Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Are you considering investing in Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)? It’s important to understand the legal considerations that come with this type of investment. In this article, we will explore the legal aspects surrounding REITs, providing you with a comprehensive and exhaustive guide on the subject. With the help of our experienced commercial real estate lawyer, Jeremy Eveland, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to make informed investment decisions. So, whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting out, read on to discover the legal nuances associated with REITs and why a consultation with a lawyer might be in your best interest.

Choosing the Right Legal Structure for REITs

Investing in commercial real estate can be a lucrative venture, and one way to do so is through a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). REITs are unique entities that allow investors to pool their resources to invest in a diverse portfolio of real estate properties. However, before diving into the world of REITs, it’s essential to understand the different legal structures available and how they can impact your investments.

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Types of legal structures for REITs

When setting up a REIT, it’s crucial to consider the legal structure that best suits your needs. The most common structures include corporation, partnership, and limited liability company (LLC). Each structure has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s explore them in more detail.

  • Corporation: Setting up a REIT as a corporation provides limited liability protection to shareholders. This structure is often preferred due to its simplicity and familiarity. However, corporations are subject to double taxation, meaning that both the REIT itself and its shareholders are taxed on any income distributed as dividends.

  • Partnership: A partnership structure offers flexibility and pass-through taxation, meaning that the income and losses of the REIT flow through to the individual partners’ tax returns. This structure can be beneficial for REITs with a smaller number of investors. However, it’s important to note that partners have unlimited personal liability for the REIT’s obligations.

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): The LLC structure combines the limited liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a partnership. This structure has gained popularity due to its flexibility in management and operations. However, keep in mind that not all states allow for the formation of REITs as LLCs.

Factors to consider when choosing a legal structure

When deciding on the legal structure for your REIT, several factors should be taken into consideration. First and foremost, the number and relationship between the investors play a significant role. Are you planning to have a few large institutional investors, or will your investor base consist of numerous smaller individual investors?

You should also consider the desired level of control and management flexibility. Some structures provide more autonomy to the REIT’s management team, while others may require more involvement from investors. Analyzing the tax implications is crucial as well, as it can greatly impact the overall profitability of the REIT.

Lastly, it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney specializing in real estate law to evaluate the legal and regulatory requirements specific to your jurisdiction. They can provide invaluable guidance based on your unique circumstances and goals.

Advantages and disadvantages of different legal structures

Each legal structure for a REIT comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at the key considerations for each structure:



  • Limited liability protection for shareholders
  • Familiarity and simplicity in operation
  • Ease of transferability of shares


  • Double taxation on income distributed as dividends
  • Less flexibility in terms of management and governance structure



  • Pass-through taxation, avoiding double taxation
  • Flexibility in management structure
  • Suitable for a smaller number of investors


  • Unlimited personal liability for partners
  • Potential challenges in decision-making with a large number of partners

Limited Liability Company (LLC)


  • Limited liability protection for members
  • Pass-through taxation
  • Flexibility in management and operations


  • Not available as an option in all states
  • Potential complexities in membership structure

It’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate these advantages and disadvantages in the context of your specific investment goals and circumstances. Seeking advice from a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate through the complexities of these legal structures and make informed decisions for your REIT.

Compliance with Securities Laws

When setting up and operating a REIT, compliance with securities laws is of utmost importance to ensure the protection of investors and maintain transparency in the financial markets. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has established regulations and registration requirements specifically tailored to REITs.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations for REITs

The SEC plays a vital role in regulating the securities industry and safeguarding investors’ interests. REITs are subject to certain specific regulations under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These regulations are designed to ensure adequate disclosure of information regarding the REIT’s financial condition, business operations, and investment strategies.

REITs are required to file registration statements and periodic reports with the SEC. These filings contain crucial information such as financial statements, management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations (MD&A), and disclosures regarding material changes or risks that may affect the investors’ decision-making.

Registration requirements for REITs

To offer and sell securities to the public, a REIT must register its securities with the SEC, unless an exemption from registration applies. The registration process involves filing a comprehensive registration statement with the SEC, including detailed information about the REIT’s business, management, financials, and investment objectives.

The registration statement is subject to review by the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, ensuring compliance with applicable securities laws. Upon successful review, the REIT becomes a registered entity and can proceed with offering and selling its securities to the public.

Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Learn more about the Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) here.

