Leasing Terminology

Abatement: Often and commonly referred to as free rent or early occupancy and may occur outside or in addition to the primary term of the lease.

Allowance Over Building Shell: Most often used in a yet-to-be constructed property, the tenant has a blank canvas upon which to customize the interior finishes to their specifications. This arrangement caps the landlord's expenditure at a fixed dollar amount over the negotiated price of the base building shell. This arrangement is most successful when both parties agree on a detailed definition of what construction is included and at what price.

Anchor Tenant: The major or prime tenant in a shopping center, building, etc.

"As-Is" Condition: The acceptance by the tenant of the existing condition of the premises at the time the lease is consummated. This would include any physical defects.

Assignment: A transfer by lessee of lessee's entire estate in the property. Distinguishable from a sublease where the sublessee acquires something less than the lessee's entire interest.

Base Rent: A set amount used as a minimum rent in a lease with provisions for increasing the rent over the term of the lease.

Base Year: Actual taxes and operating expenses for a specified base year, most often the year in which the lease commences. Once the base year expenses are known, the lease essentially becomes a dollar stop lease.

Building Classifications: Building classifications in most markets refer to Class "A", "B", "C" and sometimes "D" properties. While the rating assigned to a particular building is very subjective, Class "A" properties are typically newer buildings with superior construction and finish in excellent locations with easy access, attractive to credit tenants, and which offer a multitude of amenities such as on-site management or covered parking. These buildings, of course, command the highest rental rates in their sub-market. As the "Class" of the building decreases (i.e. Class "B", "C" or "D") one component or another such as age, location or construction of the building becomes less desirable. Note that a Class "A" building in one sub-market might rank lower if it were located in a distinctly different sub-market just a few miles away containing a higher end product.

Building Code: The various laws set forth by the ruling municipality as to the end use of a certain piece of property and that dictate the criteria for design, materials and type of improvements allowed.

Build-out: The space improvements put in place per the tenant's specifications. Takes into consideration the amount of Tenant Finish Allowance provided for in the lease agreement.

Build-To-Suit: An approach taken to lease space by a property owner where a new building is designed and constructed per the tenant's specifications.

Capital Expenses: This type of expense is most often defined by reference to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), but GAAP does not provide definitive guidance on all possible expenditures. Accountants will often disagree on whether or not to include certain items.

Certificate of Occupancy: A document presented by a local government agency or building department certifying that a building and/or the leased premises (tenant's space), has been satisfactorily inspected and is/are in a condition suitable for occupancy.

Common Area: There are two components of the term "common area". If referred to in association with the Rentable/Usable or Load Factor calculation, the common areas are those areas within a building that are available for common use by all tenants or groups of tenants and their invitees (i.e. lobbies, corridors, restrooms, etc.). On the other hand, the cost of maintaining parking facilities, malls, sidewalks, landscaped areas, public toilets, truck and service facilities, and the like are included in the term "common area" when calculating the tenant's pro-rata share of building operating expenses.

Common Area Maintenance (CAM): This is the amount of Additional Rent charged to the tenant, in addition to the Base Rent, to maintain the common areas of the property shared by the tenants and from which all tenants benefit. Examples include: snow removal, outdoor lighting, parking lot sweeping, insurance, property taxes, etc. Most often, this does not include any capital improvements that are made to the property.

Comparables: Lease rates and terms of properties similar in size, construction quality, age, use, and typically located within the same sub-market and used as comparison properties to determine the fair market lease rate for another property with similar characteristics.

Concessions: Cash or cash equivalents expended by the landlord in the form of rental abatement, additional tenant finish allowance, moving expenses, cabling expenses or other monies expended to influence or persuade the tenant to sign a lease.

Consumer Price Index ("CPI"): Measures inflation in relation to the change in the price of a fixed market basket of goods and services purchased by a specified population during a "base" period of time. It is not a true "cost of living" factor and bears little direct relation to actual costs of building operation or the value of real estate. The CPI is commonly used to increase the base rental periodically as a means of protecting the landlord's rental stream against inflation or to provide a cushion for operating expense increases for a landlord unwilling to undertake the record keeping necessary for operating expense escalations.

Contiguous Space: (1) Multiple suites/spaces within the same building and on the same floor which can be combined and rented to a single tenant. (2) A block of space located on multiple adjoining floors in a building (i.e., a tenant leases floors 6 through 12 in a building).

