When planning to open a coworking space, there is no way to avoid red tape and paperwork. Finding a space, choosing and buying furniture, designing your website or planning your marketing strategy, all pretty fun so far. But a coworking space is a business, and running a business means dealing with a little bureaucracy. You'll deal with paperwork related to your licenses, the registration of your brand, your employees or your insurances. Another very important piece of paperwork is the one that regulates your professional relationship with your members: Your coworking service agreement.
You want to have a piece of paper (or a digital file) where you state the terms of the membership (dates, level, price...), any sales agreements made (such as discounts or perks), and the terms and conditions of the membership, the usage of the space, the payment terms, any intellectual property law you want to highlight...
Two types of agreements typically come to mind: The sublease agreement and the service agreement. Our advice, however, is to always go for a service agreement, that is less complicated and also protects you, the space manager, more. A couple of good reasons to illustrate our preference: in a sublease model, you are generally not allowed to make any money from space rental; and you have added obligations and real property interests. This means that you would not be able to terminate an agreement with a member if you needed to, and that you would not be able to make any decisions without your member’s acceptance. This sort of legal agreement would be more suitable for shared offices in which freelancers or companies decide to rent an office space together, but can be a headache for coworkign spaces.
Is coworking a service, though? Coworking spaces offer something more than just space. We do provide a space, but we also offer our members an Internet connection, kitchen areas, access to a network of professionals, workshops, conferences, discounted rates for suppliers, etc. Without doubt, our main business is not just space. Coworking is a full service, and this is why you can get rid of a lot of complications by legally defining your relationship with your coworkers as that of a host/member.
A coworking service agreement is the commercial equivalent of an agreement for accommodation in a hotel. It’s also similar to the membership agreements that are signed in gyms or fitness studios. By selling memberships, you entitle your coworkers to use the space and the resources therein, but the space is not leased at any time and remains solely yours.
We have put together some terms and conditions for your coworking service agreement you can look at as a guideline. To personalize the terms and conditions with your space’s information, you can copy the text to a text editor to add your space's name and edit the terms as you like.