Signage Rights – It's Not Just the Landlord's Call

Time SquareMany tenants are large enough in an office project to warrant asking for a building top or monument sign.  Just like retail tenants expect, this signage can drive new business or enhance the brand of the company.  In either case the negotiation of the signage rights requires a detailed examination of the situation.

In most leases signage rights are “subject to municipal code” and that is where a tenant representative must focus his or her attention during the negotiation with the landlord.  In many instances the project in which a building is located will have a Master Signage Program (“MSP”) that has been negotiated between the city and the developer of the project.  An MSP designates where the signs can be placed, the number and size of the signs, and may even restrict the color, material or ability to light a sign.  Any signage that does not comply with the MSP, whether or not it is allowed in the lease, will need some sort of variance or approval from the municipality that governs the project.

The best way to ensure that the lease rights will be allowable by the local municipality is to concurrently obtain the signage permit while negotiating the lease. 

Building with Bank SignI am currently negotiating a lease in a new development that is under construction and the MSP is still being reviewed by the city.  So we have engaged the city ourselves to make sure we understand the ultimate restrictions the city will impose on the project and the MSP. One such restriction to consider, especially in suburban locations, is a “night sky” restriction whereby the local residents have opposed lighted signs (and parking lots) at night.  Although the lease may allow for a lighted sign, the city may not.

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