Periodic reporting and disclosure obligations

Once registered, REITs must adhere to ongoing reporting and disclosure obligations. This includes filing annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and other periodic reports such as current reports on Form 8-K to disclose material events or changes that could impact investors’ perception of the REIT.

These reports require detailed financial disclosures, including balance sheets, income statements, statements of cash flows, and comprehensive notes to the financial statements. Additionally, the management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) section provides investors with valuable insights into the REIT’s financial performance, changes in operations, and risks.

Securities fraud and insider trading considerations

Compliance with securities laws also extends to preventing fraudulent activities and insider trading. REITs must implement robust internal controls, maintain accurate books and records, and institute policies and procedures to prevent unauthorized access to non-public information.

Insider trading, which involves using material non-public information for personal gain, is strictly prohibited. REITs must establish procedures to prevent insider trading and educate their employees, officers, and directors about their responsibilities and legal obligations. Regular monitoring and enforcement of these policies are essential to ensure compliance and maintain the integrity of the REIT’s operations.

By adhering to securities laws and regulations, REITs can establish trust and credibility with investors, paving the way for successful fundraising and long-term growth.

Tax Considerations for REITs

One of the primary advantages of structuring a real estate investment as a REIT is the beneficial tax treatment. However, to enjoy these tax advantages, REITs must satisfy certain qualification requirements outlined in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

Qualification requirements for REITs under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC)

To qualify as a REIT, an entity must meet several specific requirements set forth in the IRC. First and foremost, at least 75% of the REIT’s total assets must be invested in real estate, cash, or government securities. Additionally, at least 75% of the REIT’s gross income must be generated from real estate-related activities, rental income, or interest from mortgages or securities backed by real estate.

Another crucial requirement is that the REIT must distribute at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders annually. By doing so, the REIT avoids corporate income tax on its distributed profits, and the shareholders are responsible for paying taxes on the received dividends.

Tax benefits and advantages of REIT status

REITs enjoy certain tax benefits that are not available to other types of entities. Some of these advantages include:

  • Pass-through taxation: Similar to partnerships, REITs are pass-through entities, meaning that their income is not subject to corporate-level taxation. Instead, the income is allocated to the individual shareholders, who are responsible for paying taxes based on their individual tax rates.

  • No entity-level tax: Unlike traditional corporations, REITs are generally exempt from federal income tax at the entity level. This allows the REIT to distribute a significant portion of its income to the shareholders without being subject to additional taxation.

  • Potential deductions: REITs can deduct qualifying expenses, such as depreciation, interest, and property taxes, from their taxable income. These deductions help reduce the overall tax liability, making REIT investments even more attractive to investors.

  • Capital gains treatment: When a REIT sells a property, the gain on the sale may be subject to capital gains tax rates, which are typically lower than ordinary income tax rates. This can result in significant tax savings for both the REIT and its shareholders.

Distribution requirements and tax implications

As mentioned earlier, REITs are required to distribute at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders annually. Failure to meet this distribution requirement may result in the REIT losing its favorable tax treatment and becoming subject to corporate income tax.

For the shareholders, the distributed income is generally taxed as ordinary income, subject to their individual tax rates. However, a portion of the distributed income may be classified as return of capital, reducing the shareholder’s tax liability in the current year. Return of capital distributions are generally treated as a reduction in the shareholder’s cost basis in the REIT shares.

Potential tax pitfalls and challenges for REITs

While REITs offer significant tax advantages, there are potential pitfalls that need to be considered. One such challenge is the application of the “prohibited transactions” rules. If a REIT engages in certain types of frequent or substantial real estate sales, it may jeopardize its qualification as a REIT and become subject to corporate-level taxation.

Additionally, REITs should carefully navigate the tax implications of foreign investments and non-US shareholders. International tax treaties, withholding requirements, and other complex tax regulations can significantly impact the tax efficiency of REIT investments in foreign markets.

It’s essential to engage a qualified tax advisor with experience in REIT taxation to ensure compliance with the IRC requirements, maximize tax benefits, and effectively navigate the potential challenges.

Real Estate Acquisitions and Investments

Acquiring and managing real estate properties is at the core of a REIT’s business. To ensure successful investments and maximize returns, careful consideration must be given to various legal aspects, including due diligence, purchase and sale agreements, financing, and property management.

