Articles Posted in BUSINESS LAW

Atlanta Business lawyers at The Libby Law Firm know that a Georgia corporation must be represented by an attorney in order for it to file a claim or to defend itself in a suit brought against it. This might seem like a heavy burden for a business––after all, an individual can represent him- or herself in court––so why must a corporation obtain representation instead of, say, being represented by the sole shareholder in court?

Although an individual can represent him- or herself in court––which is called “appearing pro se”––Georgia law prohibits a non-attorney from representing someone else in court. Corporations are considered to be and treated like an individual under law; therefore, permitting the shareholder to represent the corporation would be allowing the unauthorized practice of law because a non-attorney (the shareholder) would be representing another (the corporation) in court.

In fact, the Supreme Court of Georgia has held that:

Atlanta business lawyer Duncan H. Adams, notes that as an Atlanta, Georgia Business attorney, I have seen a change in the way business is conducted since the economy started to decline more than two years ago. The change is evident in heavily populated urban areas like Atlanta, but can also be seen across Georgia. The level of trepidation is palpable and business deals that used to be handled with a verbal agreement and a handshake now often require legal review and documentation.

Atlanta business lawyers believe the shift can be attributed to the struggle that most businesses are engaged in due to the poor global economic situation. This is especially true for small business in Georgia. Atlanta business lawyers on retainer or a phone call away are a must for small businesses in Georgia.

The economic climate has influenced the business community to become more ruthless. Many companies are enforcing contractual agreements strictly and not allowing for any leeway in interpretation or timing. The ability of a customer to pick up the phone and with a short call gain one-time forgiveness for a particular contractual term, like a payment deadline, is limited. Most companies are tightening their belts and putting profits before customer service and long-standing relationships.

Moreover, the state of the economy has encouraged a more serious and illegal type of bad behavior. Some business people are resorting to fraudulent activities or unfair business practices. These activities include, but are not limited to, false advertising, product misrepresentation and substandard quality resulting in known product defects. As the incidence of business failure increases, more business are resorting to these desperate measures. Because of this, even business dealings between close friends, relatives and long-time business partners are being scrutinized more closely.

Some of the types of matters we handle are as follows:

• Breach of contract claims

• Partnership disputes

• Corporate disputes

• Industrial or commercial lease disputes

• Minority shareholder oppression claims

• Insurance disputes

• Business purchase or sale agreements

Commercial litigation

Land use and zoning violations

• Enforcement of nondisclosure or non-compete covenants

• Fraud, misrepresentation, or material nondisclosure

• Enforcement of nondisclosure or non-compete covenants

• Officer and Director Liability

• Breach of fiduciary duty

• Theft of corporate opportunities

• Premise liability

Ownership disputes

Employment matters

Conversion by employees
Misappropriation of corporate assets

Corporate Theft

• Shareholder derivative lawsuits

• Breach of fiduciary duty

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As a residential and commercial construction arbitration lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I can assure you that most persons entering into a Georgia construction contract do not think of worst case scenarios should any parties to the contract fail to perform their obligations according to Georgia construction contract law and construction industry standards.

• What is Georgia Construction arbitration; Is it binding? How does it work?

• What will happens if a contracting party fails to pay?


• What happens if the purchaser of contractor or builder services cannot be satisfied no matter what is done?

• What will happen if the contractor or builder neglects his duties?


• What do I do if I receive a Georgia “Right to Repair Act” Letter?

• Do I need to, and should I, send a Georgia “Right to Repair Act” Letter?

• What will happen if residential or commercial construction does not meet or exceed industry standards?

The questions and scenarios surrounding Georgia construction claims are endless as are the actual real life occurrences, which I witness happening day in and day out. To survive in the construction business world, it is best to be prepared for all possibilities. The best way to do this is to have a contract in place which fairly, resourcefully, and adequately covers almost any issues which might arise in any Georgia construction claim scenario.

For years, Georgia construction litigation was considered the more costly, more time consuming manner of dealing with disputes, and so many contracts included arbitration clauses instead. Georgia construction arbitration has many varied forms and phases, which are its counterparts to Georgia litigation. It is usually up to the parties to an arbitration, with the assistance of the arbitrator or arbitration panel, to make the decisions about pre-arbitration matters which are somewhat customized to the construction case. The most important and controversial aspect to Georgia construction arbitration clauses are that they are binding decisions and cannot be appealed to any court absent extraordinary circumstances. Even then, they are rarely overturned by a court of competent jurisdiction, but merely modified. One might say the good news in all of this is that Georgia construction arbitration can be a relatively fast and inexpensive forum for resolving Georgia construction disputes.

