Industrial Gross Lease: Everything You Need to Know

Author Ivan Smiljanic Read bio
Tags: commercial double net lease industrial gross lease
Date: January 18, 2021

What is an Industrial Gross Lease?

An industrial gross lease is a type of commercial real estate lease commonly used for industrial spaces, such as warehouses, factories, and other large-scale facilities. Under this lease structure, the tenant is responsible for paying the base rent plus some, but not all, of the operating expenses associated with the property.

 

Here are the key characteristics of an industrial gross lease:

  1. Base Rent: The tenant pays a fixed base rent for the use of the property, which is agreed upon by both the tenant and the landlord at the start of the lease term.
  2. Operating Expenses: In addition to base rent, the tenant also pays a portion of the operating expenses. These can include property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. However, unlike a triple net lease (NNN), not all operating costs are passed to the tenant. The specific expenses covered by the tenant can vary based on the lease agreement but typically include utilities and janitorial services. The landlord generally covers structural repairs and common area maintenance.
  3. Flexibility: The terms regarding which operating expenses are tenant responsibilities and which are landlord responsibilities can vary widely from lease to lease. This flexibility allows the lease terms to be tailored to the specific needs and negotiation outcomes of the parties involved.
  4. Common Areas: Costs associated with the maintenance of common areas (like lobbies, parking lots, and elevators) are typically shared between the tenant and the landlord, depending on the negotiation of the lease.

Industrial gross leases offer a middle ground between the simplicity of a full-service lease, where the landlord assumes all property-related costs, and the specificity of a triple net lease, where the tenant is responsible for most or all of these costs.

This type of lease can be particularly attractive in industrial settings where the usage and costs can vary significantly based on the type of operations conducted by the tenant. It allows for a more balanced approach to expense sharing, providing predictability in budgeting for the tenant while still ensuring that the landlord can cover significant property costs.

Industrial Gross vs Modified Gross

Industrial Gross Lease

An Industrial Gross Lease is a type of lease often used in industrial real estate transactions. It splits some of the operating expenses between the tenant and the landlord.

  1. Base Rent: The tenant pays a base rent.
  2. Operating Expenses: Under an industrial gross lease, the tenant typically pays base rent plus some of the operating expenses such as utilities and janitorial services. The landlord usually covers the structural repairs, roofing, and common area maintenance.
  3. Flexibility: The exact terms can vary widely; some industrial gross leases might require the tenant to pay for all utilities and janitorial services, while others may include these in the rent, depending on what’s negotiated.

Modified Gross Lease

A Modified Gross Lease, similar to a full-service or gross lease, requires the tenant to pay a base rent that includes most of the property’s operating expenses, but with more clarity on who pays what.

  1. Base Rent: Includes most operating costs.
  2. Operating Expenses: In a modified gross lease, the tenant pays the base rent that generally includes taxes, insurance, and CAM (Common Area Maintenance), but utilities and janitorial services are often paid separately by the tenant. Unlike a full-service lease, where the rent typically includes all costs, the modified gross lease clearly delineates specific tenant responsibilities.
  3. Transparency and Predictability: This type of lease offers transparency and predictability for both parties. It clearly defines which operating expenses are included in the base rent and which are not, preventing future disputes and confusion.

Key Differences

  • Expense Coverage: The primary difference lies in the extent of expense coverage. Industrial gross leases often leave more operating costs for the tenant to cover compared to a modified gross lease, where the base rent includes more of the operating expenses except typically the utilities and janitorial services.
  • Clarity and Negotiability: Modified gross leases generally provide clearer terms about expense responsibilities, which can lead to fewer misunderstandings and smoother landlord-tenant relationships.
  • Suitability: Industrial gross leases may be more common in purely industrial contexts where variable usage of utilities and services can be significant, whereas modified gross leases are often used in office spaces or mixed-use scenarios where expenses are more predictable and uniform.

Determining Suitability

  • Business Operations: Businesses with high utility usage, such as manufacturing facilities, might prefer an industrial gross lease to better control costs associated with their specific usage. In contrast, businesses like professional services firms, which may have more predictable utility usage, could find a modified gross lease more appealing because it simplifies budgeting by including most operational costs in the rent.
  • Negotiation Leverage: The bargaining power of tenants or landlords can also influence the choice between these lease types. In a tenant’s market, businesses might negotiate for a modified gross lease to cap their expense exposure. Conversely, in a landlord’s market, owners might prefer industrial gross leases to ensure tenants cover more variable costs.
  • Financial Planning: From a financial perspective, tenants need to consider how these leases impact their cash flow. A modified gross lease might offer more predictable expenses month-to-month, whereas an industrial gross lease could result in lower base rent but variable additional costs.
  • Long-term Costs: Tenants should consider not just the immediate costs but also long-term expense trends. For example, if utility costs are expected to rise significantly, a modified gross lease that locks in most operating costs might be more beneficial.

Pros and Cons

For Tenants:

Pros:

  1. Predictable Costs: One of the primary benefits for tenants is the predictability of costs. The tenant typically pays a set base rent plus utilities and janitorial services, while the landlord covers most other operating expenses like roof and structural repairs, and sometimes, the property taxes and insurance. This setup allows tenants to budget more effectively without worrying about unexpected maintenance or operational costs.
  2. Reduced Responsibilities: Compared to a triple net lease, tenants have fewer responsibilities concerning property management and maintenance. This can be particularly advantageous for tenants who prefer to focus on their business operations without the added burden of extensive property management.
  3. Flexibility in Negotiations: Industrial gross leases often provide room for negotiation on which specific expenses the tenant will cover. This can be tailored to suit the tenant’s needs and financial situation, offering a customized leasing solution.

