Commercial Lease & Property Agreements
in West Virginia

West Virginian businesses and residents may encounter a wide range of complex property agreements – including commercial lease agreements, residential lease agreements, homeowner association agreements, and many others. Navigating property law in West Virginia can be complicated – especially for newer companies or those venturing into real estate investments for the first time. When approaching these endeavors, it may help to seek guidance from a qualified business lawyer who thoroughly understands property law in West Virginia. Book a consultation with Zeni Law to execute property agreements confidently and efficiently.

Navigating Commercial Lease Agreements

A commercial lease agreement represents a relationship between a business and a landlord. The company gains access to the property to conduct its operations in exchange for a rental fee. Many potential companies may wish to pursue commercial lease agreements, including (but not limited to):

  • Retail businesses
  • Warehouse or storage businesses
  • Industrial operations
  • Service-based businesses needing space to meet with clients
  • Companies that require office space for administrative operations
  • Parking lots

West Virginia Laws on Commercial Lease Agreements

Contract law is an essential consideration regarding commercial lease agreements in West Virginia, as very few protections exist beyond this framework. While residential tenants enjoy a wide range of protections under federal and state legislation, commercial tenants can, in many cases, only pursue dispute resolution through the specific terms laid out in the commercial lease agreement. That being said, the recent pandemic should remind businesses that, in theory, the government has the authority to step in and supersede any commercial agreement in the name of a public emergency – and such public emergencies remain mercifully rare.

West Virginia recognizes various types of commercial lease agreements:

Under a gross lease, the property owner covers all operating expenses related to the property. These might include utilities, property taxes, repairs, and so on. Gross leases typically mean that the tenant pays a flat rate per month (or other period stipulated in the lease agreement); this fee is sometimes higher than that charged in net lease agreements because the landlord typically includes their calculations for expected operating expenses in the cost of rent.

  • Under a net lease, the tenant business covers most costs associated with the property, leading to minimal requirements for the landlord. In this model, the tenant’s property use costs may fluctuate as incidental expenditures for maintenance or other issues arise.

It is possible to change both types of leases to include some – but not all – property-related expenses in the rental fees. 

Top Priorities When Approaching Commercial Lease Agreements

Businesses and landlords should carefully consider various factors when approaching commercial lease agreements. The landlord is often the party primarily responsible for drafting the lease agreement. Still, prospective tenants may also wish to negotiate for specific terms that they anticipate will be of value to their business.

  • Always use proper business names in any lease agreement. It should be specified if either business uses a DBA (doing business as) name
  • Identify the premises. While tenants are unlikely to walk through the wrong door, commercial properties often include outdoor spaces such as parking or alley access. Many commercial lease agreements often place multiple tenants in a single structure (such as in office or medical buildings in which businesses lease suites), so precisely delineating which portions of the property a tenant has the right to use and the degree of control they have within those premises, is a crucial step to take in the lease agreement to prevent unnecessary disputes arising from confusion. 
  • Clearly show rent calculation methods. Particularly in the case of an agreement whose fee is not “fixed” over the term of the lease, landlords need to show how they arrive at the fees they charge and for tenants to understand any factors in their use of the premises that may cause their costs to go up or down.
  • Set clear start and end dates. Whereas residential lease agreements are often signed for one or two years or even months, commercial lease agreements frequently cover much longer. Sometimes, tenant businesses or landlords may assume the lease will continue indefinitely. Assumptions, however, are seldom legally enforceable – and often lead to problems when not shared. Setting out explicit start and end dates in the contract and establishing options and procedures for lease renewal removes the risks involved in taking for granted that all parties share the exact expectations by putting those expectations in a document all involved can reference. 
  • Specify how the premises may be used. Here again, the degree of control tenants will have over the premises they rent comes into play. Depending on how the landlord wishes to use any adjacent properties, specific activities (such as events scheduling that results in a sharp increase in traffic to and from the location or the use of certain hazardous substances in manufacturing) on the rented premises may be restricted or prohibited by the lease agreement.

Speak With a Business Lawyer Who Understands Property Law

Property agreements can provide companies with a degree of reliability and security. However, companies must draft and execute these agreements effectively to experience the full degree of protection supplied by contract law. Legal assistance may be helpful if a company is approaching property agreements for the first time, closing a significant deal. Different types of arrangements may be more appropriate than others based on the unique needs of each business, and an online article cannot provide targeted advice in the same way as a qualified attorney. Contact Zeni Law today and learn more about the most suitable types of property agreements for your situation.