The Professional Advisory

  1. Is it Time to Move?
  2. Staging A Dental Practice
  3. The High Cost of Dying
  4. Deal-Busters
  5. Patients - Attract and Retain
  6. Should I Stay or Should I Go?
  7. Is There a Buyer for Every Practice?
  8. Good, Better, Best - The Market has Spoken
  9. Smooth-Sale-ing
  10. Buying Time
  11. Patients, Patience, Patients
  12. A Real Patient
  13. Why Do a Practice Valuation? I'm not Selling
  14. Irrational Exuberance or The New Normal?
  15. Do dental equipment and dental technology affect a practice value?
  16. Finding and Being a Mentor
  17. Bigger is Better
  18. Dave's Top Ten List for Buyers (Vendors should read this too!)
  19. How Well Do You Know Your Practice?
  20. Dave's Top Ten List for Vendors
  21. What will happen to dental practice Values in the next 10 years?
  22. Your Premises Lease is an Important Asset
  23. What are Associates Thinking?
  24. There is Life Outside the GTA
  25. When Is the Right Time to Sell My Dental Practice?
  26. Mergers are a Viable Option
  27. Is Your Associate an Asset or a Liability?
  28. Has your Practice Facility Kept Up With Your Billings?
  29. The 100 per cent of Gross Myth
  30. The Past, The Present and The Future
  31. Caveat Emptor
  32. Overpaid Long Term Staff
  33. Selling your Practice in Stages
  34. A Potential Pitfall of Selling Shares
  35. Value in Your Practice Through Balance
  36. Only Trusted Staff Can Defraud You
  37. To Own or Not to Own Practice Real Estate? That is the Question.
  38. Coping With A Large Patient Base
  39. Successful Dental Practice Transitions
  40. Taking Care of Business
  41. The Investing Dentist Phenomenon
  42. Two areas to focus upon that could negatively impact the value of your practice
  43. Organize your Debt in Order to Sell your Practice
  44. Having a Better Team
  45. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale
  46. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 3
  47. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 2
  48. How Do I Prepare My Practice For Sale? Part 1
  49. Advice to My Son or Daughter Graduating from Dental School
  50. Transition - What to Expect
  51. Discussion on Digital X-Rays
  52. Partnerships and Shotguns
  53. Strategic Planning - How to Get Started
  54. Calling All Vendors - Practices have Gone Up in Value
  55. Purchasers: Expect to Pay More for a Practice because of Lower Professional Corporation Tax Rates
  56. Matrimonial Practice Valuations
  57. Purchaser's Guide to Affording a Practice
  58. Location Improvements Throughout Your Career
  59. Small Practice Valuations
  60. Partnerships – The Best and The Worst
  61. Changing Location When the Opportunity Comes Along
  62. Visual Presentation of Your Practice
  63. Presentation of Charts
  64. Your Premises Lease Can Be Your Worst Enemy
  65. How to Select an Appraiser for Your Practice
  66. How Are Your Billing Ratios?
  67. It Pays to Invest in Your Tangible Assets
  68. The Importance of Separate Financial Statements
  69. Five Time Frame Levels to Sell a Practice
  70. 12 Suggestions to Safeguard Computer Data
  71. How to Buy a Visible Practice
  72. Why is there a shortage of good practices today?
  73. The Importance of Equipment in the Purchase of a Practice
  74. The Balanced Practice
  75. Will My Practice Be Saleable in The Future?
  76. Buyer Be Aware
  77. Excess Profit - The Second Key
  78. Patients and Profits are the Keys
  79. Plan Ahead

Volume 58: Your Premises Lease is an Important Asset

Download the PDF version now!

As we go about valuing and brokering dental practices we come across all kinds of situations relating to the premises that dentists choose to occupy to practice their profession. There is everything from one lonely room in the back of a medical clinic to the dentist that owns the biggest building in town. Most dentists however have a lease for their space and this lease is a very important, and often an overlooked, asset of the practice.  This article is not about how to enter into a lease or how to renew a lease. There are experts in that field (one of the best writes in this publication) and I would strongly encourage you to use the services of an expert at that stage. What I want to cover is why a premises lease is so important from a practice value perspective.

Regular readers of The Professional Advisory will remember that “Patients and Profit” are the two biggest contributors to dental practice value. This is because the purchaser of the practice wants to be able to seamlessly pick up where the vendor left off and needs patients and profit to do that. The purchaser also requires a place to see those patients, and the best chance for a smooth transition is at the same place that the patients are used to. This means the premises lease needs to either be assigned to the purchaser or the purchaser will need to negotiate a new premises lease. Therefore, your landlord now plays a critical role in enabling you to sell you practice. Do you know your landlord? Do you have a good relationship with your landlord? If not, you should as you will need it one day.

In the current market, buyers usually extend the financing for the purchase of a dental practice to ten years. The banks are generally comfortable with this term on the condition that the premises lease (including options) is of an equal or greater term. This is where the fun begins. Most dentists enter five plus five year leases. Therefore after one year of your current lease you only have nine years left meaning anyone who wants to buy your practice not only has to get your present lease assigned, they also have to extend the term. A simple assignment is not usually a problem, as most leases contain a clause that states “the tenant has the right to assign the lease with the landlords’ consent, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld”. Nowhere does it say however that they have to be reasonable with an extension.

Landlords are in the business of making money and speculating on real estate. While they structure their businesses to produce profit as they collect each monthly rent cheque from their tenants, they also look at the longer term capital appreciation of their underlying asset (your space) and they want to make sure it is being utilized to its highest and best use. The longer they agree to let you have access to the space, the less flexibility they have on what they can do with their asset. When a commercial property is newer, this is not usually a concern, but any property over 20 years old may be able to produce more income if it was demolished and rebuilt as something else.  An example of this occurred recently with a dentist who renewed his lease for the third or fourth time. This time the landlord changed one word in the lease that nobody noticed until it was almost too late. We had listed the practice for sale and that one word almost caused the whole practice sale to fall apart. The word “the” was changed to the word “this” in a clause relating to the option of the landlord to demolish the building by giving the tenant one year’s written notice. In the previous lease the demolition clause was referring to “the” option period in the future. In the renewal the demolition clause referred to “this” option period. Therefore, much to the vendor’s dismay there was a current demolition clause in the active term of their lease. Fortunately, both purchaser and vendor had retained talented dental lawyers who were able to favourable renegotiate the lease with the landlord on terms that were acceptable to the purchaser and the deal closed. That was a good outcome that was very stressful and could have been avoided completely with a good understanding of the language in the lease.

Whether you are thinking of selling your practice or not, I would highly recommend that you become familiar with your lease. I understand it is a big unruly document. If you prefer, you can have a lease broker or lawyer review it for you and advise you if there are any shortcomings that you should try to correct in the next renewal. It is a very important contributor to the value of your practice. An unfavourable lease or an un-cooperative or greedy landlord can cause the sale of your practice to be stalled or in the worst case fall apart all together.

David Lind is a Principal in Professional Practice Sales Ltd. (, which specializes in the valuation and sale of dental practices.  He can be reached at (905) 472-6000 or 1-888-777-8825 or e-mail at: