SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
☒ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission file number 1-34364
OFFICE PROPERTIES INCOME TRUST
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
|(State of Organization)||(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)|
Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, MA 02458-1634
(Address of Principal Executive Offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code 617-219-1440
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title Of Each Class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name Of Each Exchange On Which Registered|
|Common Shares of Beneficial Interest||OPI||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
|6.375% Senior Notes due 2050||OPINL||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☒||Accelerated filer|
|Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to § 240.10D-1(b). ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the voting common shares of beneficial interest, $.01 par value, or common shares, of the registrant held by non-affiliates was approximately $948.4 million based on the $19.95 closing price per common share on The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC on June 30, 2022. For purposes of this calculation, an aggregate of 917,709 common shares held directly by, or by affiliates of, the trustees and the executive officers of the registrant have been included in the number of common shares held by affiliates.
Number of the registrant’s common shares outstanding as of February 14, 2023: 48,564,103.
References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the Company, OPI, we, us or our mean Office Properties Income Trust and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly stated or the context indicates otherwise.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Certain information required by Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K is incorporated by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.
Warning Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other securities laws. Also, whenever we use words such as “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “plan”, “estimate”, “will”, “may” and negatives or derivatives of these or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon our present intent, beliefs or expectations, but forward-looking statements are not guaranteed to occur and may not occur. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relate to various aspects of our business, including:
•The extent to which changes in office space utilization, including remote work arrangements, will continue and the impact that may have on demand for office space at our properties,
•Our ability and the ability of the office real estate sector and our tenants to operate under unfavorable market and economic conditions, such as rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, labor market challenges, volatility in the public equity and debt markets, geopolitical instability and economic downturns or recessions,
•Our expectations about the financial strength of our tenants,
•The likelihood that our rents will increase when we renew or extend our leases or enter new leases,
•Our belief that we are in a position to opportunistically recycle and deploy capital,
•The likelihood that our tenants will renew or extend their leases and not exercise early termination options pursuant to their leases or that we will obtain replacement tenants, on terms as favorable to us as our prior leases,
•The likelihood that our tenants will be negatively affected by cyclical economic conditions or government budget constraints and, if so, the impact that may have on their ability and willingness to lease our properties and pay us rent,
•Our ability to successfully execute our capital recycling program,
•Our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders and to maintain or increase the amount of such distributions,
•Our expectations regarding occupancy at our properties,
•Our expectations regarding our future financial performance including funds from operations, or FFO, normalized funds from operations, or Normalized FFO, or net operating income, or NOI,
•Our expectations regarding demand for leased space,
•Our expectations regarding capital expenditures,
•Our expectation that there will be opportunities for us to acquire, and that we will acquire, additional properties primarily leased to single or majority tenants and tenants with high credit quality characteristics,
•Our expectations regarding the costs and timing of our development, redevelopment and repositioning activities,
•Our ability to compete for acquisitions and tenancies effectively,
•Our sales and acquisitions of properties,
•Our policies and plans regarding investments, financings and dispositions,
•Our ability to appropriately balance our use of debt and equity capital,
•The future availability of borrowings under our revolving credit facility,
•Our ability to raise debt or equity capital,
•Our ability to pay interest on and principal of our debt,
•Our ability to maintain sufficient liquidity during any economic downturn that may result in response to current inflationary conditions or otherwise,
•Our credit ratings,
•Our expectation that we benefit from our relationships with The RMR Group LLC, or RMR,
•The credit qualities of our tenants,
•Our qualification for taxation as a real estate investment trust, or REIT,
•Changes in federal or state tax laws, and
Our actual results may differ materially from those contained in or implied by our forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond our control. Risks, uncertainties and other factors that could have a material adverse effect on our forward-looking statements and upon our business, results of operations, financial condition, FFO, Normalized FFO, NOI, cash flows, liquidity and prospects include, but are not limited to:
•The impact of increasing or sustained high interest rates, inflation, labor market challenges, volatility in the public equity and debt markets, the commercial real estate industry in general, geopolitical instability and economic downturns or recessions, the commercial real estate industry on us and our tenants,
•Competition within the commercial real estate industry, particularly in those markets in which our properties are located,
•The impact of changes in the real estate needs and financial conditions of our tenants,
•Compliance with, and changes to, federal, state and local laws and regulations, accounting rules, tax laws and similar matters,
•The impact of any U.S. government shutdown or failure to increase the government debt ceiling on our ability to collect rents and pay our operating expenses, debt obligations and distributions to shareholders on a timely basis,
•Actual and potential conflicts of interest with our related parties, including our Managing Trustees, RMR, Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, or Sonesta, and others affiliated with them,
•Limitations imposed on our business and our ability to satisfy complex rules in order for us to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and
•Acts of terrorism, outbreaks or continuation of pandemics or other public health safety events or conditions, war or other hostilities, further material or prolonged disruption to supply chains, or other manmade or natural disasters beyond our control.