Due diligence in commercial real estate acquisitions

Thorough due diligence is crucial when acquiring commercial real estate properties. It involves conducting a comprehensive examination of the property’s financial, legal, and physical characteristics to assess its potential risks and rewards.

Financial due diligence entails analyzing the property’s income and expense statements, rent rolls, leases, and other financial documents. This helps evaluate the property’s cash flow, occupancy rates, and potential for future growth.

Legal due diligence involves reviewing various legal aspects, such as title documents, property surveys, zoning and land use restrictions, environmental liabilities, and any potential legal disputes or liens on the property. Engaging experienced real estate attorneys and professionals is essential to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.

Physical due diligence includes inspections of the property’s physical condition, including structural elements, mechanical systems, and potential environmental concerns. Evaluating these aspects helps identify any necessary repairs, maintenance, or compliance issues that may impact the property’s value or future profitability.

Negotiating and drafting purchase and sale agreements for REITs

Once due diligence is completed, the next step is negotiating and drafting a purchase and sale agreement (PSA). This legally binding contract outlines the terms and conditions of the transaction, including the purchase price, payment terms, title transfer, and other important provisions.

Negotiating a PSA requires careful consideration of various elements, such as purchase price adjustments, contingencies, representations and warranties, closing conditions, and any specific provisions tailored to the unique needs of the parties involved.

Engaging a skilled real estate attorney is crucial during the negotiation and drafting process. They can ensure that the PSA accurately reflects the parties’ intentions, protects their rights, and mitigates potential risks or disputes that may arise during the transaction.

Financing considerations for REIT acquisitions

Financing plays a significant role in REIT acquisitions, and there are several financing options to consider. Traditional options include commercial mortgage loans, where the property serves as collateral, and equity financing, which involves raising capital through the issuance of REIT shares.

REITs may also explore alternative financing options such as mezzanine financing, sale-leaseback transactions, or utilizing private equity or institutional investors. Each option comes with its own advantages and challenges, and careful analysis of the financial implications is crucial to make informed decisions.

When negotiating financing arrangements, it’s important to consider the terms and conditions, interest rates, mortgage covenants, repayment schedules, and potential prepayment penalties. Engaging experienced finance professionals and attorneys can help navigate the complexities of these arrangements and secure the most favorable financing options for the REIT.

Property management and leasing issues for REITs

Effective property management and leasing strategies are essential for the success of a REIT. Establishing strong relationships with tenants, ensuring proper maintenance and repairs, and optimizing occupancy rates are crucial factors that directly impact the profitability of the investment.

Property management considerations include lease administration, rent collection, maintenance and repairs, tenant relations, and compliance with local regulations and building codes. Engaging experienced property managers who understand the unique challenges of commercial real estate can help streamline the management process and enhance the value of the REIT’s investment portfolio.

Leasing issues are also critical to consider, as they directly impact the REIT’s profitability and long-term stability. Negotiating commercial leases requires expertise in assessing tenant suitability, rental rates, lease terms, and concessions. Concepts like triple-net leases, which shift certain expenses to the tenant, may provide advantages for the REIT but require careful structuring to protect the REIT’s interests.

Maintaining a proactive approach to property management and leasing helps minimize vacancies, maximize rental income, and foster positive tenant relationships, all of which contribute to the long-term success of the REIT.

Risk Management and Liability Protection

Operating in the real estate industry comes with inherent risks and potential liabilities. To protect the REIT’s interests and mitigate potential legal challenges, implementing risk management strategies and ensuring appropriate liability protections are essential considerations.

Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Liabilities and potential risks for REITs

REITs face various potential liabilities, including contractual disputes, property-related claims, environmental liability, and potential breach of fiduciary duties. Identifying and understanding these risks is crucial to develop appropriate risk management strategies.

Contractual disputes can arise from disagreements with tenants, contractors, vendors, or other parties involved in the property’s operation. Adequate documentation, clear contractual language, and effective dispute resolution mechanisms can help minimize the impact of these disputes on the REIT’s profitability.

Property-related claims can stem from accidents or injuries that occur on the property, property damage caused by negligence or natural disasters, or violations of local building codes and regulations. Ensuring proper insurance coverage, conducting regular inspections and maintenance, and implementing effective risk management protocols can help mitigate these risks.

Environmental liability is another significant concern for REITs, as the ownership and operation of real estate properties can potentially result in liability for environmental contamination. Conducting thorough environmental assessments and complying with all applicable environmental laws and regulations is crucial to manage and mitigate these risks.

