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Types of Commercial Leases

There are three basic types of commercial real estate leases which are organized around two rent calculation methods: “net” and “gross.” With a gross lease, a tenant typically pays one lump sum for rent, from which the landlord pays his expenses. The net lease has a smaller base rent, and the tenant pays other expenses. The modified gross lease is a happy marriage between the two.

Gross Lease Lease

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Month to Month Tenancies


In real estate law, a “Periodic Tenancy” has no defined ending date — the “term” keeps rolling over and over. (ex: month-to-month or year-to year). The tenancy continues for successive periods until the tenant gives the landlord notification that he wants to end the tenancy. In other words, if the landlord or tenant do not give the other a sufficient notice, the tenancy repeats (weekly, monthly, etc…) depending on what its initial periodicity. The periodicity might be stated in the lease; otherwise, it generally matches the rent interval.

How do I end a periodic tenancy?

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Elements of a Real Estate Purchase Contract

Well-drafted real estate purchase contracts in California should clearly delineate the terms of the deal – parties, price, escrow, closing date, time for inspections, etc… While it is not required that a real estate attorney look over your contract before closing, it is generally a wise idea. In some cases, the contracts do not contain all the necessary terms, or they contain language more favorable to one party. It may or may not be possible to claim that the contract is unenforceable once both parties have signed.

Indeed, in a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the court clarified that the only elements necessary for enforcing a real estate contract are the seller, the buyer, the price to be paid, the time and manner of payment, and the property to be transferred. If the case goes to court, the court can fill in based on what is usual and customary. The court also noted that if an essential element is reserved for the future agreement of both parties, there is no legal obligation until such future agreement.

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Human Resources: The Basics for a Small Business

The often-murky area of human resources generally consists of laws and regulations, which is probably part of the reason many small businesses often put off dealing with it. Avoidance is not the answer. Steer clear of legal hot water and potential employee claims with by keeping a close eye on these three HR areas.

1. Employee Files

Federal law clearly states that employers must keep three specific files for each employee in your business. These files are:

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4 HR Tips for a New Business to Consider

If you’re starting a small business in California, hats off to you! We encourage and support entrepreneurial, and, after years assisting small businesses handle legal issues, we understand that you may face some challenges and hope this blog post helps to prepare you.4 human resources-related laws to consider

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Trade Secret Theft and Your Small Business

With all the attention in the news about hacked emails, we thought it would be a good time to discuss the reality of hacking at a level many business owners can relate to: the small business.

As we have discussed before, small businesses are at risk of any of the threats a large corporation faces, including identity theft (read more on how to prevent ID theft at your business here). Do you have a plan for preventing and/or responding to an online security breach? Or, equally as important, trade secret theft?

Trade secret theft can bankrupt even the most successful business. What’s more, because a California trade secret plaintiff (such as a former employer suing its former employee) likely must identify its trade secrets with reasonable particularity before commencing discovery, it pays to invest in protecting your IP before it is stolen. Unfortunately, trade secrets are particularly susceptible to theft because of the secret economically valuable information they contain. Those on the inside may find that information too tempting to be leave behind when changing jobs. So how does a small business protect its intellectual property and confidential information from trade secret theft?

In California, obtaining protection is not all that simple. Absent limited exceptions, non-compete agreements are illegal under Business and Professions Code § 16600, meaning that is likely not an option.

So, what can California employers do?

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Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts

A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) is similar to a bypass trust, providing somewhat limited access to income and/or principal for the needs of a surviving spouse. The difference is that a SLAT is funded via gift while the donor is still alive, whereas a bypass trust is funded by bequest when someone passes away.

A SLAT is often used by a married couple who desires to make lifetime gifts to descendants but are hesitant to permanently give away a large portion of their estate and their ability to maintain their current lifestyle.  With a SLAT, one spouse (donor-spouse) makes a gift to an irrevocable trust using the donor-spouse’s gift tax exemption.  More on an irrevocable trust, including its benefits, here. The SLAT then names the non-donor spouse (beneficiary-spouse) as a current beneficiary, allowing the trustee to make distribution of trust funds to the beneficiary-spouse during his or her life.

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Financial Planning for Your Small Business

Starting a new business used to be a costly, time-consuming venture. Thanks to technology, that does no longer has to be the case. Various websites allow you to form your small business online (although we do encourage you to discuss the best corporate structure for your business with an attorney first) and thanks to incubators like Kickstarter, you can easily raise capital outside your circle of friends and family!

Once your business is formed, getting things up and running is also much easier. For example, do-it-yourself website design platforms like SquareSpace allow you to design your own website (a must for any business). Cost-effective cloud-based software programs allow you to manage tasks that once required employees on the payroll, and credit card processing can be run inexpensively on a tablet or a smartphone. Read on for tips on how to get the funds you will need to get your business of the ground.

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5 Tips to Stretch Your Startup Capital

You’re starting a new business. Like many entrepreneurs, you probably need to be conscious about how, where, and when you spend your start up money. You’re not alone. Indeed, of the biggest challenges many new businesses face is ensuring they don’t burn through their startup piggy bank too fast.

How do you avoid burning through your find? To start, self-fund through cash flow as long as you can. If you must raise outside money, try to make each round of capital last at least eighteen months.

Read on for more some strategies…

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When Birth Control Pills Cause Harm

If you watched the news over the last few years, you have probably heard about the oral contraceptive recalls and various birth control manufacturer lawsuits. What makes a birth control pill defective and/or dangerous in the eyes of the law? A dangerous prescription drug is any drug that has the potential to seriously harm its user. A dangerous drug may also be considered a defective drug if it does not provide the intended health benefits. Further, a drug may be considered both dangerous and defective if the sole source of its danger stems from a flaw in its manufacturing process. An experienced product liability can explain in further detail.

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