I am negotiating a small office space for a national tenant and the local rep asks me, "What are CAM fees?". Sounds easy to answer, and in fact, it used to be, but in today's real estate market this somewhat straight forward term has become a catch all phrase.
CAM used to be very standard and meant to cover Common Area Maintenance, but what it has now become is a term that encompasses any cost the owner would like to pass along to the Tenant. What this does is create a very open interpretation of what items should be included in this fee. Leases should incorporate an entire section explaining what costs will be allocated as "CAM", what items will be excluded from CAM, and how the included costs will be managed. In other words, perhaps the janitorial is included in CAM and the owner is responsible for the janitorial service, then that cost needs to also be maintained as in line with the area costs of similar services. This protects the Tenant from the landlord hiring someone at $10 and hour to clean the premises and billing the tenant as $100 per hour.
Just be very cognizant of this section, which is usually labeled "Operating Expense" , and make sure to question any portion that you may not agree with. Remember, once you sign, the deal is set in stone!
A tenant rep is an real estate broker who represents a tenant in a lease renewal and/or alternatives to new locations in the market place. Why do you need a tenant rep to renew your lease? Because yo have been in that lease for the last three years and the market has changed, the inventory has changed, the pricing and terms in the market have changed, and only a commercial real estate professional is going to be able to have a handle on those changes and be able to aid you in getting the best possible outcome to the renewal or new space question.
The best part is that in 99% or the circumstances, the tenant rep will be compensation by the landlord/broker of the final space you occupy. Who doesn't like free consultations?
It's never over...