However, others counter this argument stating that the cost of arbitration has skyrocketed while the time it takes for a case to make its way through Georgia state courts has diminished significantly.

Two California Supreme Court cases held that the courts cannot overturn a binding arbitration award even if the arbitrator fails to follow California substantive law. As a result, it becomes literally impossible to have an erroneous decision reviewed by the courts. While this is a California case, State Supreme Court holdings often have a strong influence on the courts in other states.

Needless to say, if you enter into a Georgia Contract with arbitration, you should consult a Georgia contract lawyer with expertise in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. This is especially true if the contract you are entering is a Georgia construction contract for new home construction, a renovation contract, or contract for any similar building, structure creation, or like-kind services.

Formerly a typical arbitration clause in a construction contract might read as follows:

All claims or disputes between the contractor and the Owner arising out of or relating to the Contract Documents, or the breach thereof, shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the Construction Industry Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association currently in effect unless the parties mutually agree otherwise. The award rendered by the arbitrator or arbitrators shall be final, and judgment may be entered upon it in accordance with applicable law in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

– American Institute of Architects specifications (formA201) –

Due to the current trends in Georgia construction law and the arbitration process itself, as an Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyer with The Libby Law Firm, I would suggest incorporating certain additional considerations into arbitration clauses when used to give the parties to an arbitration greater control. For example,

Arbitration forum. The standard dispute resolution forum in the construction industry is the American Arbitration Association (AAA). However, recently, a number of other dispute resolution service providers (e.g. Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service “JAMS”) have developed and many attorneys now prefer them over the AAA. The choice of an arbitration forum should be reviewed in context of the cost, arbitration panel members, and forum arbitration rules. Particular attention should be paid to the forum’s arbitration rules since they are incorporated into the arbitration clause. Though, the arbitration clause may include provisions that delete all or portions of the forum’s rules.

Discovery. Most arbitration clauses limit the scope of pre-arbitration discovery. A well-drafted arbitration clause will restrict or expand discovery to correlate to the dollar value of the dispute.

Standard for Court Review of the Award. An arbitration clause can be drafted to require the arbitrators’ decision to comply with the substantive law. If the arbitrator violates such a provision, the parties to the arbitration may seek to overturn the award since the arbitrator exceeded the authority granted under the arbitration contract clause. To ensure that a court has enough information to properly review the arbitrators’ award the arbitration clause should also require the arbitrators to render a well- reasoned opinion. The opinion should include a statement of the factual determination made by the arbitrators and the conclusions of law rendered by the arbitrator. Finally, if you want the decision to be reviewed by the courts for compliance with substantive law, a provision should be included in the clause that clearly states that desire.

The best method for ensuring that a Georgia construction dispute is correctly and fairly resolved is through situation-specific clauses in properly-drafted construction contracts. The arbitration clause is one of many clauses included in a typical construction contract, and each clause can be affected greatly by recent changes in the law. It is thus wise for any construction contract to be drafted or at least reviewed by counsel before signing.

The Libby Law Firm Georgia construction lawyers can negotiate, review, and draft your construction contract in light of all of the most recent changes in accordance to Georgia construction law and arbitration proceedings, which is most favorable to you. If you are considering entering into a construction contract or amending a previous contract in light of recent changes in the law, contact our Atlanta construction contract law firm and come in for a consultation. Seeking the assistance of a seasoned Atlanta, Georgia construction contract and arbitration lawyer adept is the least you can do to protect yourself from worst case scenarios.


As a well-known Georgia construction arbitration lawyer with a perfect Avvo rating of 10, I am here to tell you that if anything can go wrong in a construction contract or in construction, it will. The very nature, imperfection, and importance construction combined with the building a home or commercial structure readily lends itself to disputes and conflict. This is likely true because for many, a home is the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. In addition, construction is not what it seems to be on paper. It is, by its nature, imperfect and the result and methods of construction are readily subjective.

In short, protect yourself because this construction is “big deal” to parties to the contract and maintains a high rate of conflict.

If you have legal dispute or binding arbitration with a contractor, builder, sub-contractor or architect whose work does not meet or exceed Georgia industry standards, you should contact The Libby Law Firm without delay.
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As a well-known Atlanta, Georgia Partnership Lawyer, I handle many cases involving Georgia business partnership conflicts. One of the most common scenarios is for one partner to be saddled with running the business entity single-handedly. This single-handed effort by one partner is usually in stark contrast to the terms and intent any partnership operating agreement, which governs the duties and responsibilities of the partners. This is an extremely destructive situation for the partner who is trying to maintain the business. As this partner attempts to shoulder all the responsibility for the business; including business debts, liabilities, day-to-day business problems, the financial position of all the business partners suffer. In due course, all partners in the business are on the path to failure.

