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Single Net Lease: What It Is and How It Compares

Understanding the various lease types in the commercial real estate sector is essential for informed decision-making. One such lease type that often comes to the fore for potential investors is the single net lease. 

Points Acquisition presents this detailed overview to clarify what a single net lease entails and how it compares to other leasing options in the industry.

What Is A Single Net Lease?

A single net lease is a form of pass-through lease wherein the tenant is responsible for paying property taxes in addition to their regular rent. While tenants also bear the costs of utilities, the landlord typically covers other operating expenses.

Operating expenses include insurance, repairs, and maintenance costs. Moreover, under this leasing arrangement, tenants often pay a percentage of the lease to share in common building expenses. 

For landlords, the single net lease is seen as a less risky investment due to reduced maintenance charges, property taxes’ pass-through nature, and certain other costs to the tenant.

Why Is It Called A Single Net Lease?

The term single net lease originates from the concept of a net lease, where the landlord receives income that is net of certain expenses, meaning these costs are deducted from the rent. 

In the context of net lease, the word single indicates that the tenant bears one primary expense in addition to the base rent. Specifically, in a single net lease, the tenant pays both the base rent and a portion of the property taxes for the leased space.

While the tenant covers the rent and property taxes, the landlord remains responsible for other expenses, including insurance and maintenance.

single tenant net lease

What Are The Advantages Of A Single Net Lease?

Opting for a single net lease offers both the property owner and tenant several benefits. Firstly, this lease type can simplify business operations, allowing the property owner more time to focus on other essential tasks, such as marketing and sales.

The structure of the single net lease, where tenants cover costs like taxes, insurance, and maintenance, invariably enhances the cash flow for landlords by reducing their operational expenses.

The single net lease setup also minimizes landlords’ real estate tax exposure, which can be especially advantageous. For certain taxpayers, like Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), it may even contribute to lowering taxable income. 

Additionally, single net leases often provide room for flexibility in crafting lease agreements. By including provisions such as the “Landlord’s Deduction” clause, landlords can be reimbursed for specific costs, simultaneously offering tenants a clearer financial picture and enhanced protection.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Single Net Lease?

While single net leases present various advantages, there are potential drawbacks that the property owner and tenant should consider. 

One of the primary concerns is that these leases can be time-consuming, necessitating intricate planning to determine which costs are borne by each party. The level of detail required makes the single net lease more expensive over time compared to conventional leases. 

From a tenant’s perspective, there’s a risk of covering expenses traditionally handled by the property owner in other leasing structures. Covering expenses means they might pay for specific repairs or other unexpected costs. Due to these irregular out-of-pocket expenses, both parties might need help accurately estimating their monthly profits. 

Unpredictability regarding monthly profits might not suit investors aiming for a consistent return on investment (ROI) or those who prefer a more hands-off, time-efficient approach to property leasing. 

The single net lease contrasts with the advantages, where the simplification of certain business operations and enhanced cash flow are prominent.

single lease

What Is The Difference Between Single Net Leases And Other Lease Types?

In the vast landscape of property leasing, many options exist suited to landlords’ and tenants’ specific needs and situations.

For commercial real estate, especially those of larger scale, net leases, including the single net lease, are a popular choice. On the flip side, gross leases often take precedence for non-commercial properties. 

Let’s take a look at some of the particular distinctions in lease types:

Single net lease vs. gross lease

Distinguishing between a single net lease and a gross lease is important for potential investors as each offers a unique structure and advantages. 

In a full-service gross lease, tenants pay a higher rent, which encapsulates all operating expenses. The consequence of higher rent means there’s no additional cost for the tenant beyond the rent.

Gross leases provide simplicity, as tenants don’t have to be concerned about unexpected property expenses. 

Conversely, in a single net lease, while the monthly rent is typically reduced, tenants are responsible for a portion of the property taxes in addition to this rent. Single net leases can be advantageous for tenants who can negotiate lower base rents in exchange for taking on specific expenses. 

Gross leases are the predominant rental agreement form for non-commercial properties, providing straightforwardness in financial commitments. 

