Should Landlord Demand A Personal Guarantee From A Commercial Tenant?

First of all, this is a business decision, not a legal decision. So the lawyer’s input is (or should be) limited to describing the risks and helping the client implement the business decision chosen. Second, my clients always blanche at the news that a contract is only worth the amount of muscle you are willing to put into fighting to force the other side to live up to its terms. Third, no contract will give you full protection against a true crook or con artist. You must always be prepared to back up the contract with emotional or financial muscle.

Now, generally, from the landlord’s perspective, a large company like Rite Aid or Walgreen’s, there is no need for a personal guarantee. But a new or small company, one man band or small family shop, as a commercial landlord, I’m asking for personal guarantee. In fact, in many cases the landlord might ask for a guarantee from spouse of personal guarantor.

If the tenant is unwilling to make a personal guarantee, that is a “red flag.” But a good real estate lawyer can find substitute solutions. What kind of solution? Well, a large deposit might be enough. Not merely 1st and last months’ rent but 6 months rent. Or a bond. Alternatively, maybe the tenant would be willing to issue a personal guarantee for only a portion of lease’s duration? One suggestion by a friend of mine who specializes in commercial real estate deals is to try and lock the tenant into the property by requiring the tenant to have their own “skin” in the game.

Me? I don’t do the deals, only the aftermath. So I want the lease to waive notice for eviction and a confession of judgment. Maybe even liquidated damages. That makes it quicker and cheaper for the client if I have to get involved.

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