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What are My Responsibilities as a Commercial Tenant?

Commercial leases often give the tenants more responsibility for maintenance and upkeep than residential renting agreements. Are you wondering why that is?

Commercial Tenants are Different than Residential Tenants

Commercial leases handle maintenance differently for many reasons:


One reason is that a commercial tenant operating a business out of a building might not want to wait on a landlord if the problem is going to affect their clientele. The tenant can get the issue seen to as immediately as they are able.


Another reason is that the business operating out of the building—such as a restaurant—might affect how often the repairs are made. If the business on a property is a bar, and drunk customers are constantly ruining a wall, then the tenant would see that the wall is patched and repainted because the problem was a direct result of their business’ operation.

Who Controls the Site?

Here’s a common maintenance scenario which landlords often see. You own a building and have commercial tenants running a business out of it. One day in February you get a call from the tenants—the heating is broken. Who is responsible for the repair?

The answer to this situation can be as clear or as muddled as the commercial lease leaves it. Many commercial leases will split responsibility between the tenant and the landlord, stating that the tenant must pay for routine cleanings and checks, but the landlord is responsible for repairing breaks. Some landlords want to be in control of what is being done to the major systems of the property—commonly the HVAC, water and electricity of the building.

The way to prevent ugly disputes in the midst of a needed repair is a clear and detailed commercial lease agreement with a Maintenance and Repair clause. Ensure that your lease states what exactly “maintenance and repair” means, for exactly which systems of the property.

Generally, the landlord will take responsibility for the structure of the building, which includes but is not limited to the roof, exterior walls, and major systems. Tenant should assume duty to keep the interior up and running, as well as grounds appearance. Clear obligations up front will help the commercial agreement be a positive one.

We understand that the relationship between a landlord and a commercial tenant can be a difficult one to maintain, especially in the midst of needed repairs. If you are struggling to navigate the murky waters of repairs with your commercial property, Blue Mountain Realty and Property Management is here to help. Our professionals will keep your building safe and in good condition, and nurture positive relations with the tenants to boot.

Five things to know before leasing to a restaurant

You’re the proud owner of a super commercial space, and you’ve just learned that a restaurant is interested in doing business out of your property. This is great news, and you believe that the type of eatery would be a good fit for the location. Leasing to restaurants can be sticky business, however. Here are five things you should be aware of before agreeing to lease to a food service.

1 You might need to make structural renovations. Most likely any restaurant will require renovations to the space. If the property wasn’t already set up as a restaurant, the space alterations could be extensive.  Be prepared to pay for items which they cannot take with them and aren’t aesthetic, such as outside ventilation, possibly bathroom remodels, stair safety alterations and the like.

2 You might need to offer a year lease first, with long-term options after. Many restaurants fail in the first year. It might be in both yours and the tenants’ best interest to agree to a one year lease at the beginning, with options for longer-term use.

3 You might need to keep a detailed list for exclusivity.  Tenants like to have the exclusivity of being the only type of restaurant in a complex or mall. They will want the exclusivity to be as broad as possible, but make sure you can also lease to another food-serving party if the opportunity arises in a neighboring property. Be sure to keep detailed documentation regarding exclusivity rights and prohibited uses for the space.

4 You might want to watch your clauses. Make sure that you’ve thought through details such as hours that the tenant is allowed to operate their business in the space, trash removal, grease trap installation and maintenance, delivery schedule which won’t block surrounding driveways. All these particulars must be addressed as clearly as possible in the lease to avoid disputes during operation.

5 You might want to specify transfers.  It’s every landlord’s nightmare: they lease to a reputable eatery, which fails, and a nightclub moves into the location. Tenants will want some sort of exit strategy written out in the lease, so be sure to outline exactly what type of transfer is allowed. It is a good idea to ensure that the transfer goes to a business with the same intent of use as the original tenant.

Leasing your commercial space to restaurants can be a delicious situation, but negotiating the agreement and ensuring correct usage can be overwhelming. This is one area where you’ll want a real estate expert on your side, and Blue Mountain Realty and Property Management is happy to help. Call us to discuss property management for your space.

New Colorado Law Makes It Easier to Evict Squatters

Remember the case of Roland Hawkins, the Colorado Springs landlord who came home from vacation to discover squatters living in his rental property? The case made the news because Colorado law required him to go through a full eviction.

Unfortunately, it happens all the time.

For example, Gerry Clark found squatters living in her deceased daughter’s home last year. Clark had to file for a formal eviction and three months passed before the squatters were actually forced to leave. During their unauthorized stay in the house, they caused severe damage to Clark’s belongings and the home itself.