Structuring asset ownership to limit liability exposure

Liability protection is a critical aspect of risk management for REITs. Structuring the ownership of assets in a manner that limits personal liability exposure can provide additional protection for the REIT and its shareholders.

Utilizing entities such as limited partnerships or LLCs can help shield individual investors and officers from personal liability arising from the REIT’s operations. By separating the assets and liabilities of the REIT from the personal assets of the investors, the risk of personal financial loss is minimized.

It’s important to consult with an experienced real estate attorney to determine the most suitable structure for asset ownership based on the specific circumstances of the REIT and its investors. The attorney can provide guidance on structuring options, liability protection strategies, and the potential tax implications associated with each approach.

Insurance coverage considerations for REITs

Obtaining appropriate insurance coverage is a crucial aspect of risk management for REITs. Adequate insurance policies can provide financial protection in case of property damage, accidents, legal disputes, or other unforeseen events.

Some of the common insurance policies for REITs include property insurance, general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance. Depending on the nature of the REIT’s operations and the specific risks involved, additional specialized coverage may be necessary.

Properly evaluating the potential risks faced by the REIT and engaging insurance professionals with expertise in the real estate industry can help identify the most appropriate insurance policies and ensure adequate coverage. Regular reviews of coverage and policy terms are also essential to keep the insurance in line with the REIT’s evolving needs and risk profile.

Litigation and dispute resolution strategies for REITs

Despite careful planning and risk management, disputes and legal challenges may arise in the course of a REIT’s operations. Having effective litigation and dispute resolution strategies in place can help minimize the impact of these challenges on the REIT’s operations and financial stability.

Engaging experienced real estate attorneys who specialize in litigation and dispute resolution is essential. They can provide guidance and representation in case of contractual disputes, property-related claims, tenant-landlord disputes, or other legal challenges.

Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, can also be valuable tools to resolve disputes without resorting to litigation. These methods often offer a more time-efficient and cost-effective approach, allowing the parties to reach mutually beneficial resolutions outside of the courtroom.

Implementing proactive risk management measures, maintaining thorough documentation, and addressing potential disputes promptly and professionally can help protect the REIT’s interests and reputation, ensuring a stable and successful investment platform.

Environmental and Regulatory Compliance

Real estate investments, including those held by REITs, are subject to various environmental laws and regulations. Ensuring compliance with these regulations is essential to mitigate potential liabilities, maintain the integrity of the REIT’s investments, and contribute to sustainable and responsible business practices.

Compliance with environmental laws and regulations

Environmental compliance encompasses a range of legal requirements aimed at safeguarding the environment and public health. Key regulations include those related to air quality, water management, waste disposal, hazardous material handling, and endangered species protection.

REITs must conduct thorough environmental due diligence to identify potential environmental issues associated with the properties they acquire or own. Conducting environmental assessments, including Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments, helps uncover any existing or potential contamination issues, allowing for informed decision-making and risk management.

Once a property is acquired, REITs must comply with ongoing obligations related to waste management, water usage, air emissions, and other environmental concerns. Engaging environmental consultants and attorneys with expertise in real estate law can assist in developing and implementing appropriate strategies to ensure compliance.

Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

Site assessments and remediation for REIT properties

Environmental site assessments provide critical information about the historical use of a property and identify any potential environmental liabilities. Phase I assessments are typically the first step, involving a review of historical records, interviews with current and past property owners, and a physical inspection of the property.

If potential environmental concerns are identified during the Phase I assessment, a Phase II assessment may be necessary. This involves collecting additional soil, groundwater, or air samples to assess the presence and extent of contamination.

If contamination is confirmed, remediation efforts may be required to mitigate the impacts and ensure compliance with environmental regulations. Remediation can range from simple soil or groundwater remediation to complex, long-term cleanup processes. Engaging environmental consultants and attorneys experienced in environmental remediation is vital to navigate these challenges effectively.

Permits, licenses, and zoning considerations

REITs must also ensure compliance with various permits, licenses, and zoning requirements applicable to their properties. These requirements may vary depending on the property’s location and the proposed use of the property.

Permits and licenses are typically required for activities such as construction, renovations, hazardous waste handling, water and air pollution control, and other property-specific activities. REITs must adhere to the application and renewal processes, and comply with ongoing reporting and monitoring requirements associated with these permits and licenses.

