Signage, Part 1: Leased Commercial Office Space

Whether you are about to locate your company in a high-rise tower or a two-story office building, knowing the signage options, requirements and restrictions is critical before signing the lease. A tenant’s ability to secure signage can depend on how much space they’re going to occupy and who the other building tenants are. As with so many other details of a commercial lease, signage often comes down to negotiations.

Why is Signage so Important?

Obviously, having the proper signage outside of a leased commercial office space helps current and prospective customers find your company. The right kind of sign can be a cost-efficient form of advertising, thereby helping to grow your business and your revenue.

What are the Types of Signage?

On office buildings, there are typically three types of signage:

  • Building top
  • Eyebrow
  • Monument

As the name suggests, building top is at or near the top of a building. Depending on the building’s location, building top signage may be visible from quite a distance. A landlord typically reserves this type of signage for a tenant leasing a large portion of the building.

Eyebrow signs are usually located near the main entrance of a building or near the first or second floor. People driving down the street or walking by will readily see an eyebrow sign.

Monument signage consists of a freestanding sign, usually constructed of concrete or brick, which stands at ground level. These are typically located near the drive-up to an office building or near the main entrance.

Why is Signage Restricted?

Landlords may choose to restrict the signage their tenants can use for a number of different reasons.

  1. Space restrictions. Depending on how many tenants occupy the building, a landlord may simply not have enough room to allow every tenant to post a sign.
  2. City restrictions. A city’s zoning laws may regulate signage and prevent a tenant from advertising on a building.
  3. Aesthetic restrictions. Landlords can forbid signs because they simply do not want a building’s façade to look cluttered.

What’s the Best Way to Negotiate Signage?

Not all circumstances require signage negotiations. Some landlords are flexible and recognize the need for a sign on their building.

However, if you do need to negotiate signage with a landlord before you sign a commercial lease, then you might try offering longer lease terms in exchange for the right to post your sign. Depending on your budget, you may also be able to lease a bit more space in order to secure signage.

Whether signage negotiations are necessary or not, you should always show the landlord a visual of what your company’s sign will look like. Include dimensions and where you want to place the sign. In this way, you can ensure that your sign complies with the landlord’s sign program as well as city codes.

Be prepared to pay for all costs connected with your sign such as design, installation, repairs and removal. However, your landlord should cover the cost of removing a sign that belonged to a previous tenant before your sign is installed.


The information contained in this article is general in nature and should not be construed as financial, tax or legal advice.  As with any financial or legal matter, consult your tax advisor and legal counsel.