When a tenant pays a prorata share of taxes or CAM, there are often defined excluded areas. Most typically, those defined excluded areas are either directly assessed, self-maintaining or insured, or are paying at a rate significantly less than full prorata. By defining those areas as “excluded areas,” the landlord reduces it absorption of CAM or taxes not paid by those areas. And, again, most typically, the contributions made by those defined excluded areas are deducted from the total allocable expenses prior to calculating the specific tenant’s share of CAM or taxes.
However, there are instances where a lease will read “without deducting contributions from excluded areas” (this is most often seen in the northeast part of the country and Florida). This specific language allows the rare “double dip” by the landlord. It happens infrequently but it does happen.
Occasionally, we’ll see the opposite. Where the previous example includes very specific language that does state “without deducting,” the opposite is often an error. A lease will read something to the effect of “after deducting contributions from Majors,” but the lease does not allow the same Majors’ square footage to de excluded from the denominator. This gives opportunity for the rare “double dip” by the tenant.
One not uncommon issue is where a lease requires Majors or some other defined excluded excluded area to be excluded from the denominator, but subject to a cap on how much square footage may be deducted, or to some certain number of tenants that may be considered excluded areas. For example, a lease may read that “the denominator used to allocate CAM shall be the Gross Leasable Area of the center excluding any tenant greater than 15,000 sf. However, in no event shall the denominator ever be less than 200,000 sf.” In this scenario, if the denominator would have been 175,000 sf after deducting all excluded areas, the landlord would still be required to use 200,000 sf as the denominator. But often, the landlord would have deducted the contributions from all tenants that would have otherwise taken then down to 175,000 sf. In that particular (again, not so uncommon) instance, the landlord would have “overdeducted” contributions.
Our very insightful client recognized that, if not considered, the balance of the tenants would be getting a contribution from an anchor for taxes that they, themselves, were not required to pay.
Why this issue this week? We worked on a property this week where a portion of the property was subject to a material tax abatement. Two of the anchor tenants were required to pay taxes based upon what they would have been absent 50% or 75% of the abatement. So, in this instance, the two tenants were paying on taxes greater than total taxes billed. However, the balance of the tenants did not have the same requirement and were being billed based upon actual taxes. Our very insightful client recognized that, if not considered, the balance of the tenants would be getting a contribution from an anchor for taxes that they, themselves, were not required to pay.
While excluded area contributions are usually straightforward, this is clear evidence that they are not always so!