Cons:

  1. Potentially Higher Rent: Because the landlord assumes responsibility for several expenses, the base rent in an industrial gross lease might be higher than in a triple net lease where the tenant assumes most expenses.
  2. Limited Control Over Building Management: Since the landlord handles property maintenance and repairs, tenants have limited control over these aspects. If the landlord is less diligent, it could impact the tenant’s operations.
  3. Opaque Costs: Sometimes, the costs included in the lease aren’t itemized, which might lead to tenants paying for inefficiencies or inflated prices managed under the landlord’s control.

For Investors/Landlords:

Pros:

  1. Attractive to Tenants: Industrial gross leases are often more attractive to potential tenants who are looking for simplicity in lease agreements and want to avoid handling insurance, taxes, and maintenance. This can lead to higher occupancy rates.
  2. Control Over Property Management: Investors maintain control over the management and upkeep of the property. This control can ensure that the property is maintained to a high standard, preserving or enhancing its value.
  3. Stable Income: Even though the landlord covers several expenses, the structure of the lease typically allows for a stable and predictable income stream, as the base rent is usually higher to compensate for the covered expenses.

Cons:

  1. Financial Burden of Maintenance and Repairs: The landlord is responsible for most of the building’s maintenance and operational costs, which can be significant, especially if unexpected issues arise.
  2. Risk of Cost Overruns: If the costs of taxes, insurance, and maintenance increase significantly, the landlord may not be able to pass these costs onto the tenants, affecting profitability.
  3. Complexity in Expense Management: Managing the various expenses and ensuring they are kept within reasonable limits requires diligent management and can complicate the financial aspects of property management.

Overall, whether an industrial gross lease is favorable or not will largely depend on the specific circumstances and priorities of the tenants and investors involved. Both parties should carefully consider these factors in relation to their financial objectives and operational requirements before entering into a lease agreement.

Industrial Gross Double Net Lease Negotiation Strategies

Negotiating an industrial gross double net lease requires a strategic approach to balance risk and reward effectively. Here are a couple of strategies to consider when entering into such negotiations:

1. Understand and Leverage the Market Conditions

Before negotiations begin, research the current market conditions thoroughly. Understand the supply and demand dynamics for industrial properties in your area. If there is a high vacancy rate, you may have more leverage to negotiate favorable terms. Conversely, in a tight market with high demand and low supply, you need to be prepared to move quickly and possibly make concessions.

  • Strategy: Use market data to argue for lower rent or more favorable lease terms. For example, if market rates are trending downward, highlight this during negotiations to secure a lower base rent or negotiate caps on annual increases in property taxes and insurance costs that you’re responsible for under the double net aspect of the lease.

2. Negotiate Maintenance and Repair Responsibilities

In an industrial gross lease with double net features, the landlord typically covers maintenance, but the tenant pays for taxes and insurance. One area of potential negotiation is who handles certain types of repairs, particularly those related to the roof, structure, or parking areas, which can be significant in industrial properties.

  • Strategy: Attempt to negotiate that the landlord handles or shares more of the significant repair duties or offers a cap on your annual maintenance expenditures. This can protect you from large, unexpected outlays. For example, you might agree to cover small repairs and maintenance up to a certain dollar amount per year, with the landlord responsible for any significant repairs or replacements beyond that.

3. Clarify and Cap Operating Expense Increases

Since you will be responsible for taxes and insurance, clarify exactly how these costs will be calculated and what increases you can expect over the term of the lease. Sometimes, taxes and insurance can sharply increase due to changes in property assessments, tax rates, or insurance market conditions.

  • Strategy: Negotiate caps on how much your payments for taxes and insurance can increase annually. This cap will help you budget more accurately and avoid sudden spikes in your operating costs. You can also request a more detailed breakdown or access to the calculation methods for these costs to ensure transparency.

4. Secure Flexibility in the Lease Term

Longer lease terms can be a double-edged sword in industrial leases. While they secure a location and often come with better rates, they also reduce flexibility. As a tenant, you might want the option to expand, contract, or leave a space depending on how your business evolves.

  • Strategy: Negotiate shorter lease terms with renewal options. This approach provides security but also keeps your options open. Additionally, try to negotiate a clause that allows you to sublease the property, which can provide an exit strategy or an opportunity to adjust if your space needs change.

5. Request a Tenant Improvement Allowance

If the property needs modifications to suit your specific industrial needs, negotiate for a tenant improvement allowance. This is a sum that the landlord provides to customize or upgrade the leased space.

  • Strategy: Determine the extent of the modifications you need and estimate their costs. Use these estimates in your negotiations to secure an allowance that covers or contributes significantly to these improvements. Be prepared to justify how these improvements add value to the property as well, which can be an incentive for the landlord to agree.

By approaching negotiations with these strategies, you can better manage your costs, risks, and benefits in an industrial gross double net lease, aligning the lease terms more closely with your business needs and financial goals.

How Can IPG Help?

Hopefully, you have understood what is an industrial gross lease, how its assets can benefit both tenants and landlords, and why you should carefully consider how each term will affect their present and future goals.

We deliver the most transparent, flexible, and comprehensive experience in the market. Get in touch with us, and start your search today!