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August 24, 2023

What’s the Real Cost of Missing a Critical Date in Your Lease Data?

Losing sight of critical dates or mismanaging lease encumbrances can lead to a domino effect of negative repercussions for CRE property owners and investors. To safeguard against unnecessary financial penalties, CRE teams need to have a comprehensive strategy for keeping track of all of the key lease dates and concepts across a portfolio.

The Cost of Missed Critical Dates Featured Image

In 2023 (and likely in 2024), CRE professionals are facing an unfamiliar market, impacting aspects such as investor capital and downsizing trends among clients. Despite these unexpected conditions, forward-looking teams like Lionstone Investments, Nuveen, RXR, and MetroNational have partnered with Prophia to enhance data management, prevent portfolio management errors, and boost ROI.

However, it's crucial to understand the repercussions of mistakes in today's complex CRE landscape, such as missing critical dates or incurring monetary penalties. This article will delve into the potential costs of such errors in the current CRE environment.

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The Cost of Missing Critical Dates & Lease Encumbrances
Types of Critical Dates in CRE
How to Avoid Missing Key Lease Dates

The Cost of Missing Critical Dates & Encumbrances in Lease Data

Tell us if this scenario sounds at all familiar. After a cumbersome due diligence period, and a gauntlet of legalese and financial documents, your portfolio successfully acquires a new lease only to find out the agreement contains a missed, time-sensitive encumbrance or tenant condition that poses challenges for your team’s portfolio strategy.

Missed encumbrances or missed critical dates are not something to be taken lightly, particularly when demand for certain commercial assets is low, and availability is high. But what happens when a critical date is missed in portfolio management or renewal negotiations? Unfortunately, the ramifications can be longer lasting than a significant financial penalty.

Liquidated damages clauses and monetary penalties.

Encumbrances like ROFR, ROFOs, and tenant options are common but can complicate portfolio management, especially if they delay lease commencement and income generation. Tenant contracts may require landlords to resolve encumbrances before occupancy, with failure leading to a liquidated damages penalty. This penalty, often a percentage of rent, can be substantial in commercial real estate, straining relationships with good tenants as well as finances.

If non-compliance continues for an extended period of time, a landlord or property owner could be required to pay fees or compensate the tenant for any financial losses incurred throughout the time of the mismanagement. This additional financial burden makes proper management of critical dates and lease encumbrances incredibly important for a tenant and landlord’s business success. 

Missed opportunities.

Failing to effectively manage critical dates can also cause landlords and landlord reps to bungle negotiations of more favorable lease terms. What’s more, landlords and property managers who repeatedly fail to manage critical dates and negotiation with existing tenants run the risk of introducing inconsistent lease terms into tenant leases and struggling to enforce the lease agreements, secure higher rents, and even attract desirable tenants. 

Damaged tenant relationships.

In addition to liquidated damages clauses, the impact of missing critical dates can compound, damaging client relationships and a firm’s reputation over time. Property managers and landlord representatives who miss critical dates and encumbrance details can cause tenant and landlord dissatisfaction and ultimately result in vacancies or lost business opportunities.

Loss of investor capital.

As well as damaged relationships with tenants and landlords, teams who miss key dates or encumbrances can even cause investor confidence to wane and experience challenges securing investor capital. What’s more, damaged investor relations or tenant relations can really impede investment opportunities in the future. This can eventually cause brokers and property managers to have challenges securing high quality tenants, create tighter lender conditions, put asset sales at risk, and inflate the perception of risk that ultimately exacerbate funding challenges.

Types of Critical Dates in CRE Leases

If you work or invest in commercial real estate, no doubt you are familiar with the level of complexity contained within a single lease. From encumbrances to tenant options, even the most standard leases can come with baked in legalese and tenant exceptions, making data management incredibly tricky—especially when doing so manually.

Many tenant conditions require landlords and property managers to adhere to certain contractual obligations before or within a specified time period. And this can get incredibly complicated if the leasing or property management team is keeping track of these dates by hand or in disparate calendars.

Encumbrances prior to lease commencement.

As we mentioned, some critical dates stipulate that a landlord or property owner must clear any encumbrances prior to the tenant taking possession of the space. If these critical dates are missed, this can put the landlord-tenant relationship in a tenuous position from the very beginning of the lease. This can make renewal negotiations challenging and even cause tenants to terminate their lease early.

Encumbrances throughout the duration of a CRE lease.

Some tenants might specify critical dates throughout the life of their lease to ensure the property manager, landlord, or a third party address and resolve any encumbrances impacting the tenants’ ability to use the space as their business requires.

A great example of this type of critical date tied to an encumbrance is in the case of a lien. A lease might require the landlord to clear any liens on the property within a certain time period. The impact of failing to clear a lien could result in the tenant’s ability to terminate their lease. 

Lease renewal and encumbrances.

Acquisitions are very important for portfolio performance, but renewals can also play an equally important role in portfolio ROI. Renewals can also sustain a commercial portfolio’s much-needed income when traditional revenue streams are slow.

So in today’s market, it’s incredibly important for property owners and property management teams to track renewal dates closely and leverage tenant options to encourage businesses to continue their existing lease. 

CRE lease termination and encumbrances.

In the event of lease termination, the lease might outline a process for the removal of tenant-installed improvements or alterations. Encumbrances related to these alterations might need to be addressed before the termination date, with critical dates specified for the completion of any necessary actions.

How to Avoid Missing Key Dates in Your CRE Leases

If time is money, then the CRE industry is potentially losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on antiquated data management practices. Things like unstructured lease data, copious spreadsheets, disparate calendars, and outdated software all take a CRE teams’ focus away from strategic tasks, and cause them to lose sight of critical dates, rights and options, and their negotiation leverage.

To avoid missed key dates or fortify their CRE strategy, commercial firms must learn to use technology to centralize and standardize lease data as part of the next generation of CRE business intelligence practices. And one of the most effective ways to do this is with vertical AI.

Since 2019, Prophia has created the most comprehensive database of CRE data to provide leading firms with the means to unlock ROI opportunities in their portfolio data and make informed decisions in every area of their business tasks. By automating simple tasks like lease abstraction, portfolio reporting, and rent roll, CRE teams that learn to adopt a vertical AI solution, like Prophia, stand to hold a competitive advantage over firms who continue to track critical dates and encumbrances manually across their entire portfolio.

With the ability to automate all of your clients’ critical dates, track encumbrances and rent steps throughout the lease lifecycle, CRE firms can ensure their portfolio income and client relationships are all successfully managed.

If any of these data challenges sound at all familiar, reach out to a member of our team to learn how vertical AI can make a difference in your CRE strategy no matter what the market throws at you.


Hannah Overhiser

Hannah is Prophia's Content Marketing Manager and a seasoned marketer. Her career began in eCommerce consulting with a focus on code testing. This technical expertise transferred seamlessly to SEO and she started working agency-side as an SEO and Content Strategist. Today, her home is Prophia, and she puts her...

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