The goal for the NRTA conference is to provide educational sessions that will allow attendees to negotiate stronger leases, and to ensure that existing lease language is working to comply with lease obligations. Over 400 real estate lease professionals came together recently to do just that. For three days they worked together to better understand the challenges of protecting their respective organization’s commercial lease investments in an environment that is challenged with a changing face of real estate development.

To keep current on evolving trends and issues, NRTA continues to evaluate its curriculum and add new courses deemed appropriate for professionals who are tasked with frontline responsibility for complicated lease practices such as co-tenancy. This year, conference planners added twelve new courses. A healthy portion of conference focus was on remedies available under the lease, which may include the right to pay reduced rent, go-dark, and even terminate the lease. Loud and clear, participants evaluated sound lease strategies such as co-tenancy practices that can mean millions of dollars in savings to a tenant.

Another popular educational track dealt with settling audits. The current economic environment, including potential bankruptcy filings, has made it more difficult to work with landlords to resolve and settle audits. In recent past practices it was not unheard of to receive a refund check from the landlord as reimbursement of audited overcharges. Those days are now few and far between. Tenants have to come up with more creative approaches in order to receive credits or concessions as reimbursement of audit overcharges.

“ As we believe the NRTA is a great professional resource, once again the Burlington team will attend the conference to partake in the diverse curriculum offered at the conference that only NRTA can deliver. The curriculum provides important insight for new and seasoned Lease Administration professionals.”  

~Mike Shanahan, SVP Real Estate – Burlington Stores

Fresh ideas, proven best practices, and pragmatic “roll up your sleeves” bottom-line thinking were cornerstones for this year’s education platform. Stepping back for a perspective, there is a reason that the most successful companies concerned with real estate portfolio management send their occupancy professionals to this annual event. With the ever-changing environment trending toward mixed-use properties, conference participants were encouraged to take the time to understand the specifics of their lease before accepting invoices. A diligent lease review may bring a little more savings to the table. There is a chance that you as a tenant are being billed for costs that might not be valid based on the definitions in your lease.

The NRTA conference continues to appeal to a healthy blend of industry veterans as well as attracting people new to the field. Coordinators report that over one hundred forty first-time attendees participated in the conference, while post-conference questionnaires once again confirmed a good percentage of attendees had over nine years of experience within the field. This diverse mix of attendees is healthy for the NRTA.

The value of education has expanded far beyond the traditional retail business group.  Commercial tenants representing many other business categories now participate in NRTA education programs. In fact, thirty-three new companies have joined NRTA ranks over recent months, and many of them are from non-retail business segments.

Before discovering the NRTA’s best practice forums, many tenants treated their real estate portfolio management very informally without a designed lease administration function. In fact, they often just paid what was billed by the landlord without any reviews…basically throwing money away. There are still many tenants who have yet to experience the NRTA education resource, and we are working to remedy that.

I also foresee the day that not only tenants but also landlords will benefit directly from NRTA training and best practice education. The ultimate bottom line is that tenants and landlords need each other to be successful as our industry explores new ways of blending the different types of businesses.

This is the thinking behind a ground-breaking panel discussion NRTA hosted at this past conference, where several landlords and tenants met to discuss how they need each other as they collectively build new real estate leasing rules that will govern best practices for the next generation.

by Paul Kinney, NRTA Executive Director