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment: The old "quiet enjoyment" paragraph, now more commonly referred to as "Warranty of Possession", had nothing to do with noise in and around the leased premises. It provides a warranty by Landlord that it has the legal ability to convey the possession of the premises to Tenant; the Landlord does not warrant that he owns the land. This is the essence of the landlord's agreement and the tenant's obligation to pay rent. This means that if the landlord breaches this warranty, it constitutes an actual or constructive eviction.

Default: The general failure to perform a legal or contractual duty or to discharge an obligation when due. Some specific examples are: 1) Failure to make a payment of rent when due. 2) The breach or failure to perform any of the terms of a lease agreement.

Demising Walls: The partition wall that separates one tenant's space from another or from the building's common area such as a public corridor.

Distraint: The act of seizing (legally or illegally) personal property based on the right and interest which a landlord has in the property of a tenant in default.

Economic Rent: The market rental value of a property at a given point in time, even though the actual rent may be different.

Effective Rent: The actual rental rate to be achieved by the landlord after deducting the value of concessions from the base rental rate paid by a tenant, usually expressed as an average rate over the term of the lease.

Environmental Impact Statement: Documents which are required by federal and state laws to accompany proposals for major projects and programs that will likely have an impact on the surrounding environment.

Escalation Clause: A clause in a lease which provides for the rent to be increased to reflect changes in expenses paid by the landlord such as real estate taxes, operating costs, etc. This may be accomplished by several means such as fixed periodic increases, increases tied to the Consumer Price Index or adjustments based on changes in expenses paid by the landlord in relation to a dollar stop or base year reference.

Estoppel Certificate: A signed statement certifying that certain statements of fact are correct as of the date of the statement and can be relied upon by a third party, including a prospective lender or purchaser. In the context of a lease, a statement by a tenant identifying that the lease is in effect and certifying that no rent has been prepaid and that there are no known outstanding defaults by the landlord (except those specified)

Face Rental Rate: The "asking" rental rate published by the landlord.

First Generation Space: Generally refers to new space that is currently available for lease and has never before been occupied by a tenant.

First Refusal Right or Right Of First Refusal (Adjacent Space): A lease clause giving a tenant the first opportunity to lease additional space that might become available in a property at the same price and on the same terms and conditions as those contained in a third party offer that the owner has expressed a willingness to accept. This right is often restricted to specific areas of the building such as adjacent suites or other suites on the same floor.

Flex Space: A building providing its occupants the flexibility of utilizing the space. Usually provides a configuration allowing a flexible amount of office or showroom space in combination with manufacturing, laboratory, warehouse distribution, etc. Typically also provides the flexibility to relocate overhead doors. Generally constructed with little or no common areas, load-bearing floors, loading dock facilities and high ceilings.

Floor Area Ratio (FAR): The ratio of the gross square footage of a building to the land on which it is situated. Calculated by dividing the total square footage in the building by the square footage of land area.

Force Majeure: A force that cannot be controlled by the parties to a contract and prevents said parties from complying with the provisions of the contract. This includes acts of God such as a flood or a hurricane or, acts of man such as a strike, fire or war.

Future Proposed Space: Space in a proposed commercial development which is not yet under construction or where no construction start date has been set. Future Proposed projects include all those projects waiting for a lead tenant, financing, zoning, approvals or any other event necessary to begin construction. Also may refer to the future phases of a multi-phase project not yet built.

Graduated Lease: A lease, generally long term in nature, which provides that the rent will vary depending upon future contingencies, such as a periodic appraisal, the tenant's gross income or simply the passage of time.

Gross Building Area: The total floor area of the building measuring from the outer surface of exterior walls and windows and including all vertical penetrations (e.g. elevator shafts, etc.) and basement space.

Gross Lease: A lease in which the tenant pays a flat sum for rent out of which the landlord must pay all expenses such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, etc.

Guarantor: One who makes a guaranty.

Guaranty: Agreement whereby the guarantor undertakes collaterally to assure satisfaction of the debt of another or perform the obligation of another if and when the debtor fails to do so. Differs from a surety agreement in that there is a separate and distinct contract rather than a joint undertaking with the principal.

Highest and Best Use: The use of land or buildings which will bring the greatest economic return over a given time which is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible.

Hold Over Tenant: A tenant retaining possession of the leased premises after the expiration of a lease.

HVAC: The acronym for "Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning".

Improvements: In the context of leasing, the term typically refers to the improvements made to or inside a building but may include any permanent structure or other development, such as a street, sidewalks, utilities, etc.

