Ask the Experts: Commercial Lease FAQs


Q: In the lease for my new space, it says I'm responsible for all repairs and replacements, including heating, venting and air-conditioning. Is this typical of a commercial lease?

A: It's important to review your lease thoroughly and seek professional guidance from an attorney and/or real estate specialist. (At our facility, we are responsible for the repairs and maintenance you've indicated.) We reached out to Dale Willerton, professional lease consultant for commercial tenants, for his advice. He explained that tenants who have gross leases tend to pay one all-inclusive monthly rent, with the landlord responsible for HVAC repairs. If you have an NNN lease, however (also known as a triple net lease), you're typically responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of HVAC systems.

Most leases, Willerton says, are the second type: triple net. Gross leases are much less common. Your new landlord may offer to handle all HVAC maintenance for you and recoup the cost in common area maintenance (CAM) fees or operating costs. This is the industry norm, but it's negotiable.

Keep in mind that a properly maintained HVAC system has a life span of about 20 years. So if you're signing a five-year lease on a space where the HVAC is 18 years old, you might find yourself having to replace it midterm. And if you leave that space after your five years are up, you've basically gifted your landlord a brand-new HVAC. Willerton recommends you spend a few hundred dollars on an HVAC inspection before you sign a lease—the same way you would have a used car inspected before you bought it.

Kathy Blake is the owner of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. She and Suzanne Blake Gerety are the co-founders of

Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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