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What happens if you break a commercial lease

Commercial Lease

Breaking a commercial lease can be a daunting prospect for any business owner. The fear of legal repercussions, financial penalties, and potential damage to a business’s reputation can be overwhelming. However, understanding the implications and potential costs associated with breaking a commercial lease can empower you to make informed decisions. In this blog post, we delve into the legal and financial aspects of breaking a commercial lease and explore strategies for negotiating your way out without losing money.

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Understanding the Legal Implications of Breaking a Commercial Lease

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s crucial to understand the legal implications of breaking a commercial lease.


    1. Breach of Contract: A commercial lease is a legally binding agreement between the tenant (you) and the landlord. Breaking it prematurely can be considered a breach of contract, which can lead to legal action from the landlord. They may sue for the remaining rent due under the lease, or for any other damages they’ve incurred due to your early departure.

    1. Damage to Credit and Reputation: If a lawsuit ensues and the court rules in favor of the landlord, it could negatively impact your credit score. This could make it more difficult for you to secure loans or leases in the future. Additionally, breaking a lease can harm your business reputation, which might affect your relationships with future landlords, suppliers, and even customers.

    1. Loss of Security Deposit: Most commercial leases require a security deposit to cover any potential damages to the property. If you break the lease, you might forfeit this deposit, even if you leave the property in good condition.

    1. Lease Clauses: It’s important to thoroughly review your lease agreement. Some leases contain an early termination clause, which outlines the conditions and penalties for breaking the lease early. This could include a termination fee, which is usually a percentage of the remaining rent due.

Remember, the legal implications can vary based on your specific lease agreement and local laws. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with a legal professional before making any decisions.

The Hidden Costs of Breaking Your Commercial Lease Agreement

Breaking a commercial lease agreement can also lead to hidden costs that may not be immediately apparent.


    • Lost Productivity: The process of finding a new location, moving, and setting up your operations again can be time-consuming. This could lead to a loss of productivity, which can negatively impact your bottom line.

    • Moving and Setup Costs: Moving to a new location involves costs such as hiring movers, installing new fixtures, and possibly renovating the new space to fit your needs. These costs can add up quickly and should be factored into your decision.

    • Marketing and Rebranding Costs: If you’ve invested in marketing your business at its current location, you may need to spend additional funds on rebranding and marketing to inform your customers about your new location.

    • Potential Loss of Customers: Depending on your business type and location, a move could result in the loss of customers, especially if your new location is less convenient or accessible.

    • Cost of Finding a New Lease: Depending on market conditions, you might end up paying more for a lease in a new location. Plus, there are also costs associated with the time and resources spent searching for a new place.

It’s essential to consider these hidden costs when contemplating breaking a commercial lease. They can significantly impact your business’s financial health and should be factored into your decision-making process.

How to Negotiate Your Way Out of a Commercial Lease Without Losing Money

Navigating your way out of a commercial lease without incurring significant financial loss can be a complex process. However, with the right strategies and a bit of negotiation, it’s possible to minimize the impact on your business.


    • Open Communication with Your Landlord: The first step in any negotiation is open and honest communication. Reach out to your landlord and explain your situation. They may be willing to work with you, especially if your reasons for breaking the lease are beyond your control, like a significant business downturn or personal issues. Remember, landlords are business people too, and they may prefer a negotiated solution over a costly and time-consuming legal battle.

    • Offer a Replacement Tenant: If you can find a new tenant to take over your lease, your landlord may be more inclined to let you out of your agreement. This is known as lease assignment. The new tenant will need to be financially stable and a good fit for the property. Be aware, though, that you may still be liable for the lease if the new tenant fails to meet their obligations.

    • Negotiate a Lease Termination Agreement: In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a lease termination agreement. This could involve paying a termination fee, which is often less than the remaining rent due under the lease. The specifics of this agreement will depend on your negotiation skills and the landlord’s willingness to cooperate.

    • Consult a Legal Professional: Navigating the legalities of breaking a commercial lease can be complex. A Commercial Lease lawyer or legal advisor can help you understand your rights and obligations under the lease, and can provide advice on the best course of action. They can also assist in negotiating with the landlord and drafting any necessary legal documents.

    • Review Your Business Insurance: Some business insurance policies include coverage for lease obligations in certain circumstances. Check your policy or consult with your insurance provider to see if this applies to you. If it does, your insurance may cover some of the costs associated with breaking the lease.

Remember, every situation is unique, and what works for one business may not work for another. It’s important to consider all your options and seek professional advice before making a decision.


Breaking a commercial lease is a significant decision that can have far-reaching implications for your business. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and it’s crucial to understand the potential legal and financial consequences. However, with careful planning, open communication, and savvy negotiation, it’s possible to navigate this complex situation without devastating your bottom line.

Remember, knowledge is power. By understanding your lease agreement, the potential costs, and your options for negotiation, you can make an informed decision that’s in the best interest of your business. And as always, when in doubt, seek professional advice.

Whether you’re considering breaking a commercial lease or just want to be prepared for all eventualities, we hope this article has provided valuable insights. If you have any questions or need further advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to a legal or real estate professional.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the reasons for breaking a commercial lease?

There are various reasons why a business owner may want to break a commercial lease, such as financial difficulties, business expansion, relocation, dissatisfaction with the premises, or breach of contract by the landlord. However, breaking a commercial lease can have serious consequences, such as legal action, damages, fees, and loss of reputation.

How can I break a commercial lease without penalty? 

The best way to break a commercial lease without penalty is to negotiate a termination agreement with the landlord. This may involve finding a replacement tenant, paying a termination fee, or agreeing to other terms that satisfy the landlord. Alternatively, you can try to invoke a clause in the lease that allows you to terminate the contract under certain circumstances, such as force majeure, constructive eviction, or landlord’s default.

What is force majeure and how does it affect my commercial lease?

Force majeure is a legal term that refers to an unforeseeable event that prevents a party from fulfilling their contractual obligations. Examples of force majeure events include natural disasters, wars, riots, strikes, or government actions. Depending on the wording of your commercial lease, you may be able to use force majeure as a ground for terminating the contract without liability. However, this may not be easy to prove in court, especially if the lease does not explicitly mention pandemics or public health crises as force majeure events.

What happens at the end of a commercial lease?

At the end of a commercial lease, several things can happen. If the lease has an option to renew and the tenant chooses to exercise this option, the lease can be extended for a further agreed-upon term. If there is no option to renew, or the tenant chooses not to renew, the tenant must vacate the premises by the end of the lease term. The tenant is typically responsible for returning the property in the same condition it was in at the start of the lease, barring normal wear and tear. If the tenant and landlord agree, a new lease can be negotiated and signed. If no action is taken, and the tenant continues to pay rent and the landlord continues to accept it, the lease may transition into a month-to-month lease, depending on local laws.