Many business owners have a habit of getting caught up in the “art” of their businesses and putting to the side the often unpleasant legal and business affairs. Tattoo parlors are no exception, for the owners are true “artists”, and “artists” sometimes forget that if the business is to take care of them, they must take care of the business.
Very few of us are fortunate enough to own our own buildings. Most tattoo shop owners rent their space from landlords. Renting a business location carries with it very significant concerns.
You must pay attention to the details and know what you are getting into so that you can run your business as a profitable enterprise. When renting space for your tattoo parlor, pay attention to the following:
Just because the landlord may allow you to sign the lease does not mean that you can legally operate your business there. This may be even more of an issue for parlors that do piercings.
Confirm for yourself what the taxes are and verify that there are no increases on the horizon. You are in business to make money. If you cannot get a handle on what your operating costs will be before you open for business, you are doomed to uncertainty and all the perils associated with not knowing what your business operating expenses are.
These fees are called “common charges” or “common area maintenance”. They cover snowplowing, cleaning parking lots, lighting for common areas, security, and the like. (This is typical in strip malls and shopping centers).
Just as taxes must be verified, so too must common charges. Get copies of all bills for your space from the past several years to see how the landlord bills, what he bills for and what you can expect your expenses to be. Also, see if the landlord will cap increases on common charges at the same rate that your rent will be increasing (i. e. , if rent increases 3%/year, then common charges should be capped at that rate too).
You would not want to open for business only to find out that the landlord just rented the adjacent space to another tattoo parlor!
The moral of the story is that, just as with your artwork, it’s the details that count. Protect yourself and your tattoo business: Work with a qualified broker and real estate attorney, both of whom should know your business, its needs and what your goals are, so that you can focus on inking your customers.
C. Lance Margolin, Esq. is an attorney practicing real estate and corporate law in Syosset, NY. He is also Senior Vice-President and Counsel of Biker Skin Care Products , a company that distributes specialized tattoo aftercare product lines and skin care products. This article is part of a continuing series to offer general legal advise to owners of tattoo parlors. It is only general advise and should not be construed as specific advise for any one person or company. Please check with your own attorney for legal advise specific to your needs.