Negotiating The Sublease

With changes in business strategies, a major existing tenant wants to sublease all or some of their rented office space to eliminate some locations and shrink operations in others. In this situation, the problem for landlords is whether it is a better strategy to enforce lease restrictions against subleasing or to work with tenants on the theory that the sooner sublease space is filled, the better for all. (In addition, another problem could be whether landlords should insist on sublease restrictions in new leases being negotiated now.)
Lease Restrictions
If there is no provision against the sublease in the original lease, the tenant has the right to assign or sublease without the owner’s consent or approval. However, most leases do contain this provision.
Although the building owner may take the position that no consent will be given to a sublease as long as prime space is available in the building, the tenant may make some good arguments for cooperation.
First, when there is much space available all around, a tenant looking for space can find it easily. A landlord is better off having a tenant in possession, even with a sublease, because the tenant may stay when the sublease expires.
Second, the landlord takes the risk that a prime tenant with much excess space may default under the lease either by being forced out of business or because the tenant is willing to risk a lawsuit to collect unpaid rent. By being cooperative in finding a subtenant, the landlord reduces the risk of a default by the prime tenant and has the additional security of the subtenant’s rent payments.
Perhaps most important, the landlord may gain the reputation for good tenant relationships that can help in the competitive years ahead. Helping the tenant to shed excess space can pay off when the tenant considers renewal of the present lease. Landlords who are known for taking a reasonable approach to tenant problems, both during and after lease negotiations, are bound to have an edge when a tenant must make a choice between very similar rental space in different buildings.