5 Crucial Areas of Commercial Real Estate Law for Colorado Businesses

5 Crucial Areas of Commercial Real Estate Law for Colorado Businesses

Real estate law is a broad and complicated legal area. Colorado is no exception with a tangled mass of statutes on everything from discloser and zoning laws to insurance and contract laws. Whether you lease or own your business location, you will likely encounter a property law issue at some point. Attorney Elizabeth Lewis, MS, JD can help guide you through real estate law at every level before it affects your business. The following post will discuss five crucial areas of commercial real estate law for Colorado businesses.

  • Landlord/Tenant Laws
  • Disclosure Laws
  • Zoning and Land Use Laws
  • Contract Law
  • Insurance Laws

Landlord/Tenant Laws

Whether you own or rent your business space, landlord/tenant laws are designed to protect the rights of both sides who have entered into a rental or leasing agreement. There are numerous areas within these laws, including taxation, right of privacy, payment of rental fees, disclosures, duration of agreements, and right to terminate agreements. As a Colorado business owner, it is essential to comply with state laws in order to prevent violations. It’s a good idea to hire a Colorado-based attorney to advise you on all of your real estate and leasing issues from initial set up to lease/contract review to protecting your assets.

Disclosure Laws

Before you buy or rent a business space, you want to know everything you are getting into. Are there any toxic substances, like asbestos or lead paint? Does the building have energy use restrictions or accessibility inspections? You may have found the perfect location, nestled in the bustling heart of downtown Denver, but it is important to know what you may not readily see. Like other real estate laws, discloser laws vary from state to state and deal with the location, condition, and restrictions of the property. Furthermore, a commercial lease and residential lease differ greatly and are subject to different laws. A small business attorney will review and advise you on existing or potential factors before you are ready to lease or buy a retail space.

Zoning and Land Use Laws

Your real estate choice, whether you operate out of a home office or huge warehouse, will affect your business. Commercial real estate can be divided into several categories, including office buildings, industrial, retail, restaurant, multifamily, undeveloped land, and more. Each of these properties are subject to Colorado state zoning and land use regulations.

Besides determining taxation, these laws define and enforce how a property is used. As a business owner, you already have a checklist a mile long when it comes to choosing your location – rent or buy, physical space, length of lease, affordability, renovations, maintenance, competitors, specifications for signs, accessibility, and much more. Learning that you must apply for rezoning to the local board is not something you want to add your list, and it does not guarantee that your application will be accepted. With the expert advice of an attorney, you can navigate through these real estate laws in order to select the perfect location.

Contract Law

After you have decided whether to buy or rent, reviewed the terms of disclosure, and confirmed zoning, you will enter into a contractual agreement. Specifically worded and structured, these legally binding documents are meant to stand up to any challenges by a landlord, tenant, or outside entity. Many savvy business owners have agreed to the terms of a contract only to fall victim to some unforeseen loophole or unintentional breach that leads to litigation. In this event, an attorney will represent you and help protect your business.

Insurance Laws

Based on the space you occupy and the business you operate, you are required to have certain insurance. This is to protect your investment and cover any property loss or liability issues. The type(s) of insurance you purchase depends on your status as lessor or lessee, the number of employees you have, as well as any building ordinance or state laws. In the unfortunate event of an accident, burglary, fire, or other disaster, additional insurance can help to cover the aftermath of damage to your business. A small business attorney can help you decide what coverage is right for you.

If you are a landlord or a tenant who needs help with Colorado commercial real estate, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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4 Important Things To Do Before Opening a Retail Store

4 Important Things To Do Before Opening a Retail Store

Dreaming of opening your very own boutique, an artisans shop, or even a small franchise? There are a multitude of important considerations before you jump into the vibrant mix of Denver retailers. And, just when you think you have done your due diligence, you may encounter unforeseen obstacles. Whether it is an issue with a contract or agreement, choosing the right business entity, dealing with wholesalers, managing staff, or marketing your product, a small business attorney will help keep you on track. This post will cover four major parts to starting your own small retail business.