•Our ability to make or sustain distributions to our shareholders and to make payments of principal and interest on our indebtedness depends upon a number of factors, including our receipt of rent from our tenants, our future earnings, the capital costs we incur to lease our properties and our working capital requirements. We may be unable to pay our debt obligations or to maintain our current rate of distributions on our common shares and future distributions may be reduced or eliminated,
•Our ability to grow our business and increase our distributions depends in large part upon our ability to buy properties and lease them for rents, less their property operating costs, that exceed our capital costs. We may be unable to identify properties that we want to acquire, and we may fail to reach agreement with the sellers and complete the purchases of any properties we want to acquire. In addition, any properties we may acquire may not provide us with rents less property operating costs that exceed our capital costs or achieve our expected returns,
•We may fail to maintain, or we may elect to change our distribution rate. Our Board of Trustees considers many factors when setting distribution rates, including our historical and projected income, Normalized FFO, cash available for distribution, the then current and expected needs and availability of cash to pay our obligations and fund our investments, distributions which may be required to be paid to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT and
other factors deemed relevant by our Board of Trustees. Accordingly, future distribution rates may be increased or decreased and there is no assurance as to the rate at which future distributions will be paid,
•We expect to selectively sell properties from time to time when we determine we have maximized value, our continued ownership or ongoing required capital expenditures will not achieve desired returns or when we believe we can successfully pursue more desirable opportunities than retaining those properties. We cannot be sure we will sell any of these properties or what the terms of any sales may be or that we will acquire replacement properties that improve our asset quality or our ability to increase our distributions to shareholders,
•We may not receive the amounts we expect for properties we seek to sell,
•We may not succeed in managing leverage at levels we believe are appropriate,
•Some of our tenants may not renew expiring leases or they may exercise their rights, if any, to vacate their space before the stated expirations of their leases, and we may be unable to obtain new tenants to maintain or increase the historical occupancy rates of, or rents from, our properties,
•Rents that we can charge at our properties may decline upon renewals or expirations because of changing market conditions or otherwise,
•Leasing for some of our properties depends on a single or majority tenant and we may be adversely affected by the bankruptcy, insolvency, a downturn of business or a lease termination of such single or majority tenant at these properties,
•Our belief that there is a likelihood that tenants may renew or extend our leases prior to their expirations whenever they have made significant investments in the leased properties, or because those properties may be of strategic importance to them, may not be realized,
•Overall new leasing volume may be impacted if a significant level of remote work arrangements and current inflationary conditions continue for an extended period or worsen or if a recession occurs. Also, our tenants may become unable to pay rent or they may elect to not renew their leases with us. Further, some of our government leases provide the tenant with certain rights to terminate their lease early. Budgetary and other fiscal pressures may result in some governmental tenants terminating their leases early or not renewing their leases. In addition, certain changes in office space utilization, including increased remote work arrangements, continue to impact the market. To the extent those practices become permanent or further increase, leasing demand for office space may decline. As a result of these factors, our tenant retention levels could decline and we may experience reduced rent or incur increased costs under future new or renewal leases,
•Our belief that we are well positioned to opportunistically recycle and deploy capital may not be realized. We may fail to identify and execute on opportunities to deploy capital and any deployment of capital we may make may not result in the returns that we expect,
•Our business plan and related investment focus for properties may not be successful or generate the returns we expect,
•Contingencies in our acquisition and sale agreements, if any, may not be satisfied and any expected acquisitions and sales and any related lease arrangements we expect to enter may not occur, may be delayed or the terms of such transactions or arrangements may change,
•We expect to pursue accretively growing our property portfolio. However, we may not succeed in making acquisitions that are accretive and future acquisitions could be dilutive,
•The competitive advantages we believe we have may not in fact exist or provide us with the advantages we expect. We may fail to maintain any of these advantages or our competition may obtain or increase their competitive advantages relative to us,
•We intend to conduct our business activities in a manner that will afford us reasonable access to capital for investment and financing activities. However, we may not succeed in this regard and we may not have reasonable access to capital,
•Continued availability of borrowings under our revolving credit facility is subject to our satisfying certain financial covenants and other credit facility conditions that we may be unable to satisfy,
•Actual costs under our revolving credit facility will be higher than the stated rate plus a premium because of fees and expenses associated with such debt,
•The interest rates payable under our floating rate debt obligations depend upon our credit ratings. If our credit ratings are downgraded, our borrowing costs will increase,
•Our ability to access debt capital and the cost of our debt capital will depend in part on our credit ratings. If our credit ratings are downgraded, we may not be able to access debt capital or the debt capital we can access may be expensive,
•We may be unable to repay our debt obligations when they become due,
•The maximum borrowing availability under our revolving credit facility may be increased to up to $1.95 billion in certain circumstances; however, increasing the maximum borrowing availability under our revolving credit facility is subject to our obtaining additional commitments from lenders, which may not occur,
•We have one remaining option to extend the maturity date of our revolving credit facility upon payment of a fee and meeting other conditions; however, the applicable conditions may not be met,
•We may incur significant costs to prepare a property for tenancy, particularly for single or majority tenant properties,
•We may spend more for capital expenditures than we currently expect or than we had planned when a project was commenced, including as a result of inflation, supply chain challenges, unforeseen delays or otherwise, and we plan to spend more for capital expenditures than we have in the past,
•We may fail to obtain development rights or entitlements that we may seek for development and other projects we may wish to conduct at our properties,
•Our existing joint ventures and any additional joint ventures we may enter into in the future may not be successful,
•Any development, redevelopment or repositioning projects we undertake may be unsuccessful, may require greater capital expenditures or other costs than we project or may take significant time to complete, including as a result of inflation, supply chain challenges or otherwise,
•The business and property management agreements between us and RMR have continuing 20 year terms. However, those agreements permit early termination in certain circumstances. Accordingly, we cannot be sure that these agreements will remain in effect for continuing 20 year terms,
•We expect that we will benefit from RMR’s Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, program and initiatives. However, we may not realize the benefits we expect from such program and initiatives and we or RMR may not succeed in meeting existing or future standards regarding ESG,
•We believe that our relationships with our related parties, including RMR, Sonesta and others affiliated with them, may benefit us and provide us with competitive advantages in operating and growing our business. However, the advantages we believe we may realize from these relationships may not materialize, and
•It is difficult to accurately estimate our ability to lease space, leasing related obligations and costs of property development, redevelopment or repositioning and tenant improvement costs. Our unspent leasing related obligations and development, redevelopment or repositioning costs may cost more and may take longer to complete than we currently expect or than we planned when a project was commenced, and we may incur increased amounts for these and similar purposes in the future.
Currently unexpected results could occur due to many different circumstances, some of which are beyond our control, such as economic conditions, including rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation and economic downturns or recessions, other changes in capital markets, commercial real estate markets or the economy generally, changes in our tenants’ financial conditions, the market demand for leased space, the ability of the U.S. and state governments to approve spending bills to fund their obligations, acts of terrorism, war, other hostilities or other geopolitical risks, pandemics or other public health safety events or conditions, natural disasters or climate change and climate related events.
The information contained elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, including under the caption “Risk Factors”, or incorporated herein or therein, identifies other
important factors that could cause differences from our forward-looking statements. Our filings with the SEC are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
You should not place undue reliance upon our forward-looking statements.
Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or change any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Statement Concerning Limited Liability
The amended and restated declaration of trust establishing Office Properties Income Trust, dated June 8, 2009, as amended, as filed with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation of Maryland, provides that no trustee, officer, shareholder, employee or agent of Office Properties Income Trust shall be held to any personal liability, jointly or severally, for any obligation of, or claim against, Office Properties Income Trust. All persons dealing with Office Properties Income Trust in any way shall look only to the assets of Office Properties Income Trust for the payment of any sum or the performance of any obligation.
OFFICE PROPERTIES INCOME TRUST
2022 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
Table of Contents
Item 1. Business
We are a real estate investment trust, or REIT, formed in 2009 under Maryland law. As of December 31, 2022, our wholly owned properties were comprised of 160 properties containing approximately 21.0 million rentable square feet (all square footage amounts included within this Annual Report on Form 10-K are unaudited) and we had noncontrolling ownership interests of 51% and 50% in two unconsolidated joint ventures that own three properties containing approximately 0.4 million rentable square feet. As of December 31, 2022, our properties have an undepreciated carrying value of approximately $3.9 billion and a depreciated carrying value of approximately $3.4 billion, excluding properties classified as held for sale. As of December 31, 2022, our properties were leased to 274 different tenants, with a weighted average remaining lease term (based on annualized rental income as defined below) of approximately 6.6 years. The U.S. government is our largest tenant, representing approximately 19.7% of our annualized rental income as of December 31, 2022. The term annualized rental income as used herein is defined as the annualized contractual base rents from our tenants pursuant to our lease agreements as of December 31, 2022, plus straight line rent adjustments and estimated recurring expense reimbursements to be paid to us, and excluding lease value amortization.
Our principal executive offices are located at Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634, and our telephone number is (617) 219-1440.
Our Business Strategy
Our business plan is to focus on acquiring, owning, developing and leasing high-quality office and mixed-use properties in select, growth-oriented U.S. markets. We seek to diversify our revenue base across geographies with ownership in central business district, urban infill and suburban locations. Our approach emphasizes properties, markets or locations with high barriers to entry, qualities and characteristics to attract and retain talent and investment toward sustainability efforts.
As our lease expirations approach, we will attempt to evaluate the highest and best use for a property and focus on proactive asset management to renew our leases with existing tenants or to enter leases with new tenants to enhance long-term cash flow growth and asset values. Our ability to renew leases with our existing tenants or to enter new leases with new tenants and the rents we are able to charge will depend in large part upon market conditions, which are beyond our control. We believe that if a property previously occupied by a single or majority tenant becomes vacant, it may be capital and time intensive to restabilize, redevelop or reposition depending on various factors including market conditions.
We expect to selectively sell properties from time to time when we determine we have maximized value, our continued ownership or ongoing required capital expenditures will not achieve desired returns or when we believe we can successfully pursue more desirable opportunities than retaining those properties. We also expect to use sales proceeds to manage leverage levels and to acquire new properties or portfolios that we believe will help diversify our revenue base, improve the average age of our properties, lengthen our weighted average lease term, reduce our ongoing capital requirements and/or increase our distributions to shareholders. We refer to this as our capital recycling program.
Our Growth Strategy
Our internal growth strategy is to attempt to increase the rents and corresponding cash flows we receive from our current properties and to increase occupancy by leasing vacant space. To achieve these increases, we may invest in our properties through development, redevelopment or repositioning activities or through improvements requested by existing tenants or to induce lease renewals or new tenant leases when our current leases expire or vacant space is leased. However, as noted above, our ability to increase occupancy or to maintain or increase the rents and corresponding cash flows we receive from our current properties will depend in large part upon market conditions, which are beyond our control.
Our external growth strategy is defined by our investment policies, including our capital recycling program, and our acquisition, disposition and financing policies.
