Contributed By McGuireWoods LLP
Most commercial leases limit the permitted use of the leased premises, whether for retail, office, warehouse, or other use. Office and warehouse leases may typically refer only to “general” office or warehouse use, while other kinds of leases are much more specific. For example, retail leases may contain very specific descriptions that address particular details of what may be sold, or how much space may be devoted to the sale of particular items, often to protect exclusive use rights that may have been granted to other tenants. These leases may also include a list of prohibited uses that are forbidden within a particular shopping center or development. Similarly, leases for industrial or manufacturing uses are often tightly controlled, given landlords’ desire to protect their property from environmental problems and nuisances.
In addition to limitations imposed by a lease, parties are subject to the zoning ordinances and regulations of the jurisdiction in which the premises is located. These may limit the permitted uses, or specify more prohibited uses. They may also include regulations on the number of required parking spaces, building codes, signage restrictions (size, height, etc), and any other number of issues.
Finally, a property may also be subject to recorded covenants, conditions or restrictions that impact its use or development. For example, properties located in retail shopping centers, office parks and industrial parks are often encumbered by a declaration of easements or covenants that control permitted uses, require approval of new development (typically by an architectural committee or other governing body), or grant utility, access or other easements to adjacent owners.