  • Product
  • Plan
  • Location
  • Finances

Product

You likely already know what you want to sell before you explore many other important factors. A working knowledge and passion for your intended product are great, but they do not guarantee success. Conducting research in order to gauge the demand for your product and keeping current on sales trends are essential to your potential for profit. The U.S. Census Bureau publishes retail trade reports every five years. These can help you measure the demand for your products.

Also, establishing relationships with product suppliers or wholesalers requires agreements and contracts, which a small business attorney will help you navigate.

Plan

Your product determined, it is time to create a comprehensive business plan. This will include a detailed description of your inventory, target customers, how to meet the needs of target customers, competition, and advantages you have over the competition. You will need to provide details about the organizational structure of your store and design a marketing strategy. Deciding on a business structure (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, etc.) will determine which tax forms you are required to file. An attorney provides tax advice and representation in the event of any audits, penalties, or other tax issues, so you should establish a relationship with a Colorado small business attorney before you file any forms with Colorado or the federal government.

Even with the best laid plans, one bad customer experience shared via social media can close your newly opened doors. A good small business attorney will work with you to develop a solid online marketing strategy as well.

Location

As with your product and plan, you will need to research potential locations for your business. Whether it is best suited for Denver’s creative Art District on Sante Fe, eclectic Union Station, or historic Larimer Square, you will want to select a property that meets your needs and budget. Your research may entail searching public records to see how a location was previously used, analyzing the foot traffic and demographics of the neighborhood, and finding a location that is visible to your customers and consistent with the image you want to project. Your attorney will assist in every aspect of your business formation from finding the ideal location, entering into lease agreements, hiring employees, drafting company documents, and filing the required state and federal paperwork.

Finances

Determining all of the expenses your business may incur when starting out will help you to spend more wisely and begin earning sooner. Plan for rent and operation expenses, such as security deposit, utilities, and staffing. Figure out if you will need to make property improvements and customizations, which are associated with a multitude of costs, including construction, furniture, fixtures, equipment, and office supplies. There are also expenses related to technology and communications (computers, phones, internet, point of sale (POS) terminals, card readers, scanners and printers), inventory, and marketing/advertising. Other required fees come with licenses, permits, taxes, and registration. Beyond borrowing money or obtaining a commercial loan, there are numerous options for small business loans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several of these loan programs for entrepreneurs. Regardless of the type of financing, a small business attorney will review the written agreements and interpret the terms in order to avoid misunderstandings or defaults.

If you are starting a retail store and need an attorney, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

3 Important Tax Rules for Relocating Your Small Business

3 Important Tax Rules for Relocating Your Small Business

There are a lot of questions you want to ask (and probably have an attorney answer) before you relocate your small business from one State to another. This blog will alert you to three important tax rules for relocating your small business:

  1. the six potential F Reorganization requirements
  2. the relocation rules for your specific form of business
  3. the need (or not) to obtain a new Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Understand the Six Requirements for F Reorganization

Warning – the six requirements are not written in plain English and can be a little daunting. Of all the rules you need to understand, making sure you understand the six requirements for an F reorganization and have met the criteria may be the most important. Why? Because in the case of F Reorganization, the “F” stands for free, as in tax free. Your move may subject you to unnecessary tax burdens if it doesn’t meet the six requirements. I am supplying portions of the IRS code describing each of the requirements below – if you don’t enjoy reading legalese, skip these bullets and go on to the next section.

  • Immediately after the Potential F Reorganization, all the stock of the Resulting Corporation must have been distributed (or deemed distributed) in exchange for stock of the Transferor Corporation in the Potential F Reorganization.
  • Subject to certain exceptions, the same person or persons own all the stock of the Transferor Corporation at the beginning of the Potential F Reorganization and all of the stock of the Resulting Corporation at the end of the Potential F Reorganization, in identical proportions.
  • The assets and attributes of the Resulting Corporation [must be limited] immediately before the transaction)
  • The Transferor Corporation [must be liquidated]

The final two requirements are in place to make sure the resulting reorganization qualifies as a “Mere Change” – simply put, your move really is about moving the business and not about a clever means of evading actual tax obligations.