Lease: An agreement whereby the owner of real property (i.e., landlord/lessor) gives the right of possession to another (i.e., tenant/lessee) for a specified period of time (i.e., term) and for a specified consideration (i.e., rent).

Lease Agreement: The formal legal document entered into between a Landlord and a Tenant to reflect the terms of the negotiations between them; that is, the lease terms have been negotiated and agreed upon, and the agreement has been reduced to writing. It constitutes the entire agreement between the parties and sets forth their basic legal rights.

Lease Commencement Date: The date usually constitutes the commencement of the term of the Lease for all purposes, whether or not the tenant has actually taken possession so long as beneficial occupancy is possible. In reality, there could be other agreements, such as an Early Occupancy Agreement, which have an impact on this strict definition.

Leasehold Improvements: Improvements made to the leased premises by or for a tenant. Generally, especially in new space, part of the negotiations will include in some detail the improvements to be made in the leased premises by Landlord.

Letter Of Intent: A preliminary agreement stating the proposed terms for a final contract. They can be "binding" or "non-binding". This is the threshold issue in most litigation concerning letters of intent. The parties should always consult their respective legal counsel before signing any Letter of Intent.

Market Rent: The rental income that a property would command on the open market with a landlord and a tenant ready and willing to consummate a lease in the ordinary course of business; indicated by the rents that landlords were willing to accept and tenants were willing to pay in recent lease transactions for comparable space.

Master Lease: A primary lease that controls subsequent leases and which may cover more property than subsequent leases. An Executive Suite operation is a good example in that a primary lease is signed with the landlord and then individual offices within the leased premises are leased to other individuals or companies.

Mixed-Use: Space within a building or project providing for more than one use (i.e., a loft or apartment project with retail, an apartment building with office space, an office building with retail space).

Net Lease: A lease in which there is a provision for the tenant to pay, in addition to rent, certain costs associated with the operation of the property. These costs may include property taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, and maintenance. There are also "NN" (double net) and "NNN" (triple net) leases. The difference between the three is the degree to which the tenant is responsible for operating costs.

Net Rentable Area: The floor area of a building that remains after the square footage represented by vertical penetrations, such as elevator shafts, etc., has been deducted. Common areas and mechanical rooms are included and there are no deductions made for necessary columns and projections of the building. (This is by the Building Owner and Manager Association - BOMA, Standard).

Net Square Footage (S.F.): The space required for a function or staff position.

Non-Compete Clause: A clause that can be inserted into a lease specifying that the business of the tenant is exclusive in the property and that no other tenant operating the same or similar type of business can occupy space in the building. This clause benefits service-oriented businesses desiring exclusive access to the building's population (i.e. travel agent, deli, etc.).

Normal Wear and Tear: The deterioration or loss in value caused by the tenant's normal and reasonable use. In many leases the tenant is not responsible for "normal wear and tear".

Operating Expenses: The actual costs associated with operating a property including maintenance, repairs, management, utilities, taxes and insurance. A landlord's definition of operating expenses is likely to be quite broad, covering most aspects of operating the building.

Operating Expense Escalation: Although there are many variations of operating expense escalation clauses, all are intended to adjust rents by reference to external standards such as published indexes, negotiated wage levels, or expenses related to the ownership and operation of buildings.

Percentage Lease: Refers to a provision of the lease calling for the landlord to be paid a percentage of the tenant's gross sales as a component of rent. There is usually a base rent amount to which "percentage" rent is then added. This type of clause is most often found in retail leases.

Prime Tenant: The major tenant in a building or, the major or anchor tenant in a shopping center serving to attract other, smaller tenants into adjacent space because of the customer traffic generated.

Pro rata: Proportionately; according to measure, interest, or liability. In the case of a tenant, the proportionate share of expenses for the maintenance and operation of the property.

Renewal Option: A clause giving a tenant the right to extend the term of a lease, usually for a stated period of time and at a rent amount as provided for in the option language.

Rent: Compensation or fee paid, usually periodically (i.e. monthly rent payments, for the occupancy and use of any rental property, land, buildings, equipment, etc.

Rent Commencement Date: The date on which a tenant begins paying rent. The dynamics of a marketplace will dictate whether this date coincides with the lease commencement date or if it commences months later (i.e., in a weak market, the tenant may be granted several months free rent). It will never begin before the lease commencement date.

Rentable Square Footage: Rentable Square Footage equals the Usable Square Footage plus the tenant's pro rata share of the Building Common Areas, such as lobbies, public corridors and restrooms. The pro-rata share, often referred to as the Rentable/Usable (R/U) Factor, will typically fall in a range of 1.10 to 1.16, depending on the particular building. Typically, a full floor occupancy will have an R/U Factor of 1.10 while a partial floor occupancy will have an R/U Factor of 1.12 to 1.16 times the Usable Area.