Surprisingly, many business owners do attempt to struggle alone through this type of situation due to a personal sense of responsibility and unwillingness to admit that a problem exists. But this is not the recommended course of action. An Atlanta, Georgia Partnership Dispute Attorney should always be consulted with when a business partnership is suffering due to one or more partner’s inability to carry out the fiduciary duties and responsibilities implicit in most partnerships. The decision to work with a Georgia partnership attorney to resolve partnership disputes and disharmony could very well save your business, your financial situation, and possibly business and familial relationships.

It is unwise to allow a business partner to walk away from legitimate responsibilities, especially when this can both damage the partnership business and the remaining partners’ credit and future prosperity. Remember, under Georgia Partnership Law, you do have legal recourse.

At The Libby Law Firm, our team of experienced Atlanta, Georgia Partnership Dispute Attorneys are equipped to resolve almost any partnership issues which may arise in the course of a partnership. Our Atlanta, Georgia business lawyers routinely help business owners set up partnership agreements and later enforce the terms of these agreements if necessary, in order to ensure that all partners are fulfilling their obligations.

Our Atlanta, Georgia partnership litigation attorneys will work with you to equalize your partnership duties and responsibilities. Whatever your circumstances are regarding a partnership that is failing or is poised to turn into a bona fide partnership litigation lawsuit, our Firm is ready to help you get your business back on the road to success. Call our office today to discuss your situation at (404) 467-8611.
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As a Corporate Attorney in Atlanta who advises sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations, it is important to remember that each entity is more than just a name on paper that you take on to take advantage of various tax benefits.

Even if you have a simple family-owned business formed as a C Corp, that is no more than you and your spouse as the sole directors and shareholders, it is still important to observe basic required corporate formalities if you want to maintain the protection from personal liability that such a corporation provides.

If you fail to observe these basic formalities, you could risk your C Corp being disregarded by a court in an action called “Piercing the Corporate Veil” where the court holds that you indeed do not have a proper corporation and therefore can be held personally liable for any and all debts.
So, to avoid this and maintain the corporation you have established, what do you have to do?

Annual Meetings. Shareholders and directors must generally meet at least once a year to approve and authorize new business, elect new directors and officers, etc. Of course if this is just you and your spouse, partner, friend, etc., this can be as simple as sitting down or discussing over the phone the business of the company. The key to formalizing this step is keeping records of the meeting known as Minutes.

Minutes. Be sure to keep timely and accurate minutes of all shareholder and director meetings. In other words, write down what actions were discussed, agreed to, and taken, when, by whom, and where. The proper form for Minutes can be obtained from a licensed Georgia Business Attorney.

Consent Forms. Forms for “Actions by Unanimous Written Consent” can also be obtained from your business attorney to formalize and record decisions made at these meetings.

REMEMBER: THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR FOLLOWING GEORGIA CORPORATE FORMALITIES

At The Libby Law Firm we advise C Corps, Subchapter S Corps, LLCs, and many other types of corporations and business entities on following corporate formalities. Our Atlanta Business Lawyers know the importance of following corporate formalities and how this can prevent you from being personally liable for corporate debts, judgments, and other liabilities of your corporation.
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As an Atlanta, Georgia Corporate Attorney, advising CEOs, CFOs, Secretary, Directors, Officers, Shareholders, it is critical you avoid mingling your personal affairs with any business matters, and vice versa. Many new business owners seek to protect themselves from personal liability by setting up corporations, the most popular being Limited Liability Company (or LLC). Regardless, a corporation can only protect you from personal liability stemming from your corporations liability, to the extent, you take care to separate your role in the corporation from your role as an individual.

Generally, the fist step in protecting yourself from debts and liabilities incurred by your corporation is incorporating your corporation (or business). In Georgia, filing the appropriate documents with the Georgia Secretary of State and creating a Limited Liability Company (or LLC) or a Corporation, can provide protection from personal liability. However, taking this action will not give you absolute protection from liability. Additional steps in your behavior, statements, and actions are critical in protecting yourself from being personally liable for debts of the corporation. When you are held liable for debts of the corporation because the company and your personal affairs are to tightly interwoven, is called Piercing the Corporate Veil.