Zoning considerations are crucial as well, as they dictate the allowable use of the property and any applicable restrictions or limitations. REITs must be aware of local zoning regulations and obtain the necessary approvals before engaging in any activities that may deviate from the permitted use. Failure to comply with zoning requirements can result in fines, forced closures, or legal disputes.

Engaging land use attorneys and consultants with local expertise is essential to ensure compliance with permits, licenses, and zoning requirements specific to the properties owned or acquired by the REIT. These professionals can guide the REIT through the complex regulatory landscape, help secure the necessary approvals, and identify any potential challenges in advance.

Sustainability and green building initiatives for REITs

With the rising global awareness of environmental sustainability, REITs have an opportunity to embrace green building practices and contribute to a more sustainable future. Implementing sustainable initiatives not only benefits the environment but also enhances the marketability and long-term value of the REIT’s properties.

Some sustainable initiatives for REITs may include energy-efficiency measures, water conservation strategies, waste management practices, and incorporating renewable energy sources into property operations. These initiatives can lead to cost savings, reduced environmental impact, and improved tenant satisfaction.

Green building certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or ENERGY STAR, can provide independent validation of a property’s environmental performance. Achieving these certifications can enhance a property’s marketability, attract environmentally-conscious tenants, and potentially qualify the REIT for various incentives and tax benefits.

Engaging sustainability consultants and seeking guidance from organizations specializing in green building practices can help REITs identify and implement the most effective and cost-efficient strategies to meet sustainability goals. It’s crucial to approach sustainability as an ongoing commitment, continuously evaluating and improving the REIT’s environmental practices to meet evolving industry standards and best practices.

Contracts and Leases for REITs

Contractual agreements and leases form the foundation of a REIT’s relationships with its tenants, vendors, and other parties involved in the operation and management of its properties. Negotiating and drafting comprehensive and favorable contracts and leases is essential to protect the interests of the REIT and provide stability to its operations.

Negotiating and drafting commercial leases for REIT properties

Negotiating commercial leases requires careful consideration of various factors, including rent structure, lease term, renewal options, maintenance and repair responsibilities, and any financial or other concessions granted to the tenant.

Rent structure is a critical element to consider, and REITs often utilize different types of lease structures, such as gross leases or triple-net leases. Gross leases typically include the tenant’s base rent and the landlord’s responsibility for operating expenses, while triple-net leases require the tenant to pay for operating expenses in addition to the base rent.

Lease terms and renewal options should be carefully evaluated to ensure a balance between the REIT’s need for consistent income streams and the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions. Offering clear options for lease renewal or termination can help mitigate the risks associated with tenant turnover and provide stability to the REIT’s cash flow.

Engaging experienced real estate attorneys who specialize in lease negotiations is crucial to protect the REIT’s interests. Attorneys can review, negotiate, and draft leases that accurately reflect the parties’ intentions, provide adequate protection, and align with the REIT’s long-term goals.

Triple-net leases and their implications for REITs

Triple-net leases are a popular choice for many REITs, particularly in the commercial real estate sector. In a triple-net lease, the tenant assumes responsibility for not only the base rent but also the operating expenses, taxes, and insurance associated with the property.

From the REIT’s perspective, triple-net leases can provide a stable, predictable income stream, as the tenant assumes the financial responsibility for most property-related expenses. This structure allows the REIT to focus on property management and investment activities while minimizing day-to-day administrative burdens.

It’s important, however, for REITs to carefully evaluate the risks associated with triple-net leases. For example, fluctuations in operating expenses can impact the tenant’s ability to make timely rent payments. Understanding the local market conditions, assessing the tenant’s financial stability, and negotiating appropriate rent escalation clauses are crucial steps to mitigate these risks.

Triple-net leases also require diligent management and oversight, ensuring that the tenant complies with its obligations, maintains proper insurance coverage, and accurately pays the expenses associated with the property. Regular property inspections, comprehensive reporting, and strong communication channels are essential to ensure a successful triple-net lease arrangement.

Renewal and termination options in leases

Leases with well-defined renewal and termination options are vital to the stability of a REIT’s investment portfolio. Providing both parties with clear expectations and rights in case of lease expiration or termination reduces uncertainty and potential disputes.

