Named a leader in the 2023 IDC MarketScape report for Worldwide SaaS and Cloud-enabled Lease Accounting Software.
Find out why »

Understanding critical dates for real estate leases

Understanding critical dates for real estate leases


When it comes to managing real estate leases, being aware of critical dates is essential. These dates can have a significant impact on lease accounting, and failure to keep track of them can lead to costly mistakes. In this post, we’ll explore the importance of critical dates in lease management and how our Real Estate Manager can help make the process more manageable.

What are critical dates?

Critical dates are specific milestones within a lease agreement that can affect the financial and operational aspects of the lease. These dates are important because they often determine when certain actions must be taken, such as exercising renewal options, providing notice of termination, or completing maintenance obligations.

Some common critical dates in real estate leases include:

  1. Lease commencement date: The date when the lease term officially begins. This is typically when the tenant takes possession of the property and starts paying rent.
  2. Rent commencement date: The date when the tenant is required to begin paying rent. This can sometimes differ from the lease commencement date, particularly in cases where there is a rent-free period or a phased rent commencement schedule.
  3. Lease expiration date: The date when the lease term ends. This is a critical date for both landlords and tenants, as it determines when the tenant must vacate the property and when the landlord can market the space to new tenants.
  4. Renewal option deadline: The date by which the tenant must notify the landlord of their intention to renew the lease. Missing this deadline can result in the loss of the renewal option, potentially leading to increased rent or the need to find a new location.
  5. Termination option deadline: The date by which the tenant must notify the landlord if they wish to terminate the lease early. Failing to provide timely notice can result in penalties or the inability to terminate the lease.
  6. Rent review dates: Dates when rent adjustments, such as increases based on market rates or inflation, are scheduled to occur. These are important for both landlords and tenants to track, as they can impact cash flow and budgeting.
  7. Maintenance and repair deadlines: Dates by which certain maintenance or repair tasks must be completed by the tenant or landlord. Timely completion of these tasks can help avoid disputes and maintain the value of the property.

Why you should manage critical dates

There are several reasons to manage critical dates that can drive down your costs. 

  1. Avoid default and penalties: Effective management of critical dates, like payment due dates and notice periods, helps companies comply with lease obligations on time, preventing default charges, penalties, and extra fees.
  2. Negotiate early lease renewals: Proactive management of critical dates enables companies to start discussions for lease renewals early. This allows them to negotiate better terms, such as lower rental rates, reduced escalation clauses, or additional concessions, resulting in significant cost savings.
  3. Consider cost-effective relocations: Tracking critical dates related to lease expirations helps companies plan for potential relocations in advance. By considering available options and negotiating favorable terms with landlords, companies can find more suitable or cost-effective premises, leading to cost savings through improved lease terms, reduced rent, or better space utilization.
  4. Optimizing lease termination: Managing critical dates allows companies to strategically evaluate lease termination options. By identifying underutilized or non-strategic properties and terminating leases accordingly, companies can avoid unnecessary rent expenses, maintenance costs, and associated charges.
  5. Consider opportunities to restructure leases: Tracking critical dates empowers companies to assess lease agreements and identify opportunities for restructuring. They can negotiate changes to lease terms, such as rent reductions, lease term adjustments, or modifications in space requirements, to align with their current needs. This optimization can result in cost savings and efficient resource allocation.

How critical dates affect lease accounting

When it comes to real estate lease accounting, critical dates play a significant role in determining how leases are reported on financial statements. Under the lease accounting standards ASC 842 and IFRS 16, lessees are required to recognize most leases on their balance sheets as both a right-of-use asset and a lease liability. The calculation of these amounts depends on several factors, including the lease term, renewal options, and rent escalation clauses, all of which are tied to critical dates.

For example, if a tenant has a renewal option in their lease, the lease term used for accounting purposes may need to include the renewal period if it is reasonably certain that the option will be exercised. This can affect the calculation of the lease liability and the right-of-use asset, potentially leading to a higher balance sheet impact.

Similarly, rent review dates can impact lease liability and right-of-use asset calculations because they determine when rent escalations occur. If a lease has multiple rent review dates with varying rent increases, this can create complexity in the lease accounting process, requiring accurate tracking of critical dates to ensure proper financial reporting.

Simplifying the process with Real Estate Manager

Given the importance of critical dates in lease management and accounting, it’s essential to have a system in place to effectively track and manage these dates. Real estate lease administration software like our Real Estate Manager can help simplify this process by providing a centralized platform for managing all lease-related information, including critical dates.

Get a demo of LeaseAccelerator today.