The choice between the two often depends on the investor’s preference for stability versus the potential for reduced costs and the specific nature of the property in question.

Single net lease vs. double net lease

A double net lease, often called net-net or NN lease, necessitates tenants covering property taxes, insurance premiums, and the base rent. Given the added expenses on the tenant’s part, the base rent in such leases is generally set at a lower rate. In contrast, a single net lease is simpler, with tenants shouldering only the property taxes on top of their rent.

Commercial spaces, especially in developments like shopping malls or office complexes, vary significantly in size, which has implications for both lease types. For both single and double net leases, the costs of taxes (and insurance in the case of a double net lease) are typically distributed among tenants based on the proportion of space they lease. 

However, it’s important to note that landlords remain the primary parties responsible for tax and insurance payments regardless of the lease’s structure. The arrangement of the landlord being responsible for tax and insurance often leads to tenants directly reimbursing the landlord for these expenses.

One key distinction to remember is the handling of maintenance costs. In double net leases, the landlord generally shoulders the responsibility for these expenses, ensuring the property remains in good condition without adding financial burden on the tenant.

Single net lease vs. triple net lease

Tenants bear more responsibilities in a triple net lease than in a single net lease. Specifically, tenants must cover property taxes, insurance, and the costs associated with maintenance and repairs in addition to their regular rent payments.

Essentially, triple net leases shift most property-related expenses to the tenant, ensuring the landlord receives a more predictable and often lower maintenance income.

Such arrangements are typically more prevalent for longer lease terms, as they provide stability to both parties over extended periods. 

A triple net lease is also frequently utilized for commercial properties housing multiple tenants. This setup allows each tenant’s share of the expenses (taxes, insurance premiums, and maintenance) to be distributed based on the proportion of space they occupy or other agreed-upon terms, making it a favorable choice for large complexes or shopping centers.

single net lease meaning

Why Are Single Net Leases Less Common Than Other Types?

The primary reason for single net leases being less common is the inherent risks associated with single net leases for landlords. With these leases, tenants are usually responsible for paying their rent and one additional property expense, most commonly the property taxes.

Single net leases can pose a significant challenge: if a tenant defaults or neglects to pay property taxes, the burden unexpectedly shifts back to the landlord, causing potential financial strain and administrative complexities.

Given such vulnerabilities, landlords often gravitate towards double or triple net leases. These lease types offer enhanced protection and assurance, ensuring that property expenses are adequately managed. 

Double and triple net leases provide a framework where tenants shoulder broader costs and instill confidence in landlords that their investments are shielded from potential tenant defaults on specific expenses. When assigning responsibilities related to property taxes, landlords typically prefer the protective nature of double or triple net leases over single net leases.

In conclusion, while single net leases offer a unique proposition within the commercial real estate sphere, their less frequent adoption can be attributed to the balance of risk and assurance landlords seek in their leasing arrangements. 

As the landscape of commercial real estate continues to evolve, landlords and tenants must carefully weigh each lease type’s benefits and challenges to find the best fit for their specific needs.

About The Author

Jesse Shemesh

With a wealth of experience in nurturing diverse commercial real estate investment portfolios across multiple markets, I actively engage in the development and execution of deals spanning all asset classes. My expertise lies in collaborating with strategic partners, including corporate real estate professionals, fund managers, developers, and investors, to source, identify, and entitle opportunities. At Point Acquisitions, we take pride in our unique, proprietary platform that specializes in property acquisitions, generating a steady stream of organic deal flow that sets us apart from the competition. As a seasoned professional in the real estate industry, I am dedicated to creating lasting partnerships and delivering exceptional results for all stakeholders.


Please note that Point Acquisitions is not a tax expert or tax advisor. The information on our blogs and pages is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, or accounting advice. Any information provided does not constitute professional advice or create an attorney-client or any other professional relationship. We recommend that you consult with your tax advisor or seek professional advice before making any decisions based on the information provided on our blogs and pages. Point Acquisitions is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information provided on our blogs and pages.

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