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Single Net Leases: Definition, Examples, and Strategic Insights

Last updated 11/24/2023 by

Silas Bamigbola

Edited by

Fact checked by

Summary:
A single net lease is a commercial real estate agreement where the tenant takes on the responsibility of paying property taxes in addition to rent. This form of a net lease is less common, with the landlord still handling other operating expenses. Explore the nuances of single net leases, how they differ from other lease types, and the considerations for landlords and tenants.

Understanding single net leases

Single net leases, a subset of net leases, transfer specific operating costs from the landlord to the tenant. In this arrangement, the tenant typically covers property taxes, while the landlord retains responsibility for other operational expenses. It’s essential to distinguish single net leases from other net lease variations.

Single net leases vs. other lease types

Net leases stand in contrast to gross leases where the tenant pays a fixed rent amount, and the landlord covers all property-related costs. While most non-commercial property agreements are gross leases, net leases come in various forms. A single net lease specifically involves the tenant assuming one significant operating expense—the property taxes.
Comparatively, double net leases have tenants responsible for two major expense categories, and triple net leases extend the responsibility to cover all three—taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

Pros and cons of single net leases

Weigh the risks and benefits
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
Pros
  • Tenants pay property taxes, relieving landlords of this financial burden.
  • Potential for lower rent since tenants assume a specific expense.
  • Landlords may have fewer responsibilities, making it a passive investment.
Cons
  • Landlords retain responsibility for other operating expenses.
  • From a tenant perspective, taking on property taxes may increase overall costs.
  • Less common, potentially limiting options for tenants seeking this arrangement.

Special considerations for landlords

Landlords evaluating single net leases must weigh the advantages and disadvantages. From a passive investment standpoint, some landlords prefer triple net leases to avoid day-to-day property management. However, tenants may be reluctant to bear the entire financial burden, leading to compromises with double or single net leases.
Furthermore, in addition to transferring cost responsibilities, landlords employing single net leases shift negotiation and lobbying efforts on commercial property tax rates to tenants. This can be particularly advantageous for absentee property owners with diverse portfolios.
In practice, while a single net lease requires more landlord involvement compared to a triple net lease, it still offers advantages over a gross lease in terms of property owner burden.

Examples of single net leases in action

Examining real-world scenarios can provide a clearer understanding of how single net leases function. Let’s explore a couple of examples:

Example 1: Retail space lease

In a retail space lease, the tenant may enter into a single net lease where they agree to cover property taxes on top of their regular rent. This arrangement allows the landlord to transfer the responsibility of tax payments to the tenant while retaining control over other operational costs such as maintenance and insurance.

Example 2: Office building lease

Consider an office building lease where the tenant takes on the obligation of paying property taxes as part of a single net lease. This arrangement can be attractive to landlords looking to streamline their financial responsibilities and allocate specific costs to tenants, creating a more predictable revenue stream.

Factors influencing the popularity of single net leases

Several factors contribute to the appeal and utilization of single net leases within the commercial real estate sector. Understanding these factors provides insights into the dynamics of this lease type:

Market conditions and tenant preferences

The prevalence of single net leases may vary based on market conditions and tenant preferences. In markets where tenants seek cost transparency and landlords aim to reduce management overhead, the demand for single net leases may increase. Conversely, in markets where tenants prefer comprehensive lease packages, other lease types may dominate.

Property type considerations

Different property types may lend themselves more favorably to single net leases. For instance, industrial properties or stand-alone retail spaces may be well-suited for this arrangement, allowing landlords to shift specific cost burdens to tenants while maintaining control over property-related functions.

Exploring alternatives: Modified gross leases

While single net leases offer a segmented approach to cost-sharing, modified gross leases provide an alternative structure. Let’s briefly compare and contrast these two lease types:

Modified gross leases overview

In a modified gross lease, the landlord and tenant negotiate which specific operating expenses the tenant will cover. This flexibility allows for a customized arrangement, potentially combining elements of both gross and net leases. Unlike single net leases, modified gross leases offer a more nuanced and tailored approach to expense distribution.

Considerations for landlords: Single net vs. modified gross

Landlords must carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of both single net and modified gross leases when structuring agreements. Factors such as property type, tenant preferences, and market conditions play a crucial role in determining which lease type aligns with both parties’ interests.

Conclusion

Understanding the intricacies of single net leases is essential for both landlords and tenants in the commercial real estate landscape. While these leases offer a specific approach to cost-sharing, factors like market conditions, property type, and tenant preferences influence their prevalence. Exploring alternatives such as modified gross leases provides additional flexibility in tailoring agreements to meet the unique needs of both parties.

Frequently asked questions

What is the primary advantage of a single net lease for landlords?

A single net lease offers landlords the advantage of transferring the specific financial responsibility of property taxes to tenants. This can result in a more predictable revenue stream for landlords, as they delegate a significant operating expense to tenants while retaining control over other property-related costs.

How does a single net lease benefit tenants?

Tenants benefit from a single net lease by gaining potential cost savings. While taking on the responsibility of property taxes, tenants may negotiate for lower rent, creating a more transparent and predictable financial arrangement. This can be appealing to businesses seeking a clear understanding of their financial obligations.

Are single net leases common in the commercial real estate market?

No, single net leases are less common compared to other lease types. Most non-commercial property agreements are gross leases, where the landlord covers all property-related costs. Single net leases represent a specific subset of net leases, focusing on the transfer of property tax responsibilities to tenants.

How do single net leases differ from double and triple net leases?

In a single net lease, tenants assume the responsibility of one major operating expense—property taxes. In contrast, double net leases involve tenants covering two major expense categories, and triple net leases extend the responsibility to include all three—taxes, insurance, and maintenance. The key difference lies in the number of operating expenses delegated to tenants.

Can landlords shift negotiation efforts on property tax rates to tenants in single net leases?

Yes, landlords utilizing single net leases can shift negotiation and lobbying efforts on commercial property tax rates to tenants. This unique aspect of single net leases can be advantageous for absentee property owners with diverse property portfolios, allowing them to focus on overarching property management while delegating tax-related negotiations locally.

What factors should landlords consider when choosing between single net and modified gross leases?

Landlords should consider various factors when deciding between single net and modified gross leases. These factors include property type, tenant preferences, and market conditions. Single net leases offer a segmented approach to cost-sharing, while modified gross leases provide more flexibility in negotiating which specific operating expenses tenants will cover.

Key takeaways

  • Tenants in single net leases cover property taxes, offering potential cost savings for landlords.
  • Single net leases are a subset of net leases, distinguishing them from gross leases where landlords handle all property-related costs.
  • Landlords must carefully consider the pros and cons of single net leases, balancing financial benefits with retained responsibilities.

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