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Breakdown: Usable vs. Rentable Square Footage

Breakdown: Usable vs. Rentable Square Footage

You pay for what you get. Well, kinda. Commercial spaces almost always have both usable and rentable square footage and fyi, you’re paying for both. With that said, what exactly is the difference? Many prospective tenants find it difficult to define these two terms and have a disconnect with what they are actually paying for. Don’t worry, we will break down both terms below and get you ready to start your search like a pro.

Usable Square Footage

Oddly enough, the usable square footage is the space that is understood as the type of space tenants are paying for and using. It is a part of space that becomes your individual companies domain. It encompasses the space that is in your actual office and uniquely reserved for you and your business. Most decisions regarding scalability and occupation accommodations are derived from this square footage because it speaks to the size of your actual office.

Rentable Square Footage

Building amenities like gyms, shared restrooms and cafeterias to name a few are all shared spaces. These spaces are used by all building tenants and referred to as “common areas”. All of this space is added to your usable square footage to determine the rentable square footage and ultimately, your total rent cost. These common areas are factored into your lease to account for the costs of upkeep and general maintenance.

How do they calculate rentable square footage?

Each landlord has the freedom to determine how they want to account for rentable square footage. There is a “Common area factor” determined by the landlord that is used as a percentage of their usable square footage and then added to the usable. For example, if you had a usable office with 10,000 square feet and a common area factor of 15% your rentable square footage would be 11,500 square feet.

Be aware of the difference between these two terms on your lease. Understanding the difference between usable and rentable square footage can help you decide between two seemingly similar properties and give you peace of mind that you are not paying for unwanted amenities. 


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