Renewal options allow the tenant to extend the lease beyond the initial term, typically by exercising an option to renew within a specified timeframe. Renewal options can provide stability to the REIT by minimizing periods of vacancy, ensuring a consistent income stream, and potentially avoiding the need for expensive lease renegotiations.

Termination options, on the other hand, provide both the landlord and the tenant with the right to terminate the lease under certain circumstances. These circumstances may include default by either party, changes in the tenant’s business needs, failure to meet lease obligations, or specific conditions defined in the lease agreement.

Properly structuring renewal and termination options requires careful consideration of the REIT’s investment strategy, market conditions, and anticipated future needs. Engaging experienced real estate attorneys can help negotiate and draft leases that include appropriate renewal and termination provisions, ensuring the REIT’s long-term stability and flexibility.

Enforcement and disputes over leases

Despite careful attention to lease negotiations and drafting, disputes may still arise over lease terms, obligations, or interpretation. Effective enforcement and resolution strategies are essential to minimize the impact of disputes and maintain positive relationships with tenants.

Early intervention is crucial when addressing potential breaches or lease violations. Prompt communication, clear documentation, and consistent enforcement of lease provisions can help resolve disputes before they escalate further. Engaging legal counsel experienced in real estate litigation can provide valuable guidance and representation to the REIT in case of lease-related disputes.

Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation or arbitration, can often provide a more efficient and cost-effective solution than traditional litigation. These methods allow for more flexible outcomes, maintaining positive tenant relationships while protecting the REIT’s interests.

Creating and fostering a culture of open communication, proactive issue resolution, and collaboration with tenants can prevent disputes from arising in the first place. Offering exceptional customer service, being responsive to tenant concerns and needs, and regularly reviewing lease provisions can contribute to positive tenant experiences and minimize potential conflicts.

Public Offerings and Private Placements

Fundraising is a crucial aspect of a REIT’s operations, whether through public offerings or private placements. Understanding the legal requirements and regulations associated with these fundraising methods is essential to successfully access capital markets and attract investors.

Legal requirements for public offerings of REIT securities

To publicly offer securities, including equity shares or debt instruments, a REIT must comply with various legal requirements outlined by securities laws and regulations. These requirements are designed to ensure adequate investor protection and maintain the integrity of the financial markets.

REITs must file a registration statement with the SEC and provide comprehensive disclosure about their business, financial condition, investment strategy, and associated risks. This disclosure serves as the basis for investors to make informed decisions and assess the potential risks and rewards associated with investing in the REIT.

The registration process involves review and approval by the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, ensuring compliance with the applicable securities laws. Once approved, the REIT can proceed with the offering, making the securities available to the general public.

Exemptions and regulations for private placements

Private placements offer an alternative fundraising method for REITs, allowing them to raise capital from a limited number of sophisticated investors without undergoing the strict regulatory requirements associated with public offerings.

While private placements enjoy certain exemptions from registration with the SEC, they are still subject to various regulations to protect the interests of investors. Securities laws, such as Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, provide specific guidelines and requirements for private placements.

Private placements typically involve a limited number of institutional or accredited investors who have the necessary financial capacity and knowledge to evaluate the potential risks associated with the investment. The REIT must provide relevant disclosure documents and ensure compliance with anti-fraud provisions to avoid misleading or deceptive practices.

Engaging experienced securities attorneys specializing in private placements can help navigate the complex legal and regulatory landscape, ensuring compliance with securities laws and protecting the interests of both the REIT and its investors.

Securities offering documents and disclosures

Whether conducting a public offering or a private placement, offering documents and disclosures are essential to provide potential investors with comprehensive information about the REIT and its investment opportunities.

The offering documents typically include a prospectus or private placement memorandum (PPM) that provides detailed information about the REIT’s business, investment strategy, financials, risk factors, and legal structure. These documents serve as the foundation for investor due diligence and decision-making.

The PPM should include clear and accurate disclosures regarding the terms of the investment, potential risks, and any other material information that may impact the investor’s decision. Engaging experienced securities attorneys is vital to ensure compliance with the applicable securities laws and regulations, as well as mitigate potential liability risks.

Additionally, ongoing reporting and disclosure obligations must be fulfilled after the offering is completed. REITs must provide regular updates to investors, including financial statements, management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A), and disclosures regarding material events or risks that may impact the investment.

Investor relations and communications for REITs

Maintaining positive investor relations and effective communication channels are vital to building trust and credibility with investors. REITs must establish open and transparent lines of communication, providing investors with timely updates, responding to inquiries promptly, and addressing any concerns or issues.

