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A commercial real estate lease is a contractual arrangement between a property owner and a renter that deals with the issue of renting commercial property. It includes details of rent amount, lease period (term), allowable property use, tenant obligations of maintenance, the option of renewing the terms, and conditions for termination. While the basic principles of residential leases and commercial ones are harmonized, the latter target businesses that occupy retail spaces, offices, warehouses, and industrial establishments. They specify financial aspects like rent changes, co-pay, and security fees. Bargaining will be conditioned to reflect both parties' interests, and it will be in accordance with local legislation.

Types of Commercial Real Estate Leases

Some common types include:

  • Gross Lease (Full-Service Lease): In a gross lease, a tenant pays a fixed rental amount to the landlord, and the landlord bears the expenses connected with the operation of the property, which includes property taxes, insurance, repairs, and utilities. Such a lease provides the tenants with certainty with regard to financial obligations as they only know how much they are going to pay for accommodation during the entire term of the lease and have no other additional expenses.
  • Single Net Lease (N Lease): Under a so-called Single Net Lease, an agreement provides that the tenant pays base rent plus property taxes, and the landlord remains responsible for other operating costs such as insurance, maintenance, and utilities.
  • Double Net Lease (NN Lease): In a double net lease, the tenant bears all the expenses for the base rent, property taxes, and insurance while the landlord continues to be responsible for all expenses of maintenance and utilities.
  • Triple Net Lease (NNN Lease): In the case of the triple net lease, the tenant is responsible for paying the base rent as well as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs, such as repairs and utilities. The emphasis of this form of lease falls almost entirely on the operating costs of the tenants. Consequently, it is mainly used for commercial real estate as a field of investment.
  • Modified Gross Lease: A modified gross lease implies a zoning between two types of leases. This structure gives the tenant a fixed base rent and leaves the landlord allocating maintenance fees (property taxes, insurance, and common areas maintenance) as part of their expenses. Nevertheless, the particular matters of what is considered expenses in the rent contract are subject to negotiations between the landlord and the lessee.
  • Percentage Lease: In general, a percentage lease is a contract between a tenant and a retailer where the second one pays a base rent plus an additional equal percentage from his sales exceeding the predetermined threshold. Such a lease regime enables the tenant to allocate their rental costs proportionately to the business outcome for both sides of the equation, and this could lead to some positives.
  • Ground Lease: A ground lease has the landlord as the owner of the land, while the tenant constructs the building on the site but is responsible for their improvements. The last part of the lease agreement is a part where the property owner gets full ownership of the improvements. However, in some cases, it can be the opposite until an agreement is reached.
Lease Type Tenant Responsibilities Landlord Responsibilities
Gross Lease Pays fixed rent Covers operating expenses such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance
Net Lease Varies based on type Varies based on type
Single Net Lease Pays base rent and property taxes Covers insurance, maintenance, and utilities
Double Net Lease Pays base rent, property taxes, and insurance Covers maintenance and utilities
Triple Net Lease Pays base rent, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities None or minimal, depending on lease terms
Modified Gross Lease Pays base rent plus some operating expenses negotiated in the lease Covers remaining operating expenses not included in tenant's responsibilities
Percentage Lease Pays base rent plus a percentage of gross sales exceeding the threshold Typically, the landlord covers property expenses; additional terms vary
Ground Lease Constructs and maintains improvements on leased land Provides land for lease, which may cover certain ground maintenance costs

Considerations for Commercial Real Estate Leases

Here are some key components typically included in a commercial real estate lease:

  • Parties Involved: Discuss the parties to the lease agreement, specifically the landlord (lessor) and the tenant (lessee) involved.
  • Description of Premises: Directly states what the commercial property for lease includes: its address, square footage, and any other available information about the space.
  • Lease Term: It documents the term of the lease and the beginning and termination dates. It may, at the same time, recognize options for renewal or early termination clauses.
  • Rent and Rent Increases: States the amount that the tenant is to pay as rent and on what basis (e.g., monthly, weekly, etc.) they have to pay the rent. Additionally, it might comprise the lease agreement's rent increments.
  • Security Deposit: States the amount of security deposit, which the landlord is entitled to use to cover any damages or failure in the monthly payments by the tenant.
  • Use of Premises: Includes the consent to the commercial use of the leased premises by the tenant and any restrictions or limitations imposed by the landlord.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Indicates the party to be in charge of ensuring that maintenance of common areas and assets such as utilities is done properly.
  • Improvements and Alterations: Acknowledges whether or not the tenant is allowed to make changes or to make adjustments on the premises and whether the approval process is required by the landlord will be also discussed.
  • Insurance and Liability: Summarizes that insurance coverage applies to both sides equally and each of them is responsible for the payout of the claim in case of damage to property or personal injury.
  • Subleasing and Assignment: Stipulates whether the tenant has the authorization to sublease the premises or to assign a lease to another party upon prior consent of the owner.
  • Termination and Default: Establishes the circumstances by which either party can end the lease before time is up and what will be the penalty if one breaches the lease contract.
  • Renewal Options: Emphasis is on the lease extension possibility if the lessee and the lessor are keen to extend the initial lease term.
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Key Terms for Commercial Real Estate Leases

  • Base Rent: A specific amount of money the tenant pays to the landowner in repayment.
  • Operating Expenses (OpEx): Renters are charged maintenance and management fees that they sometimes have to pay directly.
  • Lease Term: The lease period
  • Renewal Option: Provision allowing the tenant to extend the lease past its initial expiry date by a certain notice period.
  • Security Deposit: Rent deposit to help cover any accidental damages or cure defaults.
  • Use Clause: Declares which actions may be taken inside the rented area.

Final Thoughts on Commercial Real Estate Leases

The lease of commercial real estate is the main agreement that regulates the renting of commercial property, where its structurization offers clarity and structure to both landlords and tenants. This is achieved by term definition and provisions that lead to a cooperative and mutually supporting spirit to ensure order and efficient administration of the shared commercial spaces. Property management is an indispensable element of the real estate community. Such leases are the cornerstone of the sector and act as the engines of economic development.

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ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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