The Good News

The good news is that the new law shortens the process to reclaim a property.

Senate Bill 15 passed this year, which will aid homeowners in evicting squatters. Property owners must still file a complaint with the county court, but SB 15 only gives squatters two days to appear in court to present their case instead of months. If the unlawful occupants fail to appear in court, then the sheriff can be given power to remove them from the property within the next 24 hours.

The Bad News

The bad news is that the law does not make squatting or damage caused by squatters a felony.

SB 15 is a step in the right direction, but this is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some tips to help you keep your residential and commercial properties free of unauthorized occupants:

  • Keep all properties occupied to the best of your ability.
  • Make sure your properties are routinely monitored to check for any suspicious activity.
  • Always ensure that windows and doors are shut and locked when you leave a home or building.
  • Installing fences and security cameras can be deterrents for squatters looking for a place to crash.

Of course, the best deterrent is a professional property manager. Blue Mountain Real Estate and Property Management carefully monitors your commercial or residential properties and keeps unauthorized occupants from entering before they cause problems.

Should You Rent to College Students?

If your residential property is located near a college or university, you may find yourself with a lot of applications from students.

Many landlords are afraid to rent their apartment or house to college-aged young adults, fearing house-wrecking parties or gross lack of care of the property. Should you be concerned?

Students have a fearsome reputation as renters. There is always the possibility that the tenant will want to host a party and things will get out of hand. Renting to young people does carry a slightly higher risk that the property might be neglected. Students might realize that they are on the wrong track and might need to break the lease early.

However, as with all potential tenants, it is best to judge each application on its own merits. Students are not all the same. For example, graduate students tend to be very focused on their studies and are less likely to have time for parties. Older students often have steady jobs. They can be good tenants.

You may recognize other reasons to rent to students.


If you’re worried about a kid’s lack of rental history, sometimes a parent will cosign on the lease. Lastly, you are helping the next generation find their footing in grown up life, and that is a necessary and noble deed.

Here are a few tips for dealing with a tenant of the younger generation.

  • Use electronics whenever possible. Make yourself available through texting and social media. If they need to tell you that something is broken, they will most likely want to text you instead of call or submit a formal report.
  • Make the rules for usage of the property crystal clear. Make sure that every single possible loophole about pets, number of friends staying over, tobacco or marijuana usage, general upkeep and utility payment is closed.
  • Make sure that they know who to contact when a problem occurs. Let them know you are glad that they are there, and they will be more likely to reach out to you at the start of an issue instead of letting problems get out of hand.

Renting to college aged students can make some people feel nervous, but can be a good option. Remember that Blue Mountain Realty is glad to serve as a property manager. We have experts standing by who won’t be afraid to be your liaison with younger tenants, and we’ll keep your property safe and tidy.


How to Avoid Trouble When Renting to Relatives

Mixing personal with business is a set up for souring both pursuits; the real estate field is no exception to overlap in family and enterprise. Renting a property to family can get sticky whether your cousin is running a store out of your commercial space or whether your son is living in your basement.

A good rule of thumb is simple: don’t rent to relatives. In fact, don’t even tell them you have space to rent!

Wouldn’t it be nice if life was that cut-and-dry?

Sometimes people need a break, and you want to help. If a family member wants to use a space that you can provide and you want to rent to them, then you are best off treating them like any other renter.

What to Consider When Renting to Family

Consider their application fairly

If a relative’s application ends up in the pool of potential renters, you cannot deny them simply because they are family. Do your best to consider their written application as objectively as the others. Hiring a property manager who will handle this step for you is a great way of taking your bias out of the equation.

Charge a fair market price

If you do choose to rent a commercial or residential space to family, charge a fair market price. Make certain that your rental price is within a similar range of comparable rental spaces in the area, and be able to prove that the lease is an appropriate value.

You may not have thought about taxes, but charging a lower rental price to someone you know can cause your property to be regarded as a personal residence by the IRS.  You could lose thousands of dollars in business deductions.

Be Consistent with a Written Lease Agreement

An oral agreement and a handshake is not a binding business record. Insist that your tenants sign a detailed, written lease. Not only will a written lease protect you and your property but it also sets clear boundaries and expectations from the beginning of the rental arrangement.

Remember, if your tenants violate the lease, you will need to take action. A property manager can be invaluable when you need someone to enforce an agreement with relatives.

Consider their usage of the property

If the relative is not going to be residing in the residential property full time, the status of the home as a rental property is compromised. Make sure that you have a tax professional help you understand the complexities of rental usage.