Investor relations efforts may include regular newsletters, webinars, annual meetings, and periodic conference calls to update investors on the REIT’s performance, financials, and strategic initiatives. Utilizing technology platforms, such as investor portals or shareholder management systems, can streamline communication and enhance the overall investor experience.

Engaging experienced investor relations professionals who understand the unique dynamics of the real estate industry can help ensure effective communication strategies that align with the REIT’s goals and investor expectations. Building long-term relationships with investors contributes to the sustainability and growth of the REIT and enhances its reputation in the market.

Restructuring and Reorganization of REITs

As the market dynamics and strategic objectives of a REIT evolve, restructuring and reorganization may become necessary. These transactions can involve mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, spin-offs, conversion of non-REIT entities to REITs, or even liquidation and dissolution.

Mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations of REITs

Mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations are common restructuring strategies in the real estate industry. These transactions enable REITs to expand their portfolios, achieve operational synergies, and enhance their competitive positioning in the market.

Mergers involve combining two or more REITs into a single entity, while acquisitions refer to purchasing an existing REIT or its assets outright. Consolidations typically involve merging multiple properties or portfolios into a single entity, streamlining operations and reducing costs.

Restructuring transactions of this nature require thorough due diligence, strategic planning, and the negotiation and drafting of complex agreements. Engaging experienced legal and financial professionals is crucial to navigate the intricacies of these transactions, ensure a smooth transition, and protect the interests of the REIT and its shareholders.

Spin-offs and separation transactions for REITs

Spin-offs and separation transactions involve dividing a REIT’s assets or business units into separate entities, either through a sale, distribution of shares, or a combination of both. These transactions allow the REIT to focus on its core businesses, unlock shareholder value, and create distinct investment opportunities.

Spin-offs and separations require careful consideration of various legal, tax, and regulatory implications. Analyzing the financial and tax consequences, evaluating the impact on shareholder value, and navigating the complexities of the transaction require the expertise of experienced professionals.

Proper documentation, including separation agreements and associated disclosure documents, is crucial to ensure a clear delineation of rights, obligations, and transition arrangements for the entities involved. Engaging skilled transactional attorneys can help facilitate a smooth separation and protect the interests of the REIT and its shareholders.

Conversion of non-REIT entities to REITs

A non-REIT entity, such as a corporation or partnership, can be converted into a REIT through a process known as “conversion.” This restructuring strategy allows existing real estate entities to benefit from the advantages and tax benefits associated with REIT status.

Conversion involves complying with the qualification requirements outlined in the Internal Revenue Code, including the asset and income composition tests. Additionally, the conversion process requires amending the entity’s governing documents to align with the legal and operational requirements of a REIT.

Engaging experienced tax and transactional attorneys is essential to navigate the intricacies of the conversion process, ensure compliance with the applicable tax regulations, and protect the interests of the converting entity and its shareholders.

Liquidation and dissolution of REITs

In certain circumstances, the liquidation and dissolution of a REIT may be the most appropriate course of action. Liquidation involves selling the REIT’s assets, settling its obligations, and distributing the remaining proceeds to the shareholders. Dissolution refers to the legal termination of the REIT’s existence.

Liquidation and dissolution require careful planning, including evaluating the potential tax implications, notifying the relevant regulatory authorities, and ensuring compliance with the applicable legal and corporate governance requirements.

Engaging experienced attorneys specializing in corporate dissolution, tax law, and real estate can help navigate the complexities of the liquidation and dissolution process, ensuring that all legal and financial obligations are properly addressed and the interests of the shareholders are protected.


As a commercial real estate lawyer, navigating the legal considerations for REITs is essential to help clients achieve their investment goals. Choosing the right legal structure, ensuring compliance with securities laws, understanding tax implications, executing successful real estate acquisitions, managing risks and liabilities, complying with environmental regulations, negotiating contracts and leases, conducting public offerings and private placements, implementing restructuring strategies, and maintaining strong investor relations are all critical components to consider.

By covering these comprehensive legal considerations, you can provide valuable insight and guidance to clients interested in forming or investing in REITs. Remember, understanding all the legal nuances and implications is crucial to protecting your clients’ assets and ensuring the long-term success of their investments in the dynamic world of commercial real estate.

Learn more about the Legal Considerations For Commercial Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) here.