What Does the Landlord Pay for in a Triple Net Lease?

Jan 4, 2024

A triple net lease (NNN) property is an investment in which the landlord has very few, if any, costs or responsibilities associated with owning and leasing the property. The NNN tenant agrees to a long-term lease that requires paying the “net” amount for three types of costs.

The associated  costs the landlord typically does not have to pay include:

  1. Net real estate taxes on the leased asset
  2. Net building insurance
  3. Net common area maintenance (CAM) charges, which can also include operational expenses.

What does the landlord actually pay for as the owner of a triple net lease property?

First, let’s look at what ownership of a regular gross lease property (not a NNN lease property) would include. In a traditional gross lease or modified gross lease, either the landlord or the tenant need to define and pay for many different operating expenses as outlined in the terms of the lease. These expenses can include things like repaving parking lots, upgrading outdoor lighting, installing a new HVAC unit, and improving the landscaping.

By contrast, in a triple net lease or an absolute triple net lease, the lease states that the landlord does not pay any or pays for very few operational expenses or capital expenditures during the lease term. Since the tenant benefits from the ongoing care of common areas and regular building maintenance for 10–20 years, the tenant typically pays common area maintenance (CAM) outright as explained in the lease. That means all or most CAM and additional operational costs are the tenant’s responsibility. Some triple net lease properties require the landlord to pay for a few things, such as parking lot, roof, and structure. We’ll explain that more below.

CAM charges typically paid by the tenant:

  • Sewer, plumbing, electrical repairs, and maintenance
  • Parking lot striping, maintenance, refurbishment, lighting
  • Snow removal
  • Landscaping
  • Trash removal
  • Janitorial and pest control services
  • Security systems/personnel
  • Liability insurance
  • Insurance and deductibles
  • Real estate taxes
  • Center signage
  • Common area utilities
  • Common area HVAC maintenance
  • Leased items for the building
  • Legal fees associated with the property
  • Landlord’s administrative or property manager costs
  • Capital expenditures such as a new HVAC/heating system, roofing, windows

Landlords benefit from owning a triple net lease property – they have reduced costs/expenses and experience lifestyle freedom, and freedom from worrying about the state of their property.

Download our CAM Checklist here so you know what to ask about and look for as you view properties.

Absolute Triple Net Lease Landlord Responsibilities

As an “absolute triple net lease” investor and landlord, you do nothing but collect rent from a major corporation or fast food franchisee, while the tenant takes care of everything. Most investment-grade corporations, such as Dollar General, Walgreens, and 7-Eleven, want brand uniformity, so they choose to operate with this type of lease, which completely absolves the landlord from any financial or physical responsibility whatsoever.

It is important to note, certain corporations operate with what’s often considered a “modified NNN” or a double net (NN) lease. Starbucks, for example, holds the landlord responsible for the roof, structure, and parking lot. When a purchase contract is signed, our team at Westwood Net Lease Advisors  performs due diligence to learn how likely these responsibilities are to create expenses and landlord headaches. Often, they produce no issues.

Types of Absolute Triple Net Lease Properties with No CAM Charges

Hidden Lease Clauses that Can Turn an Absolute Triple Net into Something Else

As you move forward with commercial real estate investing, watch for lease clauses with hidden responsibilities. A lease may appear to be an absolute triple net lease, but, upon further examination, you may find creatively worded clauses that take away the freedom of zero responsibility.

When reviewing a lease, you should involve an expert, such as Westwood Net Lease Advisors. A reputable buyer’s advisor is very important in your process. They will thoroughly evaluate the lease, find any language that adds landlord responsibility, and ensure your best interests are represented.

Landlords have Zero Responsibilities in Triple Net Investments

Westwood Logo in blue/goldAs you can see, there are few, if any, landlord expenses when it comes to owning a triple net property.

Absolute NNN investing offers zero landlord responsibility, while other triple nets leases may include minor ownership responsibilities like roof, structure, and parking lot. Most major brands and high-credit tenants operate with triple nets, so the leases are generally pre-set and straightforward, offering a carefree landlord lifestyle and guaranteed income.

When you decide to invest, partnering with a trusted, experienced buyer’s advisor from Westwood Net Lease Advisors will make for a smooth process, from before the property search through closing, and alleviate the unknowns as we advocate for you to get you the most passive, transparent triple net investment for your goals – all at no cost to you. For more information, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation, 314-997-5227.

Looking To Buy Commercial Property?

Find out why triple-net lease real estate investments should be part of your investment portfolio.

Looking To Buy Commercial Property?

Find out why triple-net lease real estate investments should be part of your investment portfolio.