Commercial Leasing – Rentable versus Usable Square Footgage

Updated on September 27, 2023

What is the difference between rentable and usable square feet?

This difference is important to know and understand in the context of negotiating a commercial lease and/or litigating a commercial leasing dispute.   Usable Square Feet is the actual space contained within the walls of the leased premises.  Typically, this is the area that you would visibly identify as the leased space and that the tenant exclusively occupies.  The calculation of the usable square footage does not include areas like lobbies, restrooms, stairwells, elevators, shared hallways and other common areas.

In contrast, rentable square footage is the usable square footage plus a portion of the building’s common area or shared space.   For rentable square footage the commercial landlord assigns a portion of the shared space to the particular tenant’s use.    This is usually based on their percentage occupancy of the commercial space as a whole.  Accordingly, in the commercial leasing context, the landlord calculates the monthly rent based on the rentable square footage, not the usable square footage.

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Both of these concepts work alongside a tenant’s responsibility for common area maintenance expense, which is often based on the tenant’s share of the building as a whole.

At Schorr Law, our commercial leasing attorneys have significant experience negotiating commercial leases as well as litigating commercial leasing disputes.  Contact us today to inquire about a free consultation by phone at (310) 954-1877, by email at [email protected], or by filling out the contact form on this page.