Our Investment Policies
Our primary investment objectives include acquiring properties or portfolios that enhance our overall portfolio composition and produce greater returns than those properties or portfolios we are disposing in connection with our capital recycling program. We intend to acquire properties or portfolios with a goal of improving our asset diversification, our geographical footprint and the average age of our properties, lengthening the weighted average term of our leases and increasing tenant
retention, and increasing our distributions to shareholders. To achieve these objectives, we seek to: (a) invest in institutional quality properties with an emphasis on high credit quality tenants; (b) use proceeds from our capital recycling program to manage leverage levels and to fund additional investments we believe appropriate; (c) when market conditions permit, refinance debt with long term debt or additional equity; and (d) pursue capital allocation strategies so that our cash flow from operations comes from a diversified portfolio of properties, geographies, industries and tenants.
Acquisition Policies. We currently intend to focus our investments primarily in U.S. office, mixed-use or similar type properties in markets we believe have strong economic fundamentals to support growth, including (1) properties leased to a single or majority tenant that are strategic to that tenant and which may include built-to-suit, specialty use or corporate or regional headquarters and properties where the tenant has invested meaningful capital, with a minimum remaining lease term of at least seven years and (2) properties with specialty uses or those deemed to be mission critical to a user. We also expect to seek investments primarily in first generation properties where we believe there is a reasonably high likelihood of renewing the tenants in place and where we expect ongoing capital needs to be relatively modest when compared to older properties.
We expect to use the extensive nationwide resources of our manager, The RMR Group LLC, or RMR, to locate and manage the acquisition of such properties. We expect most of our future acquisitions will be office properties; however, we may consider acquiring other types of properties, including properties with specialty uses and properties which have a mix of retail or housing uses, or acquiring properties with the purpose of redeveloping them in conjunction with properties we own. We also expect to further diversify our sources of rents, which we expect would improve the security of our revenues.
In implementing our acquisition strategy, we consider a range of factors relating to proposed property purchases, including:
•the return on the properties being sold to finance acquisitions or property developments, redevelopments or repositionings compared to the projected returns we may realize by owning the property we would acquire or develop, redevelop or reposition;
•our cost of capital compared to the projected returns we may realize by owning the property;
•the pricing of comparable properties as evidenced by recent arm’s length market sales;
•the strategic fit of the property with the rest of our properties and how it may strategically improve key attributes of our portfolio, including alignment with our Environmental, Social and Governance, or ESG, principles;
•the ongoing and expected capital requirements for the property;
•the market location of the property and our assessment of rent growth for that market;
•the likelihood of the tenant(s) renewing at lease expiration;
•the type of property (e.g., single tenant, multi-tenant, specialty use, etc.);
•the growth, tax and regulatory environments of the market in which the property is located;
•the occupancy and demand for similar properties in the same or nearby markets;
•the current or potential market position of the property;
•the historic and projected rents received and likely to be received from the property;
•the historic and expected operating expenses, incurred and expected to be incurred at the property;
•the remaining term of the lease(s) at the property and other lease terms;
•the industry(ies) in which the tenant(s) operate;
•the experience and credit quality of the property’s tenant(s);
•the current and expected future space utilization at the property by its tenant(s);
•the construction quality, physical condition, age and design of the property;
•the use and size of the property;
•the price at which the property may be acquired or redeveloped;
•the estimated replacement cost of the property; and
•the existence of alternative sources, uses or needs for our capital, including our debt leverage.
Other Acquisitions. We prefer wholly owned investments in fee interests. However, we may invest in leaseholds, joint ventures, mortgages and other real estate interests. We currently own 51% and 50% interests in two unconsolidated joint ventures. In the future, we may invest in or enter into additional real estate joint ventures if we conclude that by doing so we may benefit from the participation of co-venturers, or that our opportunity to participate in the investment is contingent on the use of a joint venture structure or that pre-existing joint venture arrangements may be part of an acquisition we wish to make. We may invest in participating, convertible or other types of mortgages if we conclude that by doing so, we may benefit from the cash flow or appreciation in the value of a property which is not available for purchase.
