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Terms Of Triple Net Leases

Sep 5, 2007
There are many different terms floating around that describe triple net leases for sale. Some of these are NNN leases, true net lease, triple N leases, net net net leases or even the "hell or high water" lease. For the sake of continuity, this article will refer to them as triple net leases throughout.

Most definitions agree that triple net leases for sale is one in which the lessee pays rent to the lessor, as well as all taxes, insurance, and maintenance expenses that arise from the use of the property. For the most part, businesses like fast food restaurants, chains and national retailers are most apt to use a triple net lease. At a typical busy intersection a person can look around and see many recognizable names that use triple net leases, such as Wal Mart, Wendy's, Home Depot, Office Max, etc.

Like with any type of leasing contract between an owner and a tenant, triple net leases for sale lays out who is responsible for what as far as paying the bills. In this type of lease the obligations will always lie heavily on the side of the renter, as the above definition states. Although this may seem an unfair advantage for the owner, the terms of the triple net lease have pluses and minuses that lie with both the landlord and the lessee. Let's look at a few of these for each side.

Advantages/Disadvantages for the owner:

-Since the lessee is responsible for taxes, any property tax increase on the property is going to be at the expense of the renter. The landlord may not feel it is worth his time to lobby against a pending tax increase because he will not be responsible for paying it. On the other hand, if a tax increase goes through and the tenant moves out, it may be very difficult to find a new renter if the taxes are prohibitive.

-Another advantage for the landlord is that the lessee is the responsible party for acquiring property insurance and keeping up with the payments. This is all well and good as long as the insurance is a reputable and complete coverage and the person making the payments is not experiencing any unforeseen financial problems.

On the downside, if a tenant is undergoing money difficulties, it is not unheard of for them to inflict willful damage to the property in order to collect the insurance money. To counteract this, some owners will stipulate that a reserve fund, or bond will figure in as part of the triple net lease agreement. This is an amount that the tenant will regularly pay into an account that will accrue over time and be used in case of financial difficulties or bankruptcy.

-A very attractive advantage of the triple net lease for the landlord is the fact that a building can generate a high level of income with very little input or effort. Since the tenants are responsible for the maintenance of their leases, they are usually very agreeable with keeping things in good condition and even making improvements at their own expense.

Advantages/Disadvantages for the Tenant:

-With triple net leases for sale, a tenant can enjoy many of the upsides of ownership such as control over the property that does not involve the large capital outlay that goes along with actually buying a new office or building.

-A triple net lease is usually written for a term of at least fifteen years and could be as much as fifty years. This benefits the lessee in that during this time the money paid as rent will see very little, if any increase over the length of the contract. This can be a great advantage of "rent control" in a time that typically sees rent increases occurring yearly with gross leasing contracts.

-A renter can initially, during the contract negotiation stage, bargain for a cap to be put in on how high property taxes can raise. After a certain agreed upon amount is reached, the landlord becomes responsible for covering any amount over the cap limit. Lessees can also try and negotiate similar limits to be set on insurance premiums and maintenance/upkeep costs.

In reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of the triple net lease, one thing stands very clear - it is of paramount importance that the terms of the contract be made very clear to both parties. The contract should be thoroughly read by both the landlord and lessee before finalizing. It is always also a good idea to seek out and consult a lawyer who deals primarily with real estate issues to help get things finalized to the satisfaction of both parties.
About the Author
The Johnson Development Corp. is a Houston-based residential and commercial land development company that has over 40 years of experience in the real estate development business. For more information visit http://www.johnsondevelopment.com
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