  • Immediately after the Potential F Reorganization, no corporation other than the Resulting Corporation may hold property that was held by the Transferor Corporation immediately before the Potential F Reorganization, if such other corporation would, as a result, succeed to and take into account the items of the transferor corporation described in section 381(c).
  • Immediately after the Potential F Reorganization, the Resulting Corporation may not hold property acquired from a corporation other than the Transferor Corporation if the Resulting Corporation would, as a result, succeed to and take into account the items of such other corporation described in section 381(c).

Know the Rules for Moving Your Particular Business Form

When you are ready to move your business, you need to know the rules for moving your particular business form to a new state – these rules will vary depending on the form your business operates under, and some are more straight forward than others. The SBA gives a good overview of the rules, but advises, as do I, to talk over your move with an attorney, and to understand clearly the steps you will be expected to take as an LLC, Corporation, sole proprietor, or partnership.

It is likely that you chose your form of business for the tax advantages it offers. If you haven’t had an attorney review your current form of business to make sure you are getting the best tax advantage and legal protections, consider doing so before you make your move. Tax law changes over time. Understand what changes you may want to make before moving your business to a new State with a less than optimal business form.

Obtain a New Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Perhaps

This is another one of those cases where the answer on whether or not you need to obtain a new employer identification number (EIN) is, perhaps. Once again, the need to obtain a new EIN is controlled by your form of business. Gratefully, these rules are a little easier to understand, but they are far from crystal clear. For example, the SBA explains that corporations will not be required to obtain a new EIN if “conversion at the state level with business structure remain[s] unchanged.” If you’re not sure what is meant by conversion, you might not realize that you can keep your EIN.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a new EIN after a move, or want want help understanding these 3 important tax rules for relocating your small business, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Lawyer. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

Foreign National Business Formation and the EB-5 Visa Process in Colorado

Foreign National Business Formation and the EB-5 Visa Process in Colorado

Congress, in its quest to keep our economy healthy, looks for ways to invite business owners and entrepreneurs from other countries here, to our shores, to build, manufacture, and employ our citizens. The good news, if you are a foreign national looking for a chance to become a U.S. business owner, is that you don’t have to be a multi-national conglomerate to own a business here in the United States.

USCIS administers the EB-5 program, created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.

The EB-5 program doesn’t restrict visas to large corporations like Toyota and Siemens. Instead, it requires foreign investors invest in a new commercial enterprise or rescue a troubled business where they will continue to employ the existing employees for at least two years.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) describes new commercial enterprise as for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including by not limited to:

  • A sole proprietorship
  • Partnership (whether limited or general)
  • Holding company
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust, or
  • Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned

There are a few catches, but if you can overcome them, you can set up shop in the United States as a foreign national. What seem to be the more challenging requirements? You have to be able to hire or employ 10 qualifying employees, and you need to be able to invest a substantial amount of capital.

A Foreign National Owned Business Must Provide Employment for 10 Qualifying Employees

Keeping in mind that the qualifying employees can be existing employees, as an Eb-5 foreign national owned business you must provide employments for 10 qualifying employees. A qualifying employee is described by USCIS as follows:

A qualifying employee is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States including, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation.

However, “this definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any non-immigrant status (such as an H-1B non-immigrant) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.” Which means your family can of course come with you, but if you hire a friend or family member who is also a foreign national, their job may not count toward the requirement to employ ten qualified people.

EB-5 Capital Investment Requirement

The EB-5capital investment requirement is pretty steep, but you can cut the amount required in half if you are willing to invest in a High Unemployment or Rural Area. The minimum general qualifying investment amount is $1 million, but the investment requirement in a Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area) is on only $500,000.

There are a lot of rules and requirements that extend beyond this surface explanation, but if you are a foreign national who has a business idea or an entrepreneurial skill set that you believe would prosper well in the United States, it is worth your time to talk to an attorney who is familiar with the law and has experience preparing EB-5 visa applications.

Foreign National Business Formation in Colorado

Our state, like many U.S. States, has a Regional Investment center designed to attract Foreign National business formation in Colorado. The Colorado Regional Center describes EB-5 investment as “an alignment of interests” which allow immigrant investors the opportunity to “live, work, attend school, or retire anywhere in the U.S.” Their website lists a host of benefits, including a path to citizenship if that is your ultimate goal.

