Matt Dickstein
Business Attorney
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39488 Stevenson Place #100, Fremont, CA 94539

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Lawyer for Dentists, Dental Corporations and Group Dental Practices

By Matt Dickstein

Leases for Dental Offices

Thank you for finding my suite of articles on the basic corporate, business and contract law issues for dental corporations and group dental practices in California.  The articles in this suite are:


Should you incorporate your dental practice?
Legal compliance checklist for a dental corporation
Classifying a dentist as an employee or contractor
Dentist employment and independent contractor agreements
Compensation structures for group dental practices 
Shareholder buy-sell agreements for dental corporations
May a dentist compete against his or her former practice?
Stealing employees
Bringing a new dentist into a dental practice
Buy-in and buy-out of a dentist to a dental group
Buying and selling a dental practice
Preparing to sell a solo dental practice
Merging dental practices
Leases for dental offices          ◄You are here
How a non-licensed person works with a dental practice; administrative / management service companies
Leaving a dental practice / closing a dental practice

Dental offices need special lease provisions.  All leases need negotiation and revision, but leases for dentists need a little more.  In this article, I discuss some advanced lease provisions that dentists frequently need.  For a basic explanation of commercial leases, refer to my article Understanding Commercial Leases.

Without further adieu, dentists should consider these additional lease provisions:

Tenant Improvements

Negotiate a construction plan with the landlord before you sign the lease.  Also be clear what the lease requires at the end of the term regarding your removal of the tenant improvements and restoration of the premises to their original condition.  At the end of a lease, a landlord is more likely to demolish the specialized tenant improvements of a dental office than the more classic office or retail tenant finish.  You might want to negotiate the cost of restoration in the lease.  

Hours of Operation

In many leases, the landlord does not provide basic services on the weekend, holidays or after hours.  If you service patients on the weekend, after-hours or on holidays, or at other unusual hours, be sure that the lease reflects this and that the landlord provides basic services during off-hours.  Heating and air-conditioning are the most obvious needs – when these services are not provided, office space (especially space with big windows) can be freezing in the winter and roasting in the summer.   Also, note that some leases require specific hours for which you must be open for business, so be sure that you will be open at these times (or change the lease to reflect your business hours). 

ADA Compliance

You’ll pay the costs of ADA compliance for your office; usually you do this when building out the space and constructing tenant improvements.  With ADA compliance, the real issue is who pays for compliance to the building (as opposed to your premises).  Understand that as a practical matter, your dental office may trigger the need for ADA compliance for the whole building.  You don’t want to bear the entire cost of this work, however; you’d much rather make the landlord pay for it or at worst, share the cost with the other tenants in the building.  Therefore be on the lookout for leases that obligate the tenant to pay the costs of ADA compliance for the building (not just your premises).

Forced Move to Substitute Premises

Many leases have provisions requiring the tenant to consent to a substitute premises if the landlord wants to move the tenant.   Delete these provisions from the lease if your tenant improvements are significant, or if your patients can only access your original office.

Use of Premises

You may want to take on other health care practitioners to increase the scope of services you offer your patients.  In this respect, be careful that your use clause isn’t too narrow.

Assignment / Sublet

You may want to sublet single offices in your premises to related health care providers.  Make sure your assignment / sublet provision permits this.  Also, it helps to have a provision that permits you to assign the lease to a buyer of your practice who meets certain financial standards -- this helps with your exit from your practice. 

Co-Tenancy Termination

To get patients or other business, your dental practice might depend on another practice or business that is located next door or in the same building or complex.  If this is the case, consider negotiating for the right to terminate your lease if this other practice or business were to leave. 

Death / Disability Termination

For solo practitioners, consider negotiating for an automatic termination of the lease if you were to die or become disabled.  This gives peace of mind to you and your family, because they won’t be stuck with your lease liability after you lose the ability to practice.

And lastly,

Privacy and Landlord Access

Dentists need to limit the landlord's access to examining rooms and other areas during certain hours of the day. Generally, dental tenants want to restrict the landlord's reentry rights to public areas of the office.

If you’re still awake at this point, congratulations.  Don’t forget to read Understanding Commercial Leases for a more basic explanation of commercial leases, and then Common Area Maintenance (CAM) in a Commercial Lease.  

I hope this article is useful to you.  As always, I only glossed over the outlines of the subject.  A lease is a major financial commitment so please talk with a lawyer before signing one.  Good luck.

Call me to schedule a legal consultation: 510-796-9144

Matt Dickstein, Business Attorney - 39488 Stevenson Place, Fremont CA 94539
(510) 796-9144 Google

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