Collaborate with a property manager

Hire a property manager to be the liaison between you and your renting relative. This step can preserve the relationship if things go sour with the property or vise-versa. Blue Mountain Real Estate can help you with that!

We manage properties all over Colorado Springs, and we are prepared to handle yours with the same detailed care and professional respect that we give our own families and properties.

Renting to relatives can be sweet or sticky. We are here to make sure things stay on the sweet side.

How to Keep Your Sanity During Peak Rental Season

The air carries a nip and the children are back in school—fall is fast approaching. As the seasons change outside, the rental market will cool as well. Even in cities which have a high demand for living space, the rental market follows trends that hold for most of the nation.

Summer is when most people move. Leases get signed; apartments and houses fill up before school starts. In the fall and winter the demand for rental housing remains low unless your property is connected with ski vacationing. Spring brings a boom in rental searches but not necessarily moves.

Colorado Springs is fortunate to have year round buffers which keep our market slightly more stable than many cities. The military is constantly moving members in and out of the area. Quality universities like UCCS and Colorado College are powerful draws. The natural beauty of the mountains, the plains, and Garden of the Gods are unfading attractive features also. Yet even with the current housing boom, the market will still slow as we head into fall and winter.

We summarized some tips for preparing your rental properties from a Forbes Magazine article and added our perspective.

Plan for Peak Season

You will want to be ready when the season hits, so make a list of all the tasks to complete to stay organized before the big demand begins. It can be chaotic when you’re answering inquiries, showing the space and running application background checks.

If renovations are needed, line up contractors in advance and plan to get those done in between tenants. You’ll have to work fast since people want to move in right away.

Be Careful with Your Listings

Street signs and newspapers might still be effective for some areas, but in most places the internet is where housing is found. List your property online as well as in print, but no matter where you advertise be sure to take care that the language doesn’t violate any laws that apply in your region.

Use Excellent Photos

Nothing slays potential rental interest faster than bad pictures. Make sure your photos are showing the property in the absolute best light and condition. You will need to hire a professional photographer if you don’t have experience with real estate photography.

Adjust the Price

Make certain each season that your rental property is priced appropriately. Before you list the property, you’ll need to carefully research comparable rental properties in the neighborhood and surrounding area. Remember, your potential tenants are shopping around and you’ll want to understand your competition.

Adjust the rental price to make sure you aren’t losing money or missing out on tenants.

Work with a Property Manager

No doubt, these tips sound like a lot of work, and they are! If you aren’t already a real estate expert and you want the most from your property investment, hire a property manager! Blue Mountain Property Management is a team of experts in the Colorado Springs rental market and real estate. We are here to make sure your properties are well cared for and remain occupied year-round, while you enjoy the seasons.

Keep an Eye on Banning Lewis Ranch Properties

The wide, wild stretch of prairie east of Colorado Springs’ Mark Sheffel Road will soon offer a plethora of investment opportunities. Construction in the Banning Lewis Ranch area is well underway, and both the residential and commercial real estate markets will benefit.

You may have heard of Banning Lewis Ranch, but not paid attention since it hasn’t offered investment opportunities until now. The Ranch is a 24,000 acre plot of land which was annexed to Colorado Springs in 1988.

Back then it was miles away from city limits and the original annexation agreement included a rigid, ambitious zoning plan designed to encourage a master community. Development was restricted, so while the land has been available for many years, it was virtually undevelopable.

The status of Banning Lewis Ranch changed in April this year when the city passed a revised annexation agreement. This updated plan brings the requirements for the community up to current city code and allows for flexibility and growth in small parcels as needs arise, making it more accessible to developers and investors alike.

The new agreement creates a lot of potential for the city, especially since Colorado Springs is growing and demand for housing and commercial space is consistent. Growth to the tune of 62,000 residents is projected, and both residential and commercial real estate opportunities are vast.

Blue Mountain Real Estate is keeping an eye on the changes as Banning Lewis Ranch is built, and you should too if the development prospects interest you. We can assist you in finding the right property for your next investment where Colorado Springs is booming. And when your commercial or residential property is ready, we will be here to help you manage it.

How Can You Find Out Which Property Manager is the Best?

Every business is faced with the task of differentiating themselves from their competitors and property managers are no different. We work hard to be the best at what we do and we want people to know instantly that our management company is a cut above the rest.

How can we do this? By earning and maintaining property management certifications.

What is a Certified Residential Property Management Company?

Third party certification can be a useful tool for businesses and consumers alike. For example, you know that if your hair stylist has a cosmetology license, you are likely to get a better haircut.

