You have become a Yoga teacher. You have developed a following of Yoga students, and now you are prepared to spend your life savings on your dream Yoga studio. Before you sign a lease on your studio, take the time to read the following tips.
Did you ever wonder why small businesses fail within months of opening? Here is some valuable information for any Yoga teacher, who is thinking about signing a Yoga studio lease. It may save you a few thousand dollars and plenty of potential heartache.
The days of hanging a shingle outside your studio, without bureaucracy, are over. Consider the latest fire, building, electrical, and handicapped codes; unless you are a general contactor, you are not familiar with them.
Remember that most landlords do not want to pay for bringing your studio up to code. The landlord does want you to sign on the dotted line, quickly, so you will have a contractual obligation for a lease payment each month.
However, if your space is not up to code, or zoned properly, you could be closed by your town or city before you can say, “Grand Opening.” Here is a small sampling of what standards new Yoga businesses are expected to meet before opening day.
Fire Code will require you to have alarms, extinguishers, exit signs, exit lights, and possibly, sprinklers. The local Fire Marshall will inspect your studio before you teach one Yoga class.
Electrical Code has changed considerably, with all of the appliances that run off electricity. If your amp service is low, you will be required to replace it, with a bigger amp service, and the wiring may also have to be replaced.
Handicapped accessibility can break a business before it starts. Locally, a new business paid out nearly $90,000 for handicapped accessible ramps that are constructed around the circumference of the building. These ramps have been installed for two years, and not one customer has ever used them. The door frames may have to be made wider, the bathrooms may have to be expanded, and you may have to install a handicapped accessible elevator.
Zoning is how your business is classified. A studio is a place of assembly and will not get by, without a new zoning classification, in a former gas station. You will have to meet more safety requirements because it is a place of assembly.
Building Codes require you to have all the necessary permits to have work performed by professional tradesmen, a general contactor, or an architect. The local building inspector has a good grasp of all current codes.
I can hear you saying, “This is not my building and it is not morally my responsibility.” You are correct, but the law does not care, unless the wording of your lease protects you. The wording of the lease usually protects the landlord only. The city or town just wants somebody to bring the studio up to current code. Below are some solutions that will save you a lot of money and problems.
Consult an attorney who specializes in “commercial real estate law.” You need a legal specialist, therefore, avoid a “Jack of all trades.” Compared to what you could pay by bringing a Yoga studio up to code, a competent attorney is worth every penny you spend. Your first consultation is usually free, and you will want to have your studio lease thoroughly reviewed before you sign.
Do your homework on each potential location. Contact the building inspector, or planning board, before signing an agreement. Do not consider an “end around” the local building inspector. If you try, you will be closed, and your studio may never “get off the ground.”
The potential to run into a legal trap, while launching your Yoga studio, is now clearer to see. Most Yoga teachers are very giving, trusting, and ethical people. The above-mentioned “trap” is not ethical, but it is legal.
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