Tag Archive for 'net-net lease'

Commercial real estate leasing: Part II

This is the second of a two-part series on leasing commercial real estate for your small business. Last time we talked about how to start the due diligence process of narrowing your search down to two or three options. Let’s wrap this up by focusing on the final steps.

In the first stage, you built a comparables spreadsheet and started populating it with basic information for each property, like square footage, base rent, notes, etc. Now we’re going to finalize the expense picture by identifying who pays for what.

There are three classic lease structures: net, net-net and triple net. But the leases you’ve been reading won’t actually say “net lease.” The type is determined primarily by how expenses are allocated.

  • A net lease means the tenant pays the base rent and possibly some or all of the utilities. This is the simplest and most common lease, and the easiest to evaluate. Be sure to ask how much to expect incremental expenses to be, so you can build that into your comparison.
  • A net-net lease has the same elements as the net lease, plus the tenant will typically have some maintenance and replacement expenses, as when an air conditioning compressor goes out. Like the net lease, estimate what these extra expenses will be for comparison and budget purposes.
  • A triple net lease means the landlord is merely making the building available, and all expenses associated with that availability are obligations of the tenant. This includes insurance and property taxes, plus all maintenance and replacement. These are long-term leases, such as 20 years.

Of the different properties you find that work for you, it’s likely that one will be offered as a net lease and another as a net-net. The net lease base rent will be higher, because maintenance, etc., is not included in the net-net lease base rate. This is where your spreadsheet pays off, because it reveals the total annual lease expenses for each property, regardless of the lease structure.

Every property has maintenance, grounds keeping, utilities, insurance and taxes that someone has to pay for. So don’t sign a lease until what you’re responsible for is spelled out, in plain English, in the lease. Also spell out who is responsible for getting the work done.

Just like in the 1st grade, when negotiating a commercial lease, there are no dumb questions. And let your attorney look at the lease before you sign.

Don’t sign a commercial lease until you know the total annual expense. Good luck.

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