Leased Space: Know the Rules to Protect Your Business

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For many business owners, trying out a location before committing is critical. This certainly holds true for gym owners. For this reason, many gym and fitness club owners shop for leased space to operate their businesses and, if the location works, in many cases, they stay on as long-term tenants.

Though this sounds like a perfect arrangement, there can be wrinkles. Business owners need to understand the nuances of their leases so they know where their responsibilities begin and the landlord’s end. A good place to start is to take a close look at the small print.

There are a number of things gym owners should consider with a lease contract. Are they responsible for the care and maintenance of the parking lot and walkways? Are they responsible for repairing plate glass or HVAC systems? Working with a good attorney and/or realtor will be critical in understanding the specific contract language of the lease.

When it comes to insurance, gym owners leasing space should make sure they are getting the correct property insurance. Often, insurance for the building itself is not required via the lease, leaving the business owner only responsible for insuring their business contents and equipment.

Further, if they’ve made permanent improvements to the building, like adding a locker room, they’ll want to make sure they have insurance coverage for those spaces.

Finally, owners will want to understand if they have the ability to sublease or break the lease if an anchor store that fuels traffic to the shopping center leaves.

Aside from coverage for equipment, gym owners will also need liability coverage in case of an accident. They should understand, per their lease, the general liability limits they are required to carry, damage to premises limits, and umbrella coverage.

A good insurance partner who understands the fitness niche can play a key role in making sure a gym or fitness studio has the protection it needs, whether in a leased or owned building. They’ll understand the unique risks related to gyms and fitness studios and can assist business owners in understanding that risk, mitigating it and securing the right insurance should the worst happen.

Brian Rawlings is Practice Leader for FITLIFE™, which insures fitness, wellness and spa facilities, for Venture Programs. He can be reached at brawlings@ventureprograms.com.

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