The SBA HUBZone Office has recently put out some new rules regarding shared office spaces. While these new rules may seem stricter, it is actually good that they have put the policy in writing so that it is clear on what will qualify for your principal office and what will not. For companies looking to lease a new space or apply to the HUBZone program, please follow the guidelines below and share this with your landlord so that your lease can include all required information. This new policy should be posted to the SBA’s website soon.
The signed lease must meet the following requirements:
- The lease must include start and end dates. For initial applications, the start date must be at least 30 days prior to the date of application submission and the end date must be at least 90 days after the date of application submission. If a firm is on a month-to-month lease, a firm must be able to prove their lease is still active at the time of certification. For annual recertification, the start date must be at least 30 days prior to the firm’s certification anniversary date and the end date must be at least 30 days after the firm’s certification anniversary date.
- The lease must indicate that the firm has dedicated space within the shared facility. Office space will be considered “dedicated space” if it: is not shared with other firms; is only accessible to the applicant/recertifying firm; is accessible through a lockable door; and is available to the firm without limitations during regular business hours.
- The lease must indicate that the firm has leased enough dedicated space within the shared facility (i.e., sufficient square footage) and the dedicated space contains sufficient work surface area and equipment space (e.g., desks and chairs) to accommodate the number of employees claimed to work from this location. If the lease does not describe the square footage of the dedicated space, the firm must obtain a statement from the property manager (or other authorized representative of the lessor of the shared working space) that: provides the square footage of the dedicated space leased to the firm; and confirms that the dedicated space leased by the applicant/recertifying firm is not shared with other firms, is only accessible to the applicant/recertifying firm, is only accessible through a lockable door, and is available to the applicant/recertifying firm without limitations during regular business hours. Shared office spaces that do not include both dedicated space and sufficient workspace will not be considered to meet the principal office requirement.
- For leases that include utilities, the firm must also provide proof of rental payment in the form of canceled checks (front and back), bank statements, and/or proof of credit card transactions covering the relevant time period.
- Firms may be asked to provide photos and/or a live virtual walk-through of their dedicated space and of the entire shared working space.
If you would like to know if you qualify for the Hubzone Program, please take our online HUBZone Eligibility Questionnaire.