Piercing the Corporate Veil occurs when opposing counsel (or another party) can show that the CEOs, CFOs, Secretary, Directors, Officers, Shareholders, etc. are mingling corporate their affairs with their individual affairs. Doing this is a huge mistake and you should avoid it at all cost no matter what inconvenience it may cause you or what your personal view of the Georgia law on Piercing the Corporate Veil encompasses.

Under what circumstances can I be personally liable for debts of the LLC, or corporation? And, why should I take additional steps for protection?


As a Corporate Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I know from seeing Piercing the Corporate Veil legal proceedings first-hand that taking additional precautions can prevent creditors from going after your personal assets – such as your money or your home – in the event your business incurs debts that it is unable to pay. These debts can include car loans, bank loans, lease obligations, and money owed to lawyers, accountants, etc., for services rendered to the business.

These extra precautions can also prevent plaintiffs from collecting money from your personal accounts and assets to satisfy a judgment against you. A Georgia business could incur this type of liability in a variety of ways, including:


• A personal injury or accident in your office––coffee burn, slip and fall, etc.


• A product or service that injures a client, either physically or financially


• A car accident that occurs when an employee is making a delivery or driving to meet a client in the scope of work.

• Mismanagement of a client’s money


So what are some extra precautions you must take take?


• Georgia law requires corporate entities to file for renewal every year. This is a quick, relatively low-cost ($50.00 annual fee) process that keeps your corporation or LLC active. If you do not renew your business, the Georgia Secretary of State will administratively dissolve your corporation and, therefore, your protection from personal liability.


• Keep your corporate and personal bank accounts separate. Do not use your business account to pay for personal expenses – taking your family out to dinner with business funds, buying presents for your in-laws with corporate monies, paying for a weekend getaway “on the corporations’ tab”, etc.


• Do not personally guarantee any loans or financial arrangements for the corporation if you can avoid doing so. Acting as a personal guarantor opens the door to personal liability, as creditors can look to you to pay the business’s debts.

• Make sure that all of your contracts entered into using your corporate position and then your name in this capacity (i.e. as President, etc.) Do not use your individual name, even if you are the sole shareholder. For Example:

___________________________ Signed, Larry J. Doe, President ABC Enterprises of Atlanta, LLC

• Maintain the proper insurance for your business and make sure that the corporation’s name is listed as the “name insured” on the insurance policy. Your Atlanta, Georgia, Corporate Insurance Attorney should be able to help you with this process. Additionally, keep written records of discussions and of how the insurance agents, lawyers, CPAs, advised you to ensure your business is safe or you want to compare it to another opinion at a different time. A personal umbrella policy might also provide additional personal protection for business owners.


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In my Atlanta, Georgia Civil Arbitration Law Firm, I have worked with clients who have taken their business disputes to the court system for resolution and others who have gone through the process of arbitration. Many times, a business contract specifically states that all disputes must be resolved through arbitration, yet unless contractually mandated, arbitration is often overlooked. It is important to note that while both methods have their advantages; arbitration is often the fastest and can be very cost effective.

In Georgia, it can take a minimum of a year for a case to go to trial, while the date of the final arbitration hearing can be set much sooner. Disputes are often resolved just a few months after the arbitration process is initiated. The disadvantage to arbitration is that the parties named in the dispute will pay for the time of an arbitrator. Arbitrators belong to arbitration associations that are usually private businesses, and fees for an arbitrator can cost several hundred dollars per hour. The court system, on the other hand, is funded by tax revenue and requires that the parties pay only filing fees and some other expenses and costs.

Besides the timing advantage, another strong point to arbitration is that the parties can choose the arbitrator that will preside over the case. Arbitrators have been trained in specific technical areas of the law and can be picked with this in mind. Judges in court proceedings cannot be picked and, although they have a broad knowledge of the law, the judge assigned to a case may not possess proficiency in the area that the dispute covers. In complex Georgia Business Disputes, having the option to choose a knowledgeable arbitrator will ensure that all parties are treated fairly under Georgia law.

When involved in business disputes resolved in the court system or through arbitration, it is advisable to retain an Atlanta, Georgia Arbitration Attorney. The lawyers at The Libby Law Firm have practice experience in all areas of Business Arbitration, Construction Arbitration, Contract Arbitration, and numerous other areas of law in which arbitration is an appropriate potential resolution.

The Georgia Arbitration Attorneys at The Libby Law Firm are well versed in the Georgia Arbitration Process despite the various rules and regulations set forth by different arbitration companies. Arbitration is a somewhat new alternative to litigation. While arbitration has been around for centuries, its modern day application is rapidly increasing.

