Jun 25th, 2019, By

Understanding Usable vs. Rentable Square Footage: What's The Difference?

Size matters when it comes to commercial office space. After all, you want to ensure that your team has enough room to comfortably move through their work days but also don't want to end up with tons of empty floor space. Plus, the size will determine how much you pay for your monthly rent. When you're considering the cost of occupying a particular office, it's important to understand that your lease will establish two different sizes: usable and rentable square footage. Understanding what these terms mean is vital to comparing various offices and negotiating a fair deal.


Usable Square Footage Defined

The usable square footage of an office tells you how much space your company will have to occupy. It includes all of the floor space within the walls of the area that you are leasing. This is the number that you'll need to consider when deciding whether or not a particular office is ideally sized for your needs.


Rentable Square Footage Defined

The rentable square footage of an office includes the usable square footage plus a percentage of the floor space of all shared areas in the building. Stairwells, communal restrooms, hallways, lobbies, cafeterias, gyms and even on-site property management offices may be included in this calculation. As lease agreements require tenants to help pay for the cost of maintaining shared areas, it's the rentable square footage, not the usable square footage, that is used to calculate your rent.


Why It Matters

Confusing rentable and usable square footage can lead to problems down the line. Tenants who mistakenly think the rentable square footage refers to their office space will find themselves with much less room in their offices. In addition, the rentable square footage is what ultimately impacts your occupancy costs, so you'll want to pay the most attention to this number during the negotiating process.


Rentable and Usable Square Footage Tips

Break Out Your Measuring Tape. While taking the time to measure an office yourself is time consuming, it's a good idea to do so. To calculate the usable square footage, you'll want to measure the length and width of each room in the office as well as hallways and then add the numbers together. If your calculation differs greatly from the landlord's, request to measure the space together.


Get the Details on Rentable Square Footage. A reputable landlord should be willing to make the equation used to calculate rentable square footage calculation as transparent as possible. You'll want to double check the following.


How was the percentage calculated? Typically, the percentage of the shared spaces that you're responsible for should correspond to the percentage of the building that you will be occupying. Ask for the total square footage numbers and calculate this figure yourself.


What's included in rentable square footage? Ask for a detailed list of everything that's calculated in the rentable square footage. Be on the lookout for things like air shafts. In addition, some landlords may try to extend the measurements outside to include things like gargoyle facade ornaments to add costs.


Hire a Pro if Necessary. If you are questioning the accuracy of your landlord's numbers, consider hiring an architect to conduct the measurements for you. The amount of money that you could save over a long-term lease could more than cover his or her fee.


Here are a few other articles we know you'll enjoy:

How Much Does a Tenant Rep Cost?

5 Tips to Consider When Designing an Office Layout

5 Reasons Technology is Important in Commercial Real Estate


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