benefit from pop-ups shops include designers who are just starting out, art exhibits that are on the road and small brands that are looking to test the market. Sometimes, online stores want to have a temporary brick-and-mortar shop. Even major retailers will open a pop-up shop when there’s a big event happening or if they want to launch a new product.

Pop-ups are great for small businesses because they have flexible terms and short-term lease agreements (ranging from one day to one year). Sometimes month-to-month leases are available, too. Rental rate tends to be lower than a regular commercial lease, sometimes up to 50% less. Plus, landlords like pop-up shops because they’re able to collect some rent when the space might otherwise be empty. Lastly, pop-ups tend to attract a lot of customers at once, which is great for business.

Executive Suites

While retailers use pop-ups for easy-to-use, temporary shop space, office workers use executive suites. This type of work space is equipped with all the necessities and the latest technology; many times the space is customizable, too. The best part is that executive suites come with highly flexible terms. Plus, executive suites often come with receptionists, IT personnel, phone operators and even office managers. You’ll share conference rooms and common areas with the other workers who are renting space.

Businesses can have as little or as much space as they need in an executive suite. The terms can range from one week to more than one year, making it flexible enough to suit any customer. You’ll pay one rental fee and you won’t have to worry about additional charges for maintenance or insurance. You’ll also be able to occupy the space immediately without doing any type of setup.

Keep in mind that there are a few drawbacks to renting an executive suite. Rental rates can be more pricey than if you rented regular office space, because they offer so many included services and they take on both insurance and maintenance. Also, some workers have noted that conflicts sometimes arise with other tenants, which can turn the work space into an unhealthy atmosphere.

There are variations on full-service executive suites that may better fit your budget. Some executive suites offer just limited services or even no services at all. You may also be able to rent virtual office space, which sets you up with a business address, a phone operator and the occasional use of a conference room or office. This is perfect for people who work from home but need the front of a professional business and who sometimes want a change of scenery. Co-working space is another option, perfect for people in creative careers due to its boldly decorated office space and collaborative outlook on space sharing.

Co-Working spaces

Coworking is the new trend for those seeking short term flexible office space.  Basically it’s a situation where a company like Wework leases office space in a building and then subleases it out to freelancers, startups, and other companies that need short term space.  They typically come equipped with everything you need whether you need your own office, conference room, or simply a shared desk.  Coworking really is a plug n play deal.  You walk in, sign up and pay the fee, then are able to sit down in any available chair and start working.  Wifi, coffee, printers, and copiers are at your disposal.


Subleasing is another flexible option for small businesses. When the person who’s leasing a space is vacating it before the lease expires, you can sublease the space from them. Sometimes, this setup means you’ll be sharing office space.

Subleasing is cost-effective, usually 10% to 50% less than renting normal commercial space. The rent is a flat fee and you don’t have to worry about any added expenses. There are plenty of small space options to suit a startup or small business. Also, additions and upgrades may be available to you. Often, you can use the furniture that’s already in the space or purchase it for a discounted price. You’ll have access to the reception desk, break room, conference areas and storage. You can also share equipment, including fax machines, copy machines and printers. When the original lease is up, the sub-lessee usually has the first choice of continuing to occupy the space. If other companies are also subleasing space int he same building, you’ll benefit from networking and companionship.

Of course, no business setup is without its problems. Subleases come with pros and cons. For example, if the sub-lessor defaults on the lease, you could be responsible for damages or other costs. Plus, you’re subject to both your sublease and also to the terms of the original lease, and Subleases are typically an “as is” deal…..meaning you have to take the space as it is with no changes. Before you sign anything, you should make sure that you understand both leases; it’s recommended that you get the help of an attorney or broker. There’s also an extra tier of communication that you have to go through. If there’s a problem, you need to discuss it with the sub-lessor, not maintenance or management, which means it can take a long time to fix any issues.

The good news is that there are several flexible commercial rental options for small businesses, startups, and others that need short term leases.  You just need to thoroughly evaluate each one and pick the one that best matches your current and future needs.

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