We have in the past considered, and may in the future consider, the possibility of entering into mergers or strategic combinations with other companies. The principal goals of any such transaction will be to increase our cash flow from operations and to further diversify our revenue sources.
We have no policies which specifically limit the percentage of our assets that may be invested in any individual property, in any one type of property, in properties managed by or leased to any one entity, in properties managed by or leased to any affiliated group of entities or in securities of one or more other persons.
Our Board of Trustees may change our acquisition policies without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders.
Disposition Policies. We expect to sell properties, from time to time, in order to manage leverage levels or to recycle capital into properties that we believe have better long term earnings potential. We make disposition decisions based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the following:
•the estimated sales price or value we may receive by selling the property;
•the capital required to maintain the property;
•our intended use of the proceeds we may realize from the sale of a property;
•our expectation regarding tenant lease renewals or the likelihood of finding (a) replacement tenant(s) if the property has significant vacancies or is likely to become substantially vacant;
•our evaluation of future rent for the property relative to leasing costs;
•the strategic fit of the property or investment with the rest of our portfolio;
•the remaining length of the current lease(s) and its (their) other terms;
•the potential costs associated with finding (a) replacement tenant(s), including tenant improvements, leasing commissions and concessions, the cost to operate the property while vacant and building improvement capital, as compared to our projected returns from future rents;
•the occupancy of the property;
•the future expected space utilization of the tenant(s) and the potential impact that may have on occupancy at the property;
•whether the property’s tenant(s) is (are) current on its (their) lease obligation(s);
•our evaluation of the property’s tenant(s) ability to pay its (their) contractual rents;
•the tax implications to us and our shareholders of any proposed dispositions;
•our financial position and needs from time to time; and
•the existence of alternative sources, uses or needs for capital, including our debt leverage.
Our Board of Trustees may change our disposition policies without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders.
For more information regarding our investing activities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our Financing Policies
To qualify for taxation as a REIT under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the IRC, we must distribute at least 90% of our annual REIT taxable income (excluding net capital gains). Accordingly, we generally will not be able to retain sufficient cash to fund our operations, repay our debts, invest in our properties and fund acquisitions and development, redevelopment and repositioning efforts. We expect to use proceeds from our capital recycling program to fund acquisitions and development, redevelopment and repositioning efforts and to manage leverage at levels we believe appropriate. We also expect to repay our debts, invest in our properties and fund acquisitions and development, redevelopment and repositioning efforts with borrowings under our revolving credit facility (as defined below), proceeds from debt or equity securities we may issue or retained cash from operations that may exceed our distributions paid. To the extent we obtain additional debt financing, we may do so on an unsecured or a secured basis. We may seek to obtain lines of credit or to issue securities senior to our common shares, including preferred shares or debt securities, which may be convertible into our common shares or be accompanied by warrants to purchase our common shares or to pursue joint venture financing arrangements. We may also finance acquisitions by assuming debt or through the issuance of equity or other securities. The proceeds from any of our financings may be used to pay distributions, to provide working capital, to refinance existing indebtedness or to finance acquisitions or property developments, redevelopments or repositionings.
Although there are no limitations in our organizational documents on the type or amount of indebtedness we may incur, the borrowing limitations established by the covenants in the credit agreement governing our revolving credit facility, or our credit agreement, and our senior unsecured notes indentures and their supplements currently restrict our ability to incur indebtedness and require us to comply with certain financial and other covenants. However, we may seek to amend these covenants or seek replacement financings with less restrictive covenants. In the future, we may decide to seek changes in the financial covenants which currently restrict our debt leverage based upon then current economic conditions, the relative availability and costs of debt versus equity capital and our need for capital to take advantage of acquisition opportunities or otherwise.
We currently have a $750.0 million unsecured revolving credit facility, or our revolving credit facility, that we use for working capital and general business purposes, including to fund acquisitions and development, redevelopment and repositioning efforts on an interim basis until we may refinance with term debt or equity. In some instances, we may assume outstanding mortgage debt in connection with our acquisitions or place new mortgages on properties we own. For more information regarding our financing sources and activities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Generally, we intend to manage our leverage in a way that may allow us to achieve and maintain “investment grade” ratings from nationally recognized rating organizations. However, we cannot be sure that we will be able to achieve and maintain our investment grade ratings in the future.
