absolute net lease vs triple net lease

absolute net lease vs triple net lease

When it comes to commercial real estate investments, understanding the nuances of lease agreements is essential for both property owners and tenants. Two common types of leases in this realm are the Absolute Net Lease and the Triple Net Lease. Although they sound similar and are often confused, there are distinct differences that can have significant implications for both parties involved.

Definition and Scope


Absolute Net Lease:


An Absolute Net Lease, also known as a Bond Lease, is the most extensive form of a net lease. Under this arrangement, the tenant assumes all possible property expenses, which include maintenance, repairs, taxes, insurance, and even structural elements. The landlord has no financial responsibilities whatsoever. This type of lease is often used for single-tenant properties and is favored by investors because it offers a predictable income stream without any landlord obligations, even in the case of extraordinary events like natural disasters.

Triple Net Lease (NNN):


A Triple Net Lease, on the other hand, requires the tenant to pay for three primary costs: property taxes, building insurance, and maintenance. However, unlike in an Absolute Net Lease, certain extraordinary expenses, particularly structural repairs, may still fall under the landlord’s responsibility depending on the specific terms of the lease agreement. This type of lease is common in multi-tenant commercial properties like shopping centers, where managing variable expenses can be more complex.

Financial Implications


Risk and Responsibility:


The main difference in financial responsibility between these two leases lies in who bears the risk for major repairs or full rebuilding in the event of catastrophic events. In an Absolute Net Lease, the tenant would be responsible for all repairs, including major structural work. In contrast, a Triple Net Lease typically shields the tenant from some of the most extreme maintenance costs, which can be a deciding factor for businesses that prefer not to handle unpredictable expenses.

Predictability and Stability:


For landlords, Absolute Net Leases offer greater predictability and stability, as all expenses are passed to the tenant. This setup is particularly attractive to absentee landlords or investors who do not wish to be involved in the day-to-day management of the property. Triple Net Leases, while still providing a degree of predictability, require more involvement from the landlord and a closer eye on the property’s condition and the costs being passed to tenants.

Market Trends and Suitability


Suitability for Tenants and Landlords:


Choosing between an Absolute Net Lease and a Triple Net Lease often depends on the tenant’s business type, financial stability, and preference for control over the property. Larger, more stable companies may prefer Absolute Net Leases for their simplicity and predictability, while smaller businesses might opt for Triple Net Leases to avoid the burden of structural repairs.

Market Trends:


In recent years, the preference for different types of leases can also reflect broader economic conditions. For example, in a stable economic environment, tenants may be more willing to commit to Absolute Net Leases.

Conversely, during economic uncertainty, tenants might favor Triple Net Leases to mitigate unforeseen financial risks.


Both Absolute Net Leases and Triple Net Leases offer unique advantages and come with specific responsibilities. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for tenants to negotiate terms that align with their long-term business strategies and for landlords to manage their investment risks effectively. Ultimately, the choice between these leases can significantly impact the financial health and operational flexibility of the businesses involved.

Legal Considerations and Contractual Nuances


When drafting or entering into an Absolute Net Lease or a Triple Net Lease, it’s crucial to pay close attention to the language of the lease agreement. The precise terms can significantly impact the obligations of both the tenant and the landlord.

Absolute Net Lease Legalities:


In an Absolute Net Lease, the lease agreement must explicitly state that the tenant is responsible for all types of costs related to the property, including those typically unforeseeable or rare. Legal experts often advise tenants in such leases to conduct thorough due diligence and possibly secure insurance policies that cover all conceivable scenarios, including total property loss.

Triple Net Lease Considerations:


For Triple Net Leases, the specific responsibilities of each party should be clearly outlined, especially around issues such as roof, structure, and parking lot repairs, which are common areas of dispute. Tenants and landlords need to negotiate who handles these major expenditures and under what circumstances. These details should be meticulously documented to avoid future conflicts.

Impact on Investment Strategy


For Investors:


Investors favoring a hands-off approach are typically drawn to properties offered under an Absolute Net Lease due to the minimal management required. These leases are particularly appealing in stable or improving economic climates where tenant solvency is less of a concern.

Conversely, Triple Net Leases might be more attractive in volatile markets or when investing in properties with multiple tenants. These leases offer more flexibility in handling unexpected major expenses that could otherwise deter single tenants from leasing.

For Tenants:


Tenants must consider their long-term financial stability and business needs when choosing between these lease types. An Absolute Net Lease might be more suitable for a tenant with enough financial cushion to manage additional expenses without difficulty. In contrast, a Triple Net Lease might appeal to tenants looking for lower risk and potentially lower costs over time, particularly if they are concerned about the volatility of their business sector.

Strategic Considerations for Both Parties


Location and Property Type:


The choice between an Absolute Net Lease and a Triple Net Lease can also depend on the location and type of property. Properties in areas prone to natural disasters or those that require significant upkeep may be better suited to Triple Net Leases to share the risk of high and unexpected expenses.

Long-Term Planning:


Both landlords and tenants should think about their long-term plans when deciding on a lease type. Landlords need to consider how active they want to be in the management of the property and how much risk they are willing to absorb. Tenants should consider how lease obligations might impact their financial flexibility and operational efficiency.


The decision between an Absolute Net Lease and a Triple Net Lease involves a complex interplay of financial, legal, and strategic considerations. Both tenants and landlords must carefully evaluate their priorities and risks to choose the lease type that best aligns with their goals and circumstances. Engaging with knowledgeable real estate professionals and legal advisors to navigate these decisions is crucial, ensuring that all parties are well-informed and adequately protected in their commercial real estate ventures.