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A quick rundown on the differences between net vs gross leases

07/06/2022 by
The Marketing Team
When looking at real estate rental agreements you will probably come across two common kinds of commercial leases: net leases vs gross leases. This Business Kitz article will compare net leases vs gross leases and assist in building your understanding of them. What is A Net Lease? When renting a commercial property the tenant will […]
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When looking at real estate rental agreements you will probably come across two common kinds of commercial leases: net leases vs gross leases. This Business Kitz article will compare net leases vs gross leases and assist in building your understanding of them.

What is A Net Lease?

When renting a commercial property the tenant will pay a base rent (also called net rent) to the landlord for renting the property. A net lease is set apart by the fact that other fixed fees, or outgoing expenses that are part of the main bill, are included in addition to your base rent payment. These fees can include:

  • Land tax; 
  • Council rates;
  • Water rates; 
  • Insurance; 
  • Management fees; and
  • Strata levies.

This means that the tenant is effectively contributing to some or all of the outgoing expenses for the property. Net leases benefit the landlord as the tenants are paying for the outgoing expenses to maintain the property.

What are the Pros and Cons of A Net Lease?

A net lease is a commercial real estate lease structure where the tenant is responsible for not only paying rent but also covering some or all of the property's operating expenses. There are different types of net leases, including single net leases, double net leases, and triple net leases, each with varying degrees of expense responsibilities. Here are the pros and cons of a net lease:

Pros of a Net Lease:

  1. Lower Base Rent: In a net lease, the base rent is typically lower than in a gross lease. This can be advantageous for tenants, as they have more control over their operating expenses and can potentially save money on rent.
  2. Control Over Expenses: Tenants have more control over their operating expenses, allowing them to manage and budget for costs like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. This transparency can be helpful for businesses looking to control their expenses.
  3. Incentive for Efficiency: Tenants may have an incentive to implement cost-saving measures and improve the property's efficiency, as they directly bear the costs of these expenses. This can lead to more efficient use of resources.
  4. Customization: Depending on the type of net lease, tenants may have the flexibility to negotiate the allocation of specific expenses. This customization can help tailor the lease to the tenant's needs.
  5. Long-Term Investment Potential: For investors, net leases can provide a stable and predictable income stream, making them attractive for long-term investments. This stability can be appealing to both landlords and tenants.

Cons of a Net Lease:

  1. Variable Expenses: Net lease tenants face variable operating expenses, which can make budgeting more challenging. Property tax increases, insurance premiums, or unexpected maintenance costs can result in higher expenses.
  2. Financial Risk: Tenants assume more financial risk with net leases, as they are responsible for covering operating expenses, even if they increase significantly. This risk can affect cash flow and profitability.
  3. Limited Control Over Property: While tenants have control over certain expenses, they may have less control over property management decisions, such as maintenance and repairs, which could impact the property's condition and functionality.
  4. Complexity: Net leases can be more complex than gross leases, as they involve negotiating the allocation of various operating expenses. This complexity may require legal and financial expertise.
  5. Potential for Disputes: Disputes can arise between landlords and tenants over expense calculations, property improvements, or maintenance responsibilities, potentially leading to legal issues.
  6. Less Predictable Costs: The variability in operating expenses makes it harder for tenants to predict their total occupancy costs accurately. This unpredictability can affect financial planning.

What is a Gross Lease? 

Unlike a net lease, the gross lease doesn’t obligate the tenant to contribute to the outgoing expenses for the property. This means that tenants only contribute through the base rent payments or any incidental charges that they incur.

The key difference between the net lease and gross lease is the expenses that landlords pass onto the tenant. Unlike outgoing expenses, incidental charges are expenses that the tenant incurs in addition to the base rent for using the property.

For example, if a tenant requests more forms of utilities or services, they would incur these expenses in their gross rent. Gross rent is especially helpful for businesses who want to budget their expenses to reduce variable costs and maximise profit. 

Using the previous example, if your business would like to utilise more cleaning services in your office space, your landlord may accept that request and add on the incidental cleaning expenses to your base rent, as one gross lease payment. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Gross Lease

A gross lease is a type of commercial lease agreement where the tenant pays a fixed rent amount, and the landlord is responsible for covering most or all of the operating expenses associated with the property. While gross leases have their advantages, they also come with certain drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of a gross lease:

Pros of a Gross Lease:

  1. Predictable Expenses: Tenants benefit from predictable monthly rent payments, as they don't have to worry about fluctuating operating expenses like property taxes, insurance, or maintenance costs. This stability can help with budgeting.
  2. Simplicity: Gross leases are straightforward and easy to understand. Tenants don't need to calculate or budget for additional expenses, making it easier to manage their finances.
  3. Lower Risk: Tenants are shielded from unexpected increases in operating costs, such as rising property taxes or maintenance expenses. This reduces financial risk for the tenant.
  4. Landlord Responsibility: The landlord is responsible for managing and maintaining the property, which can save the tenant time and effort. They handle repairs, maintenance, and property-related issues.
  5. Appealing to Small Businesses: Gross leases are often favored by small businesses or startups with limited financial resources. They can focus on their core operations without the burden of managing property expenses.

Cons of a Gross Lease:

  1. Higher Base Rent: To account for the landlord covering operating expenses, gross lease rent rates are typically higher than those in a net lease. This means tenants may pay more upfront.
  2. Limited Control: Tenants have less control over property management decisions, as the landlord handles maintenance and repairs. If the landlord is slow to respond or doesn't adequately address issues, it can be frustrating for the tenant.
  3. Incentive for Landlord to Cut Costs: Some landlords may be incentivized to cut corners on maintenance or property improvements to reduce their own expenses, which can negatively impact the quality of the property.
  4. No Financial Benefit from Efficiency: Tenants don't benefit from cost-saving measures or increased property efficiency since they don't directly pay for operating expenses. In contrast, net leases may provide tenants with a portion of such savings.
  5. Not Suitable for All Businesses: Gross leases may not be ideal for larger businesses or those with specific property needs. Businesses that require specialized build-outs or have unique space requirements may prefer a net lease for greater control.

Legal Advice

A net lease differs from a gross lease due to the expenses that are passed on to the tenant, in addition to their base rent payments. Net leases include outgoing expenses that maintain the property, such as taxes, insurance, and management fees, whereas, gross lease can include incidental expenses, such as utilities and services, which are dependent on the agreement. If you need any assistance with net or gross leases, our Business Kitz business specialists and sister company Legal Kitz can both help. Book a FREE consultation now!

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