In a similar manner, you can rely on a Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC) to manage your properties. We know the laws pertaining to property management in your state and have experience in the real world of investment properties.

The National Association of Property Managers (NARPM) awards the CRMC certification to property management companies that apply and pass a rigorous evaluation.

You’ll know that the CRMC certified property manager has paid proper attention to all areas of the business, including customer relations and records maintenance.

You won’t have to worry that your property is being managed by people who don’t understand the legal and regulatory environment.

Few companies are able to earn the CRMC designation, making it very prestigious.

Blue Mountain Real Estate, CRMC

Blue Mountain Real Estate is proud to have earned the CRMC certification. We are members of the National Association of Property Managers and have successfully passed the verification and auditing process they use to certify property managers.

Not only have we earned this certification once, but we are recertified every three years, ensuring that our systems and standards are still state of the art.

NARPM’s website describes NARPM member companies with a CRMC as the “gold standard” for property managers. We strive to uphold that standard by offering you the best property management service available in Colorado Springs. You can rely on us.

Is Office Space in Colorado Springs a Good Investment?

Use of retail space expands as neighborhoods grow, but what about office space? If you build (or buy) it, will they come?

They will, but not all at once.

Quantum Commercial Group’s first quarter Office Market Report for 2018 predicts that the overall trend in Colorado Springs over the next several years will be a steady and slow absorption of new and existing office space. In other words, the occupancy rate will grow at a consistent rate.

According to the report, the office building vacancy rate has been holding steady at about 10% for several quarters, which sounds surprising when you consider the growth of the economy.

This flat trend makes sense, however, if you look at a few factors. For one, Colorado Springs currently has an unemployment rate of only 2.5%. This means that there are fewer available workers than even a few years ago, so it is more difficult to find people to put in the empty offices.

Where did those people go? They may be part of a movement towards more efficient use of space. The trend toward “Collaborative” and “Co-working” work spaces, where small businesses use the same space, has become popular. People who might have rented office space can now find workspace with less investment or commitment.

Technology plays a role as well. More companies are allowing people to work from home because so much of their work is done online. In a related trend, many people who live in Colorado Springs commute to Denver to work. That means that the office markets are not necessarily benefiting from the increase of population to the same extent as the residential and retail markets.

They are still benefiting, however. Despite the more efficient use of office space, the vacancy rate is far less than it was in 2010, even with the completion of large projects that stalled during the Great Recession. Commercial real estate remains a profitable investment, even with changes in the way people work. Commercial tenants are often willing to sign longer leases than residential tenants, providing the owner with a stable source of income for many years.

No matter what happens with the market, your property manager can help you make sense of the trends and make the best decisions for your commercial real estate.



Should You Buy that Cool Old Building?

If you’re looking for commercial real-estate in a rapidly-growing city like Colorado Springs, you may be wondering what your options are. New buildings can be very expensive and existing properties aren’t always what you pictured.

If you can’t find a typical office building, you might consider something less ordinary, like an old school or something else that can be turned into what’s known as an “adaptive reuse development”.

Most cities have some buildings that have been left abandoned. When the needs of a community change, structures that once served a purpose no longer do.  But, with a little creativity, these buildings can be refurbished and transformed for a completely different use.

Repurposing an existing structure for a new purpose is likely to bring you publicity and community approval. Locals love them because they help “add character and charm, enhance neighborhood pride, and foster a strong cultural identity among generational residents of a community.” They are also trendy and unique, which are aspects that can set your new venture apart from the crowd and will attract young people.

Two of the most well-known examples of adaptive reuse developments in Colorado Springs are the Ivywild School and The Lincoln Center. Both of these redevelopment projects are in buildings that were once used as schools but are now home to some of the trendiest spots in Colorado Springs.

The Ivywild School was originally built in 1916 and closed its doors to students in 2009. Not wanting to let such an architectural gem go to waste, the building was adapted and re-opened a few years later. Today, the building is home to several locally owned businesses, such as Bristol Brewery & Pub and a hip coffeeshop & bar which was cleverly named The Principal’s Office.

A building on the other side of downtown has a similar story. After Lincoln Elementary was closed, it became the Lincoln Center, home to Goat Patch Brewing, Cafe Red Point, Building Three Coffee, and Nightingale Bread. A popular local gym, CrossFit SoCo, moved into the school’s renovated gymnasium.

Adaptive reuse developments will no doubt continue to grow in popularity and are an interesting opportunity for commercial real estate investors. However, no matter what your needs are, the important thing is finding something that suits you. Whatever you choose, your property manager can help you make the most of your space!




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