If you’re careful when choosing a broker and spell out your agreement in a contract, you’ll reduce the chances of disputes later—but there’s no guarantee that all will be smooth sailing. The secret, of course, is spotting problems (and dealing with them) early. This section lists some common signs of trouble and possible solutions—the most extreme being to fire your broker.
Take action if you encounter any of the following difficulties with your broker:
Start by talking directly with your broker. A face-to-face airing of your grievances may be all you need to get things back on the right track. Sometimes, however, depending on the nature of the problem, you need to consider more drastic action, such as complaining to the broker’s boss, if there is one; filing a grievance with the local real estate board—or even with the state real estate licensing authorities (find yours on your state’s home page, available at www.firstgov.gov ); or agreeing with the broker to arbitrate or mediate your dispute (the local real estate board may have a procedure in place to handle disagreements).
If communications have totally stalled or broken down, or your best efforts to improve your broker’s performance yield no results, it may be time to end the relationship. Depending on the situation, your broker (or his or her boss) may voluntarily agree to terminate your contract. If not, you’ll want to make sure that you have legal grounds for firing the broker. These include:
Consult with an experienced real estate lawyer before you terminate your contract with your broker. Firing a broker when you don’t have a valid legal reason to do so can have serious consequences. For example, if you dismiss your broker improperly but go on to sign a lease on your own or with another broker, you may be liable for the first broker’s commission or you may owe other fees under your contract. A precipitous or unwise decision could come back to haunt you in the form of legal hassles and commission expenses.
This article was excerpted from Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business by Janet Portman.