At The Libby Law Firm, our Atlanta, Georgia Arbitration Lawyers know how to use the arbitration process to your advantage. The rules in an arbitration proceeding are usually more casual and the arbitrator or arbitration panel is usually more knowledgeable about the subject matter of the arbitration. The Libby Law Firm Atlanta, Georgia Arbitration lawyers keep abreast of the arbitration trends in various areas of law as well as the tendencies of local and regional arbitration panels. Protecting and promoting the best interests of you, your families, and your business, are at the heart of our goals. We invite you to let us educate you about the Georgia Arbitration Process. It can be effective, less costly, and in many cases such as Georgia New Construction Arbitration Cases, binding with no right to appeal.
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As an Atlanta Partnership Dispute Attorney, I realize that a partnership is created anytime two or more people go into business together. Our Top Atlanta Business Partnership Lawyers typically refer to “partnerships” as specific legal entities called general partnerships or limited partnerships. However, for simplicity in this discussion we will refer to any group of people who are in business whether shareholders in a closely held corporation or members of an LLC as “partners.”

REDUCE YOUR PARTNERSHIP TO WRITING!

My first and foremost advice as an Atlanta Business Partnership Lawyer, is to reduce your Georgia Partnership Relationship to writing. The worst thing partners can do is establish a business or enter into some form of joint venture without a clear agreement. This agreement should be reduced to writing to avoid any ambiguities or misunderstandings about these responsibilities. With or without a written partnership agreement, disputes will occur. If the dispute cannot be resolved between the partners, each partner needs effective legal representation. Atlanta, Georgia, Litigation or Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration (Collectively referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR) may become necessary. While Georgia Partnership Litigation is never a pleasant option, the consequences of not enforcing your rights may be far worse. AThe Libby Law Firm Atlanta-Based Business Attorneys are exceptional ADR masters and may possibly carry the day and protect your best interests without see in the inside of a courtroom

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF
Are you the minority shareholder in a closely held corporation? Are you being prevented from viewing the company’s financial documents, which precludes you from knowing whether you are receiving your proper share of business profits? Is the majority shareholder paying himself an exorbitant salary (or flying on a private jet)? Not taking action to protect your legal rights and interests can cost you lots of money over the years.

MORE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF
Are you the majority shareholder? Have you exercised your fiduciary duties to your partners in responsible and reasonable manner? Can you avoid a lawsuit from your partners for breach of your fiduciary duty?

TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY!

Other Atlanta, Georgia Partnership Disputes may arise when one partner takes an opportunity for herself, which, should have been presented to the business, over competing business by one partner or over business funding. Whether you are an individual, family, business, or other type of clientele, please take the opportunity to let us assist you. Without action, your problems will almost surely get worse and you will find yourself in at the point of no return.

Should you ever find yourself in a position where you or your partners have a dispute, you should immediately seek legal advice to protect your interests. We will work to resolve disputes informally and inexpensively, but when litigation or ADR is necessary, The Libby Law Firm will be glad to be your zealous advocate for your position to obtain you the best possible result. An initial consultation on these matters is available without cost or obligation. The Libby Law Firm Attorneys are Smart, Resourceful, and Aggressive and may be your saving action. However, you need to act by Contacting Us immediately.
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As an ATL business lawyer, handling numerous Non-Competition (non-compete) and Non-Solicitation laws on a regular basis. The Atlanta Small Business Lawyers at The Libby Law Firm specialize in Georgia Contract Law for small to medium sized businesses. The Libby Law Firm is a well-known and well-respected Atlanta Small Business Law Firm. Our Firm represents a numerous small and medium sized businesses in an abundance of capacities. In this Blog, I analyze the “Georgia Restrictive Covenants Act”, which I believe will significantly change relationships between employers and employee in small and medium sized businesses. I believe this will be especially true in small to medium sized businesses and businesses that employ in specialty areas.

THE “GEORGIA RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS ACT” – THE “BLUE PENCIL” COMES OUT

I write this Blog as an Atlanta, Georgia, Small Business Attorney, to let you know a most recent change in Georgia Contract Law, which is bound to have a profound affect on Atlanta Small Business Employer – Employee relations. Georgia voters have favored a constitutional amendment on November 2nd, 2010, which speculated on stringent trade laws; thereby setting constraints on trade and its laws for workers in Georgia. The newly enabled law allows Georgia Courts to repair Restrictive (Non-Compete) Covenants in Georgia Contracts, which bind the employee. In the past, any illegality in the Georgia Restrictive Non-Compete Covenants would have caused the whole contract to fail.


