What Does a Landlord Pay for in a NNN Lease?

strip mall in a suburban area

Navigating the world of commercial real estate requires a thorough understanding of various lease agreements, one of which is the Triple Net, or NNN, Lease. This type of lease can significantly impact both landlords and tenants, making it crucial to understand its ins and outs. The NNN lease, if not properly understood, can lead to unexpected financial implications for both parties involved.

What is a NNN Lease?

A Triple Net Lease (NNN) is a commercial lease agreement in which the tenant agrees to pay the property expenses in addition to the rent. This arrangement differentiates it from other lease types, such as gross leases or modified gross leases. In these other types, the landlord typically bears the responsibility for various property expenses. In a Triple Net Lease, however, these responsibilities shift to the tenant, altering the financial dynamics of the lease agreement.

Responsibilities of a Tenant in a NNN Lease

Under the terms of a Triple Net Lease, tenants assume responsibility for three primary property expenses, collectively known as the ‘three nets’:

  1. Property Taxes: Tenants are responsible for paying the property taxes for the duration of their lease.
  2. Insurance: Tenants are required to cover the insurance costs for the property. This includes liability insurance and, in some cases, may also extend to property and casualty insurance.
  3. Maintenance: This includes regular upkeep and repairs necessary for the property. Tenants are expected to maintain the property in good working condition.

Each NNN lease can have specific nuances, and the exact nature of these responsibilities may vary from lease to lease. Therefore, understanding the specific terms and conditions of the NNN lease is crucial for both tenants and landlords to ensure a mutually beneficial agreement.

What Does a Landlord Pay for in a NNN Lease?

In a Triple Net Lease, the landlord’s financial responsibilities are significantly reduced, providing them with a more predictable income stream. However, the landlord is not entirely free from financial obligations.

While the tenant usually covers property taxes, insurance, and maintenance, there are significant areas of expense that remain with the landlord. Here’s a deeper look into the financial responsibilities a landlord typically retains in a NNN lease:

  1. Structural Repairs and Replacements: Major repairs or replacements that affect the property’s structural integrity often fall to the landlord. This can include foundational issues, roof replacements, and major system failures like plumbing or electrical infrastructure. These are typically large-scale issues that go beyond routine maintenance and repair.
  2. Property Management: Although the tenant handles most day-to-day maintenance, the landlord is usually responsible for the broader property management. This includes managing lease agreements, overseeing property performance, and ensuring compliance with real estate laws and regulations.
  3. Vacancy Costs: During periods of vacancy, the landlord is typically responsible for the costs associated with maintaining the property. While a tenant’s exit will also halt their contribution towards the ‘three nets,’ the landlord will need to cover these expenses until a new tenant is found.
  4. Costs Related to Lease Negotiations: This includes costs associated with marketing the property, sourcing and vetting potential tenants, and legal costs associated with drafting and negotiating lease agreements.
  5. Capital Expenditures: Landlords often are responsible for large-scale property improvements or renovations intended to increase the property’s value or extend its useful life.

Remember, the specific division of costs in a NNN lease can vary and will be determined by the lease agreement itself. Thus, landlords and tenants need to scrutinize the terms carefully and negotiate a lease that aligns with their financial capabilities and risk tolerance.

Negotiating a NNN Lease

Negotiating the terms of a NNN lease is a delicate dance. Clear communication and understanding of lease terms are paramount. Tenants may push for caps on certain expenses or ask for a lower base rent to offset the additional costs. Landlords, on the other hand, will want to ensure that the property is adequately maintained and insured, and that the rent is fair. Finding common ground requires a deep understanding of the property, the market, and each party’s needs and capabilities.

Pros and Cons of a NNN Lease

A NNN lease presents distinct advantages and disadvantages for both parties. For landlords, the benefits include a more predictable income stream and less responsibility for property management. However, they may have to settle for lower rent rates compared to other lease types and bear the risk of vacancies.

Tenants, on the other hand, might enjoy lower base rents and have more control over the property, as they’re responsible for maintenance. Yet, they also bear the risk of unexpected costs like tax hikes or major repairs.

In conclusion, a NNN lease can be an effective tool for both landlords and tenants, but only if the terms are clear and the potential costs and benefits are fully understood.

Common Misconceptions about NNN Leases

NNN leases, while popular, are often misunderstood. Here are a few misconceptions to set straight:

  1. NNN Leases Favor Landlords Exclusively: It’s true that NNN leases shift many costs to the tenant, but the terms can often be negotiated to create a fair arrangement. Tenants may benefit from lower base rents and more control over the property.
  2. Landlords Have No Responsibilities: While the landlord’s duties are reduced under a NNN lease, they are not eliminated. They’re still typically responsible for structural repairs, property management, vacancy costs, lease negotiation costs, and capital expenditures.
  3. NNN Leases are Standard: There’s a wide range of NNN leases, and terms can vary significantly. Each lease should be carefully reviewed and negotiated based on the unique circumstances of the tenant, landlord, and property.


Understanding the intricacies of a NNN lease, including what a landlord pays for, is crucial in commercial real estate. While the lease does shift many responsibilities to the tenant, the landlord isn’t completely off the financial hook. Landlords have to grapple with structural repairs, vacancy costs, property management, and more. Negotiating a NNN lease requires a keen understanding of the property, the market conditions, and each party’s financial capabilities.


To wrap up, let’s address some common questions about NNN leases:

  1. Who typically pays for HVAC replacement in a NNN lease? This can vary based on the lease agreement, but major system replacements, like HVAC, are often the landlord’s responsibility.
  2. Are NNN leases negotiable? Yes, the specific terms of a NNN lease, including the allocation of costs, can and should be negotiated based on the circumstances of the tenant, landlord, and property.
  3. What happens to the NNN costs when the property is vacant? During periods of vacancy, the landlord typically covers the NNN costs until a new tenant is found.

In the end, whether you’re a landlord or tenant, understanding the specifics of a NNN lease is crucial. And remember, when in doubt, seek advice from a real estate professional.

Stephen Hachey

Mr. Hachey opened his real estate law practice in Tampa, Florida in 2007. He is admitted to the Florida Bar and is also a graduate of Florida State University, earning his law degree in 2005. He is also a current member of the National and Florida Board of Realtors, the Florida Bar (Bar number 15322), and a Circuit Civil Mediator in the state of Florida.

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