Demystifying Lease Terms: A Guide for Non-Credit Tenants in Commercial Real Estate

May 04, 2024

Leasing commercial real estate can be a complex process, especially for non-credit tenants who may not be familiar with all the industry jargon. Understanding lease terms is crucial for making informed decisions and ensuring a mutually beneficial agreement with the landlord. In this guide, we will break down some common lease terms to help demystify the leasing process for non-credit tenants.

Types of Leases

Commercial leases typically fall into three main categories: gross leases, net leases, and modified gross leases. Each type has its own set of responsibilities for the tenant in terms of rent and expenses.

Gross Lease

In a gross lease, the tenant pays a flat monthly rent that includes all operating expenses such as utilities, maintenance, and property taxes. This type of lease provides simplicity and predictability for tenants.

Net Lease

Net leases require tenants to pay a base rent plus additional expenses such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs. There are three variations of net leases: single net lease, double net lease, and triple net lease, each shifting varying degrees of financial responsibility to the tenant.

Modified Gross Lease

A modified gross lease is a combination of a gross lease and a net lease. In this type of lease, certain expenses are shared between the landlord and the tenant, offering a middle ground in terms of financial obligations.

Image: commercial real estate/lease

Lease Term Length

Another important aspect of a commercial lease is the term length, which refers to the duration of the lease agreement. Lease terms can vary widely, from short-term leases of a few months to long-term leases spanning several years.

Short-Term Lease

Short-term leases offer flexibility for tenants who may not want to commit to a long-term agreement. However, they may come with higher monthly rents and less stability in terms of occupancy.

Long-Term Lease

Long-term leases provide stability and security for tenants, often with lower monthly rents and the ability to negotiate favorable terms. These leases are ideal for businesses looking to establish a long-term presence in a commercial space.

Common Lease Clauses

Lease agreements often include specific clauses that outline the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. Some common lease clauses to be aware of include:

  • Assignment and subletting clauses
  • Maintenance and repair obligations
  • Default and remedies provisions
  • Renewal options

It is essential for non-credit tenants to carefully review these clauses and seek legal advice if needed to ensure they understand their obligations under the lease agreement.

Understanding Rent Escalations

Rent escalations refer to clauses in the lease agreement that allow for rent increases over time. These escalations can be based on various factors, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or predetermined percentage increases. Non-credit tenants should be aware of rent escalation clauses and factor them into their budgeting to avoid unexpected rent hikes.

Image: commercial lease agreement

Negotiating Lease Terms

When leasing commercial real estate, non-credit tenants have the opportunity to negotiate certain terms of the lease to better align with their needs and budget. It is advisable to work with a real estate broker or attorney experienced in commercial leasing to help navigate the negotiation process and secure favorable terms.


By understanding common lease terms, types of leases, and key clauses, non-credit tenants can approach the commercial real estate leasing process with confidence and clarity. Taking the time to educate oneself on these aspects of leasing can lead to a more successful and mutually beneficial leasing agreement with the landlord.