Our Board of Trustees may change our financing policies at any time without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders.
Employees. We have no employees. Services which would otherwise be provided to us by employees are provided by RMR and by our Managing Trustees and officers. As of December 31, 2022, RMR had approximately 600 full time employees in its headquarters and regional offices located throughout the United States.
Our Manager. The RMR Group Inc., or RMR Inc., is a holding company and substantially all of its business is conducted by its majority owned subsidiary, RMR. The Chair of our Board of Trustees and one of our Managing Trustees, Adam D. Portnoy, is the sole trustee, an officer and the controlling shareholder of ABP Trust, which is the controlling shareholder of RMR Inc., chair of the board of directors, a managing director and the president and chief executive officer of RMR Inc. and an officer and employee of RMR. Jennifer B. Clark, our other Managing Trustee, also serves as a managing director and an executive officer of RMR Inc. and as an officer and employee of RMR, and each of our other officers is also an officer and employee of RMR. Our day to day operations are conducted by RMR. RMR originates and presents investment and divestment opportunities to our Board of Trustees and provides management and administrative services to us. RMR has a principal place of business at Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634, and its telephone number is (617) 796-8390.
RMR is an alternative asset management company that is focused on commercial real estate and related businesses. RMR or its subsidiaries also act as a manager to other publicly traded real estate companies, privately held real estate funds and real estate related operating businesses. As of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the executive officers of RMR are: Adam D. Portnoy, President and Chief Executive Officer; Jennifer B. Clark, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary; Jennifer F. Francis, Executive Vice President, Matthew P. Jordan, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer; John G. Murray, Executive Vice President; and Jonathan M. Pertchik, Executive Vice President. Our President and Chief Operating Officer, Christopher J. Bilotto, is a Senior Vice President of RMR. Our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Matthew C. Brown, is also a Senior Vice President of RMR. Other officers of RMR also serve as officers of other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services.
Corporate Sustainability. Since our inception in 2009, we have been guided by ESG principles, and believe corporate sustainability must be a strategic focus as part of our focus on operational practices, enhancing our competitive position, development and redevelopment efforts and economic performance. Our sustainability practices, which align with those of our manager, RMR — minimizing our impact on the environment, embracing the communities where we operate and attracting top professionals — are critical elements supporting our long-term success.
We recognize our responsibility to minimize the impact of our business on the environment and seek to preserve natural resources and maximize efficiencies in order to reduce the impact our properties have on the planet. Our environmental sustainability strategies and best practices help to mitigate our properties’ environmental footprint, optimize operational efficiency and enhance our competitiveness in the marketplace. We seek to obtain certifications that measure progress in environmental sustainability, which helps to benchmark performance and mitigate risk.
In July 2022, RMR announced its zero emissions goal pursuant to which it has pledged to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050 with a 50% reduction commitment by 2030 from a 2019 baseline.
We and our manager, RMR, drive value, manage risk and benchmark the performance of our properties by effectively capturing and managing data through real-time energy monitoring, or RTM. RTM facilitates advanced data analytics and access to detect faults and inefficiencies in equipment operations faster meanwhile enhancing building system control in a cost-effective and scalable way. RMR’s RTM program captures 38 of our properties totaling approximately 56% of our annual electricity spend and generated $1.7 million in cumulative savings to date, of which $0.2 million was generated in 2022.
Our energy performance programs drive down energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions of our properties. Lower energy use and emissions reduce our properties' potential exposure to policies that call for a carbon tax or other emissions-based penalties. Our existing business practices are intended to align with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures framework across both physical and transition risks and opportunities.