Rentable/Usable Ratio: That number obtained when the Total Rentable Area in a building is divided by the Usable Area in the building. The inverse of this ratio describes the proportion of space that an occupant can expect to actually utilize/physically occupy.

Rental Concession: Concessions a landlord may offer a tenant in order to secure their tenancy. While rental abatement is one form of a concession, there are many others such as: increased tenant improvement allowance, signage, lower than market rental rates and moving allowances are only a few of the many.

Rent-Up Period: That period of time, following construction of a new building, when tenants are actively being sought and the project is approaching its stabilized occupancy.

Second Generation or Secondary Space: Refers to previously occupied space that becomes available for lease, either directly from the landlord or as sublease space.

Security Deposit: A deposit of money by a tenant to a landlord to secure performance of a lease. This deposit can also take the form of a Letter of Credit or other financial instrument.

Shell Space: The interior condition of the tenant's usable square footage when it is without improvements or finishes. While existing improvements and finishes can be removed, thus returning space in an older building to its "shell" condition, the term most commonly refers to the condition of the usable square footage after completion of the building's "shell" construction but prior to the build out of the tenant's space. Shell construction typically denotes the floor, windows, walls and roof of an enclosed premises and may include some HVAC, electrical or plumbing improvements but not demising walls or interior space partitioning. In a new multi-tenant building, the common area improvements, such as lobbies, restrooms and exit corridors may also be included in the shell construction. With a newly constructed office building, there will often be a distinction between improvements above and below the ceiling grid. In a retail project, all or a portion of the floor slab is often installed along with the tenant improvements so as to better accommodate tenant specific under-floor plumbing requirements.

Space Plan: A graphic representation of a tenant's space requirements, showing wall and door locations, room sizes, and sometimes includes furniture layouts. A preliminary space plan will be prepared for a prospective tenant at any number of different properties and this serves as a "test-fit" to help the tenant determine which property will best meet its requirements. When the tenant has selected a building of choice, a final space plan is prepared which speaks to all of the landlord and tenant objectives and then approved by both parties. It must be sufficiently detailed to allow an accurate estimate of the construction costs. This final space plan will often become an exhibit to any lease negotiated between the parties.

Straight Lease (Flat Lease): A lease specifying the same, a fixed amount, of rent that is to be paid periodically during the entire term of the lease. This is typically paid out in monthly installments.

Tenant (Lessee): One who rents real estate from another and holds an estate by virtue of a lease.

Tenant At Will: One who holds possession of premises by permission of the owner or landlord, the characteristics of which are an uncertain duration (i.e. without a fixed term) and the right of either party to terminate on proper notice.

Tenant Improvements: Improvements made to the leased premises by or for a tenant. Generally, especially in new space, part of the negotiations will include in some detail the improvements to be made in the leased premises by the landlord.

Tenant Improvement ("TI") Allowance or Work Letter: Defines the fixed amount of money contributed by the landlord toward tenant improvements. The tenant pays any of the costs that exceed this amount. Also commonly referred to as "Tenant Finish Allowance.

Trade Fixtures: Personal property that is attached to a structure (i.e. the walls of the leased premises) that are used in the business. Since this property is part of the business and not deemed to be part of the real estate, it is typically removable upon lease termination.

Triple Net (NNN) Rent: A lease in which the tenant pays, in addition to rent, certain costs associated with a leased property, which may include property taxes, insurance premiums, repairs, utilities, and maintenances. There are also "Net Leases" and "NN" (double net) leases, depending upon the degree to which the tenant is responsible for operating costs.

Use: The specific purpose for which a parcel of land or a building is intended to be used or for which it has been designed or arranged.

Usable Square Footage: Usable Square Footage is the area contained within the demising walls of the tenant space. Total Usable Square Footage equals the Net Square Footage x the Circulation Factor.

Vacant Space: Refers to existing tenant space currently being marketed for lease. This excludes space available for sublease.

Zoning: The division of a city or town into zones and the application of regulations having to do with the structural, architectural design and intended use of buildings within such designated zone (i.e. a tenant needing manufacturing space would look for a building located within an area zoned for manufacturing).

Zoning Ordinance: Refers to the set of laws and regulations, generally, at the city or county level, controlling the use of land and construction of improvements in a given area or zone.

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