09/09/2019 - News

What are the differences between an office lease and a commercial lease?


1. Definition


Office Lease

Commercial Lease

An office lease covers all activities that are not related to business, craftwork or industry, i.e. a commercial activity but which is not a retail business or not accessible to the general public.

The commercial lease concerns the buildings or parts of buildings that are mainly used by the lessee to carry on a business retail, or the activity of a craftsman, directly in contact with the public.

For whom?

Examples: sale to wholesalers only, or by appointment, etc.

Liberal professions subject to the regime of non-commercial benefits: architect, interior designer, doctor, dentist, nurse, director of analysis laboratory, notary, accountant, land surveyor, lawyer, driving school instructor, insurance specialist, graphic designer, urban planner, consulting technician, bailiff, auditor, … but also business partners, consultants and other strategy advisors.

For whom?

Examples: Horeca activities, a bakery, a florist, a grocery store, etc.

Liberal professions that carry out commercial acts: insurance broker, real estate agent, property administrator, …



2. Comparison



Office Lease

Commercial Lease

Legal Status

No special legal status. Common law lease.

Commercial leases are governed by the law of April 30, 1951.


The office lease is governed by the articles 1708 to 1762bis of the Civil Code. However, the provisions of the Civil Code being suppletive, it exists a great contractual freedom.

The common provisions of the Civil Code for the lease of real estate properties (articles 1708 to 1762bis) also apply.


Private or legal person.

The lessee should be subscribed at the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises.


3. Specificity of the commercial lease: duration and renewal


  • Commercial leases have a minimum duration of 9 years, a protective term for the lessee, who can exploit his business with a visibility important in time. The contract can of course provide for a longer period, but it must be signed before a notary. On the other hand, it can never have a shorter duration.


  • Therefore, the lessor cannot terminate the lease before the end of this term. Exceptions are possible, if they have however been explicitly stipulated in the contract. The possibility of terminating the lease at the end of each triennium may thus be provided for in the contract. The lessor may also terminate the lease only to use the building for his own purposes and operate a business. This business can be operated by the owner himself/herself, as well as by his/her spouse, (grand)children, (grand)parents, or those of the spouse as well.


  • The lessee is entitled to 3 lease renewals. After the first term of 9 years, the lessee is still entitled to 3 lease renewals of 9 years. This means that at the end of the 9th year, the lessee can still stay maximum 27 years in the building.



These differences have important consequences for both parties of the contract. The lessee must be aware of his/her rights, but also of his/her obligations when signing the lease, whether it is professional or commercial. This statement is also valid for the owner.

Calling upon the experts of Trevi Corporate allows you to avoid contentious situations between the parties.