To put it plainly, a fatally drafted Georgia Non-Compete clause or Non-Solicitation Clause drafted by an employer will be given effect as if it were drafted within the limits of the law. Thus, it alters already existing law, which previously rendered the entire restrictive covenant ineffective. This means if any of the restrictive covenants in the contract were unenforceable, whether because of geographical restrictions, scope of work restrictions, or time constraints, the whole contract will be held void ab initio. Now, the Judge can write in the restrictive covenants so that they are enforceable. This action is referred to as “blue penciling” and is tantamount to the judge correcting the contract so that the restrictive covenants are enforceable.

The new law is viewed as dubious, given the incongruity/discrepancy in the date of it being effective. While those who drafted the Georgia House Bill 173 declared that it would be enforced from November 3rd, 2010, the Georgia Constitution asserts that new laws should come into effect from the beginning of the coming year, January 1st. How this drafting error will affect anyone legally is uncertain and chances are that it may have to do the rounds of the courts to determine how it will be applied.

In its most practical aspect, what concerns those employees who intend to start a new business venture, is that; (a) An employment contract implemented before November 3rd, 2010, consisting of a restrictive covenant (a Georgia Non-Compete or Non-Solicitation Clause) will not be qualified for the new law; and, (b) Conversely, any employment contract implemented after November 3rd, 2010, with restrictive covenants; in particular, the restrictive covenants referred to as Non-Compete or Non-Solicitation Clauses, will fall under the new law. However, given the discrepancy in the dates, employment contracts may not be carry the power of this law as the date of commencement, or the new law may be held unconstitutional. This grey area in Georgia Contract Law may be of great concern to those workers aspiring to compete with their previous employers. This is particularly true in a densely populated competitive area such as Atlanta.
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As an experienced ATL Business Lawyer and Real Estate Lease Lawyer, I always recommend that my clients have a lawyer review all lease agreements. This is especially true with Georgia commercial leases in Atlanta, which when entered into carelessly can severely limit your success. Without the proper due diligence, your business may suffer if the Georgia commercial lease prevents you from addressing important issues such as signage, parking and physical expansion. This is definitely where spending money to protect your interest is a good idea. Of course, this is my opinion, but I have seen Commercial Landlords become more and more ruthless. The reason? This economy has them losing money and scared, like the rest of us. Therefore, I tender to you the following suggestions:

Keep an eye out for leases that contain the following five pitfalls, and remember to always consult with a qualified real estate contract attorney before signing any lease.

1) Short lease term with a vague renewal clause. It is risky to sign a short lease that gives you no option to renew or that has only vague renewal terms. Lease renewal options give you flexibility and should be clear and concise. The renewal clause should state when you must renew and the percentage that the rent may increase when renewing. Long-term leases are fine for established businesses, but if you are signing a lease for a start-up, then a shorter lease with an option to renew may be ideal.

2) Unfavorable relocation terms. In a relocation clause the landlord states his right to move your business to a different part of the building in order to accommodate another tenant. It is not always possible to avoid this clause, but you can make sure that you have a written agreement that states the terms of the relocation. In the clause you can ensure that the rent will not increase and that the landlord will pay for moving expenses and any required renovations to bring the space up to the same standard as the previous space. It is a good idea to make sure that the clause gives you a minimum of one-month notice if relocation is required.

3) Undefined Fees. All fees to be paid must be stated in the lease agreement. It is not uncommon for landlords to charge fees that were not agreed upon in the lease. In these cases, it is best not to pay these undefined fees. Consult an attorney if the landlord insists.

4) Restrictions that limit growth of your business. All businesses grow and change. Your lease should not restrict you from improving and modifying your space to meet your business needs. This should be negotiated with the commercial landlord and written into the lease before signing.

5) Verbal Agreements. All negotiated terms should be included in the written lease agreement. Verbal or handshake agreements are hard to enforce and can risk your business. Put everything in writing.

Georgia Commercial Leases are generally landlord friendly. Our Firm’s specialty practice areas. From our Atlanta-based Main-Office, Our Atlanta Lease Lawyers handle Georgia Contract Drafting, Negotiating, and Disputes, all over Georgia. Some of the counties and cities include Atlanta, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Forsyth County, Cumming, Cobb County, Marietta, Acworth, Kennesaw, DeKalb County, North Atlanta, Decatur.
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