Real estate

What is Ground Lease Definition, and What Do They Mean for Investors and Landlords?

Written By Urban Real Estate Center
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2022 •

Ground leases are becoming more popular in the real estate market as they offer benefits to both landlords and tenants. This blog post will discuss the ground lease definitions and what they mean for investors and landlords. For landlords, ground leases provide a steady income stream with minimal investment.

For tenants, ground leases offer long-term stability and the ability to build equity over time. Keep reading if you're considering entering a ground lease agreement or are just curious about what they are!

What is Ground Lease Definition?

A Ground Lease is typically a long-term leasehold estate used to allow one party to use somebody else's property in exchange for rent payments. The lease term can vary but includes additional fees and clauses, such as yearly escalations or periodic rent negotiations.

Depending on the type of ground lease, it may entitle a company to build structures on the leased land while also transferring ownership of any buildings or improvements made back to the land owner at the end of the lease term.

A traditional land lease might include similar benefits but offers less flexibility and more limited options for tenants and landlords. Whatever your circumstances, it's important to understand Ground Lease Definition to make a decision and be aware of all associated risks and rewards with this type of agreement.

How can The Ground Lease Work?

A ground lease is a commercial lease where the tenant rents land from the landlord for a given period of time. The terms of this arrangement can differ from signer to signer, depending on the stipulations of both parties.A landlord may rent out his or her space to tenants to create an income stream, which usually includes periodic rent payments, although these payments can be structured differently.

Tenants holding a ground lease may gain access to rights attributed to them by the agreement, such as building on the land or growing crops for their use. Finding a satisfactory ground lease agreement depends on both parties negotiating fair and agreeable terms that have been established in accordance with their individual needs.

How Many types of Ground Leases?

Ground Leases come in two types: Subordinated and Unsubordinated:

1. Subordinate Ground Lease: A subordinated ground lease is essentially a rent arrangement between the tenant and the owner or lessor. Under this agreement, the tenant agrees to pay rent for a specified length of time at a predetermined rate given by the lessor. However, the tenant must also agree to any other types of uses that may be proposed on the land during their tenancy period.

2. Unsubordinated Ground Lease: On the other hand, an unsubordinated ground lease is a more straightforward option, as it does not provide any rights to others besides those related to paying and receiving rent.This type of agreement essentially gives exclusive control over all aspects of how the land will be used by one specific party, usually a single tenant or multiple tenants who have each signed onto this lease agreement individually.

What are The Benefits of a Ground Lease Investment?

Ground lease investment is a currently popular option and with good reason. By investing in a ground lease, benefits range from security to excellent ROI potential. These benefits are worth considering when looking for a sound long-term investment strategy.

1. The Luxury of Time

The luxury of time is one of the greatest benefits of investing in a ground lease. As long-term investments go, 99 years is quite remarkable; this allows a prime location to be utilized by developers who may wish to build and use it as collateral for other investments.

The long-term lease involved in this type of investment gives investors the freedom to enjoy the returns while growing their wealth with confidence and having ample time to explore further investments or opportunities. The luxury of time sets ground leases apart from other investments, granting investors the unique chance to capitalize on their assets with minimal risk.

2. Financial Benefits for Both Parties

Financial Benefits for Both Parties can be a huge advantage of a Ground Lease Investment. It allows the investor to make a long-term agreement with a property owner, in which they become the lessee, and the property owner becomes the lessor.

This agreement grants investors access to steady income via higher rents or concession fees indefinitely while providing property owners unrestricted ownership and control over their real estate. Ground lease investments are gaining popularity as a method of financing projects.

As both parties benefit from its terms, the lessee receives secure additional funds with minimal involvement, and the lessor enjoys ongoing financial benefits without any debt on their balance sheet. Financial Benefits for Both Parties ensure that each party makes an informed decision that works in their best interests, bringing beneficial business partnerships to fruition.

3. Access to Prime Real Estate Markets

Access to prime real estate markets is a great advantage of investing in a ground lease. You can only get in on lucrative investments if you put down the full cost of property ownership.But you also retain ownership while being a lower-priority claimant. That lessens the burden of paying for expensive premises upfront and lets you reserve your capital for other investments.

To top it off, should unexpected challenges arise that compromise your investment, there's much less risk of losing all your money since owning land isn't exactly within sight. Access to prime real estate markets is indeed worth exploring further and considering as an investment option.


Ground leases are an important part of the real estate market and can benefit landlords and investors. By understanding what a ground lease definition is and how they work, you can make more informed decisions about your investments and property holdings. 



Urban Real Estate Center

Ground leases are an important way for landlords and investors to structure their rental agreements. Learn the definition of the ground lease and how it can benefit both tenant and landowner.