What Is a Work Letter?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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A work letter is a legal document enumerating the specifics of any interior work to be done on a commercial space to prepare it for use by the tenant. Some landlords provide commercial leases as is, and the tenant will need to make any needed improvements. More commonly, the landlord agrees to make some modifications to the space for it to be usable, and the work letter provides information about the modifications the landlord and tenant agree upon. In the event of a dispute, the document shows what each party expected and should have received.

In the work letter, the landlord can specify the nature of the work to be done, and may discuss who will plan the work and perform it to make sure that all parties understand how the work will progress. The work letter can set out specifications such as requiring the use of environmentally friendly materials or meeting specific aspects of the building code. It also discusses budgeting, costs, and which party is responsible for which expenses.


Sometimes the work letter is part of the lease. It acts as an attachment and is negotiated at the same time as the rest of the lease agreement. In other instances, it is a separate legal document. This may occur when a tenant requests modifications in a space she already occupies, for example. Like other legal documents, it establishes rights and responsibilities and must bear valid signatures from all parties involved or their authorized representatives in order to be valid.

It is possible to use legal document software to generate a work letter, or to rely on generic templates with basic information already filled in. An attorney can also formulate a new work letter in response to the specific needs of the project. He will review all the information and draft a fresh document with all the appropriate clauses. This is advisable when work is complex or expensive, or when the arrangement between landlord and tenant is at all unusual.

All parties should review the work letter with care before signing. If there are any concerns about the content, it is important to bring them up as soon as possible. Any necessary modifications must be made before signing. In situations where the parties cannot reach an agreement, it may help to bring in an outside party such as a mediator to determine if it is possible to resolve the situation amicably.


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