If you work in the Pennsylvania real estate market, chances are you may have encountered the lis pendens doctrine. Lis pendens is a latin term that roughly translates to “notice of a pending legal action”. As its translation indicates, the purpose of a lis pendens is to give notice to a third-person (typically a potential buyer) that a certain parcel of real estate is subject to a pending lawsuit and that any interest a buyer acquires in that real estate will be subject to the result of the pending legal action.

In its most practical sense, a lis pendens is a written filing indexed against a parcel of real estate such that any potential buyer will be made aware that there is an ongoing dispute relating to title of the property. This effectively precludes a transfer of real property since any potential buyer would then own the property subject to the cloud on title.

As a business owner, after spending countless hours researching and visiting commercial space, and finally finding the right location, you are often presented with a lengthy commercial lease.  Many will focus on the rent and term of the lease, but overlook the other details.  It is important to have an attorney review any commercial lease, whether you are entering a new lease or renewing an existing lease.  Far too often, the business owner only consults an attorney when a problem arises – and they are surprised to find out that the terms do not mean what they thought at the outset.  

Key areas that the business owner should review with their attorney are:  
•    Common area maintenance costs and calculations
•    Confessions of judgment
•    Responsibility for repairs
•    Insurance requirements
•    Subletting and assignment
•    Legal options in the case of a breach.  

Often there is room for negotiation, but even if there is not, you can gain valuable knowledge by consulting with an attorney so that you have a full understanding of your rights and obligations, and can plan accordingly.

While consulting with an attorney may result in a modest increase to the amount of legal fees associated with the cost of starting up a business, it is important for small business owners to recognize the long term impact of signing a lease that has not been negotiated, or at least reviewed, by an attorney, and may save money in the long run.

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