  • The investor does not have to be sponsored
  • The process for approval is relatively fast compared to other visa programs
  • The investor has more freedom of travel
  • The investor has increased US educational opportunities (including residency benefits for dependent students) and
  • The investor has the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen after five years

The EB-5 visa program is thriving in Colorado, and many areas of the state are welcoming and diverse, making it a popular alternative to more expensive East and West coast investment possibilities. If you are a foreign national with an interest in investing in or operating a business here in the United States, or have questions about foreign national business formation and the EB-5 visa process in Colorado, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at:

3 Things to Know Before Starting an Online Business

3 Things to Know Before Starting an Online Business

It seems simple – no lease to sign, no building to maintain or insure, fewer employees to manage. Online is easy, and starting up a new business is as simple as building a website! Only, it’s not. More often than not, I end up helping small business owners with issues they could have avoided if they had sought advice before starting an online business.

Based on the issues I am most often asked to address after the fact, there are three things I would advise a new online startup to understand before jumping in:

  1. What type of business form is correct for my situation?
  2. What type of control am I giving to my web developer?
  3. How will I terminate an advertising and promotions contract?

The Correct Form for an Online Business

The rules governing your information technology company, information services company, or online business are different than a traditional brick-and-mortar business. There are the typical business formation questions; should you form your business as a corporation or LLC, for example. But it is also important to understand the legal implications of having a brick-and-mortar store with an online presence, or even transitioning your brick-and-mortar store to being solely online. And while it may look more affordable to ditch the brick-and-mortar storefront for a website, your agreement with the company that creates and maintains a website for you is in many ways similar to a lease. Signing a contract with a questionable company can cause you just as much grief as bad landlord.

Controlling Your Online Assets

With the growth of the internet and information technologies, more and more businesses are based completely online. An online business can include online advertising, a social media presence, and online sales of physical products, all of which come with their own set of legal ramifications. Whether your business is an information technology business, IT services business, supplements its income with an online store, or is completely online, you will probably be signing contracts with web development firms who will help you build and maintain your website. It is crucial that you understand what you are agreeing to when you allow someone to build a website for you. I hear stories all the time from developers such as:

I was being asked to build a third website for her, after two previous contractors failed to deliver a finished product, or failed to deliver a quality product. When I attempted to set up her new site, I found the previous developer had moved her domain, which she had owned and had control of for many years. She had given them permission to do so, but she didn’t understand that she was giving up control of her URL when she did. In addition, the company she contracted with to build her previous site had been controlling and filtering her email. She spent days on the phone trying to end the contract and get her domain and email back, and she lost much of her email history, and all of her website content in the process.

Unfortunately, this is a typical and frustrating scenario I hear from newcomers to online businesses. Another stumbling block I see small business owners encounter as they enter the online world involves contracts with companies that offer to help with advertising and promotion.

Promoting Your Online Business

Promoting your online business comes with it’s own set of concerns, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to help you. Some contracts tie you to a service regardless of whether or not it performs well for you – in this case, what you don’t know about social media, advertising, and promoting a business online can really hurt you. Again, a trusted advisor who understands internet technologies, and online business promotion can really help here. Until you have some experience and know what works for you, ask someone who does to recommend a company that can do it for you, or train you to do it yourself.

Even if you are an experienced entrepreneur, you will face challenges as you enter the online world and perhaps encounter unscrupulous actors offering to help you launch an online business. An attorney can help you make sure that important assets, such as your domain name, remain in your control. It is also very important that a clear means for you to retain the contents and coding for your website exists, even if you choose to end the relationship with the contractor or company that builds it for you. These, and other concerns can be avoided just by getting a good referral to a reputable firm. An attorney with a strong background in IT and online business practice can guide you to reputable firms, and make sure the contracts you sign are fair.

If you need guidance concerning the formation of your online business, or help reviewing a contract with a web developer or firm offering to promote your business online, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney

Mailing Address:

501 S. Cherry Street, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80246
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

Online at: