Tenant Improvement Allowance - What All Does it Cover?

January 12, 2023
Lease Management

Have you ever searched for a commercial property intending to find the perfect office space? If this is the case, the new office space will certainly need to be built out in some way for the company to move in. 

Planning ahead for construction and the costs of converting a space are essential regardless of whether the company is looking for commercial, corporate, or industrial real estate.

Although the prospects of the costs involved in construction and basic infrastructure setup can be daunting, tenants enjoy the flexibility of negotiating for a tenant improvement allowance (TIA) to help them reduce the blow of a complete build-out.

But what is a tenant improvement allowance? Here is a comprehensive guide that covers several facets of the term, what it covers, how it's paid and negotiated, and much more.

What is Tenant Improvement Allowance?

In commercial real estate, a tenant improvement allowance (TIA) refers to the funds granted to a tenant by a property owner to assist in paying for the renovations made to the office space, as well as additional expenses occasionally connected with the relocation to a new facility.

The precise amount of this allowance, along with a comprehensive rundown of the many ways it could be utilized, gets negotiated into the lease during the renting process.

The TIA is a monetary value typically calculated on a per-square-foot basis.

For instance, if a property owner is providing ₹300 per square foot on a commercial property that is 3000 square feet in size, this indicates that the owner is willing to compensate the tenant for ₹9,00,000 worth of construction expenses.

Since a TI allowance does not usually need repayment and because it is a reflection of any other deal terms in a lease, including rental rate and term duration, it may serve as a substantial incentive for a tenant to enter into a lease.

Obtaining a tenant improvement allowance is a crucial topic of negotiation if a business intends to undertake renovations to its new corporate space.

What Does a TIA Cover?

In most cases, landlords will agree to let the tenant improvement allowance funds go toward both the hard and the soft costs associated with the project.

Hard costs are the outcome of enhancements that would be left around once the tenant vacates the property, which may be a substantial benefit to the owner. 

Although the landowner may not see as much of a direct return on investment from soft costs such as construction management fees, they are an essential component of the build-out process.

While hard costs are frequently recognized, it is customary for the tenant improvement component of a lease to be where unique soft cost definitions are included.

The following are some examples of hard costs:

  • Paints, primers, and floor coverings
  • HVAC, electric, and plumbing setup
  • Walls and framing
  • Doors, windows, etc.

On the contrary, property owners are unlikely to agree to allow tenants to use their TI to pay for various other expenses peculiar to the tenant's requirements.

The primary reason for this is that the landowner will not obtain any value from funding for the upgrade if the subsequent tenant who occupies the space will not find the enhancement beneficial or attractive or if the improvement can be uninstalled when the tenant moves out.

The following are some instances of these costs:

  • Furniture, fittings, and equipment
  • Electronic accessories and other equipment
  • Data cabling
  • Moving expenditures

How Does a Tenant Improvement Allowance Get Paid? 

In the commercial real estate arena, the tenant typically serves as the project supervisor, and the landlord is responsible for making the required payments for the improvements or renovations with the TIA amount allocated.

Generally, the tenant improvement allowance is granted in the form of reimbursement towards the expenses incurred by the tenant to assist the tenant in completing the essential repairs or upgrades to the space being rented.

This implies that the tenant is responsible for paying for the expenditures with their own money first, while the landowner will reimburse the tenant for those costs at a later date.

Generally, tenants and landlords consent to one of the following three options regarding the payment for the TIA amount:

  • Build-Out Allowance

By means of a build-out allowance, the property owner provides a list of the services they are offering together with the amounts of TIA that would be allocated to each one.

The tenant is liable for selecting the ones required, and the landlord is responsible for carrying out these activities. The TIA will only cover the works that were proposed to the tenant and approved by the tenant.

  • Discounted Rent for a Certain Time

The landowner might provide a rent-free period or a reduced discounted rent for a specific period of months, and the funds saved by the tenant then get utilized to finish the tenant improvements.

  • Turnkey Projects

Through turnkey projects, the tenant provides the landowner with a list of improvements required, along with a projected cost for each item on the list. The landowner then finishes the improvements or renovations on behalf of the tenant.

Therefore, the property owner has many distinctive alternatives to choose from when it comes to paying for tenant upgrades, and the specifics of these options vary from one project to another.

The obligation of completing the tenant renovations within the allotted time frame rests with the landlord. It ensures that the tenant will be able to access the property in accordance with the agreed-upon schedule.

When Do You Negotiate for the Tenant Improvement Allowance?

Even though the tenant receives the TIA upon the completion of the renovation, the allowance amount gets determined during the process of drafting the lease agreement.

Before approaching the property owner for the allowance, the tenant ought to have a good sense of how much the refurbishment is going to cost them financially.

If the landowner is keen to find a tenant for the space, they might be willing to increase the tenant improvement allowance to find someone to lease the space.

How Much Tenant Improvement Allowance Can a Tenant Get?

The exact proportion of the TIA that the tenant is capable of negotiating with the owner is primarily dependent on the nature of the tenant's business, in addition to any other significant matters that need to be resolved among the parties towards the lease transaction.

The landlord can agree to reimburse for only a portion of the total cost of the refurbishment, even though the renter might want to have the entire amount repaid. 

The following are some factors that can affect a renter's ability to get a substantial TIA:

  • Tenant's Creditworthiness

When evaluating the TIA, the following four things are considered:

- Tenant's brand reputation

- The nature of their business

- The length of the lease

- And the tenant's capability to pay rent for the whole term of the lease.

If the landowner is content with the tenant's solid credit score and the sustainability of the business, they would likely provide a bigger tenant improvement allowance; nevertheless, the involved parties can negotiate the final allowance amount. 

In most cases, the TIAs are incremented in direct proportion to the creditworthiness of the tenant. For instance, large banks and certain international retail chains enjoy higher TIAs than other tenants.

  • The Current State of the Commercial Property

The landowner may be obliged to offer a suitable tenant improvement allowance to the tenant in order to secure the tenant's business if the state of the property that the tenant intends to rent is not satisfactory.

In the event that the property in question is an incomplete shell space rather than a recently vacated and completed building, it is also conceivable to contribute a greater amount to TIA.

  • Current Micro Demand and Supply Dynamics in the Real Estate Market

When there is a high demand for a rental property from prospective tenants and a limited amount of available-to-rent real estate assets, the owner might not be willing to provide a significant tenant improvement allowance.

If, on the contrary, there is a greater quantity of space available but a comparatively lesser demand for it, the landlord may be more inclined to offer a bigger TIA.

And, it's possible to negotiate a TIA amount with the landowner even if the initial lease proposal does not include such a provision.

Despite this, the tenant can negotiate a higher TIA by requesting perks like rent-free periods or delaying the commencement of the renting period, etc.

Also, in most cases, the tenant has the opportunity to negotiate for a better TIA if he is willing to commit to a longer lease period.


Although a tenant improvement allowance can be incredibly valuable, tenants should keep in mind that it is not designed to pay the full cost of the improvements.

Since the amount of TI a tenant is capable of securing depends on several factors, it is a good idea to take the time to create a requirements checklist to determine which deal terms should be included in each LOI and lease paperwork.

Establishing these details ahead of time will save time and expense as it will eliminate the need to constantly commute between properties.

LeasO is a cloud-based lease management software that brings Lease accounting, Lease administration and Lease management all under one easy to use interface. With LeasO, you can track, manage, and centralize all your lease data in ONE place while avoiding any manual accounting error. Book a demo to know more.

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