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Commercial Property Ownership and Rights: Answers to Your Frequently-Asked Questions

Mon Oct 31st, 2022 on     Insurance Claims,    

Owning commercial property can be a profitable endeavor. However, when damage to your property happens, it can also be a headache. Below, we will cover some frequently asked questions concerning commercial property ownership in Florida. If you have an insurance claim, have had a claim denied, or have some other dispute related to your commercial property, a Florida commercial property lawyer from Ver Ploeg & Marino can help.

What Makes Property “Commercial?” 

A property is commercial when it is being used to make a profit through the running of a business on or in the property. Being designated as a commercial property is an important distinction as it impacts the rules applied to the business in terms of zoning, inspection, and many other aspects. A great many properties are classified as “commercial,” ranging from the petting zoo to the shopping mall. 

Your commercial property in Florida is subject to federal, state, and local laws and ordinances that will determine the requirements you must take concerning your commercial property. Working with a Florida commercial property attorney helps to support your profits by: 

  • Limiting your risk of being sued 
  • Limiting your risk of being foreclosed on 
  • Limiting our risk of being fined for non-compliance 

Given the many laws and rules that apply to commercial property, it is helpful to work with a lawyer from the start to ensure that any agreements you enter into will not lay the foundation for future issues. 

Do I Have to Perform Substantial Due Diligence Prior to Purchasing Commercial Property? 

Due diligence is a legal term that basically means the gathering of any and all relevant information to a transaction prior to entering into an agreement. When the parties to an agreement are both professionals engaged in a commercial transaction, it is presumed that they will conduct due diligence prior to making an agreement. Florida courts presume that businesses are capable of collecting the evidence they need to complete a commercial real estate transaction and that the relevant information is readily available. 

In Florida, when you purchase a residential property and certain undiscovered conditions are found after the sale, it can be nullified. When it comes to commercial properties, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that commercial buyers are considered significant investors and are capable of and knowledgeable concerning the need to perform substantial due diligence. It is important to maintain records of all your commercial transactions to provide valuable evidence in the event a dispute arises. 

What Kinds of Commercial Property Disputes Can a Lawyer Help Me With? 

Commercial property attorneys represent the interests of their commercial clients by carefully reviewing any proposed agreements and presenting edits in support of their clients’ positions. The process of closing a commercial real-estate deal is more complex than residential transactions, and related disputes may also vary in nature. 

Common causes of commercial real-estate litigation include: 

  • Failures to perform elements of the transaction 
  • Breach of contractual obligations 
  • Issues with the chain of title 
  • Waiver provisions presented in the contract 
  • Commercial property commission disputes 

Protecting your interests in a commercial property transaction requires a thorough understanding of the practical and legal implications of every clause in your commercial real estate contract. Commissions are an often contested issue when it comes to commercial property transactions, and Florida Statute 475.805 supports litigation for commission-related disputes that can be costly. 

Additional issues that may arise within the context of commercial real estate transactions include environmental impacts, community impact fees, development planning, and property taxes. When factors are not carefully considered prior to entering into a deal, you could find yourself having to cover substantial expenses to address the issues that result. 

Whether you are closing on the sale of a commercial property or signing a lease to expand your business, a commercial property attorney can help. 

Why Should I Hire a Commercial Property Lawyer When Buying or Selling Real Estate? 

The decision to purchase a piece of commercial property, whether personally or on behalf of your business, is not one to be taken lightly. The process of purchasing a property is complex and requires inspections, negotiations, and a closing, with the added pressure of a hot market with high demand. The reality is if you delay the closing of a property in the current market, you could miss out. This can lead to a disadvantage when you are working with savvy real estate agents and the other party’s attorneys. 

Your commercial property attorney protects your interests at each step of the process, including: 

  • Negotiations 
  • Financing agreements 
  • Lease agreements 
  • A thorough review of federal and state zoning requirements 
  • Environmental issue review 
  • Land use permits 
  • Insurance contracting 

Protecting your interests in the fast-paced commercial real estate market is supported by working with an attorney whose sole goal is helping you make the most of your commercial property investment. 

If I Plan to Lease Commercial Property, Do I Need a Lawyer? 

Commercial leases are complex documents that are legally binding, drafted by the attorney of the party presenting it to you, and they are often many dozens of pages long. Signing a lease binds you to the terms included within, and if you encounter a problem that conflicts with the lease contract, you can expect a costly legal dispute to resolve the issue. 

While you might think that you only have the option of saying yes or no to a commercial lease, that is not usually the case. Leases are a proposal until they are signed, and your Florida commercial real estate lawyer can renegotiate terms in the proposed lease. Your attorney will ensure that you accomplish what you need to in your lease terms and that there are no terms that could lead to financial harm to your business in the future.

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