With respect to our development and redevelopment activities, RMR considers how to best incorporate ESG as part of the overall goal of any development or redevelopment project at our properties. Each potential project’s design phase begins with an evaluation of potential environmental certifications, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED®, and the WELL Building Standard criteria, among others. This process also includes sustained outreach to the respective municipality and surrounding communities to garner feedback and understand local concerns. Project requirements are then aligned with planning objectives established by neighborhood associations and permitting boards.
In reaction to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the U.S. government has instituted “green lease” policies which include the “Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Use of Renewable Energy” as one of the factors it considers when leasing property. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 also allows the General Services Administration to give preference to properties for lease that have received an “ENERGY STAR” certification. The ENERGY STAR program is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy which is focused on promoting energy efficient products and properties. Properties that reach a specified level of energy efficiency may receive the ENERGY STAR recognition for a period of 12 months before the requirement that they be recertified. Furthermore, certain properties are not eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. For example, lab uses, medical office properties and properties less than 50% occupied cannot be ENERGY STAR certified. In May 2022, we were recognized as an Energy Star Partner of the Year for the fifth consecutive year and a Sustained Excellence honoree for the third consecutive year. As of December 31, 2022, 43 of our properties containing 6.6 million rentable square feet (28.5% and 33.6% of our eligible properties and eligible rentable square feet, respectively) are ENERGY STAR certified.
The U.S. Government’s “green lease” policies also permit government tenants to require LEED® designation in selecting new premises or renewing leases at existing premises. The LEED® designation program is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting environmental sustainability for the built environment. Properties that reach specified levels of sustainability may receive a LEED® designation. As of December 31, 2022, 37 of our
properties containing 6.1 million rentable square feet (23.1% and 28.9% of our total properties and total rentable square feet, respectively) were LEED® designated.
In an effort to reduce the effects of any increased energy costs in the future, we continuously study ways to improve the energy efficiency at all of our properties. Our manager, RMR, is a member of the “ENERGY STAR” partner program, and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. In June 2022, we were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance and Institute for Market Transformation as a Gold Level Green Lease Leader, which highlights our commitment to environmental stewardship. We believe our efforts to obtain additional ENERGY STAR labels, LEED® and/or other designations and managing our properties in a sustainable manner benefits our business while also bettering the environment. Additionally, RMR releases an annual Sustainability Report, which summarizes the ESG initiatives RMR and its clients, including OPI, employ. RMR’s Sustainability Report may be accessed on RMR Inc.’s website at www.rmrgroup.com/corporate-sustainability/default.aspx. The information on or accessible through RMR Inc.’s website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
For more information, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—ESG initiatives, requirements and market expectations may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks” included in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Environmental Matters. Ownership of real estate is subject to risks associated with environmental matters. Prior to acquiring properties, we perform environmental site assessments during due diligence and where there are concerns we do additional monitoring and periodic assessments. We require our tenants to maintain compliance with environmental laws and we also monitor any known conditions. Although we do not believe that there are environmental conditions at any of our properties that will materially and adversely affect us, we cannot be sure that such conditions or costs we may be required to incur in the future to address environmental contamination will not materially and adversely affect us.
Board Diversity. As of December 31, 2022, our Board of Trustees was comprised of nine Trustees, of which seven were independent trustees, four, or approximately 44%, were female and one, or approximately 11%, was a member of under represented communities.
Competition. Investing in and operating real estate properties is a highly competitive business. We compete against publicly traded and private REITs, numerous financial institutions, individuals and public and private companies, including entities funded by both domestic and foreign capital, who are actively engaged in this business. Some of our competitors may have greater financial and other resources, or lower costs of capital than us. Also, we compete for investments based on a number of factors, including purchase prices, closing terms, underwriting criteria and our and RMR’s reputations. Our ability to successfully compete is also materially impacted by the availability and cost of capital to us. We do not believe we have a dominant position in any of the geographic markets in which we operate, but some of our competitors are dominant in selected markets. We believe the experience and abilities of our management and our manager, the quality of our properties, the diversity and credit qualities of our tenants, and the structure of our leases may afford us some competitive advantages and allow us to operate our business successfully despite the competitive nature of our business. For additional information about competition and other risks associated with our business, see “Risk Factors” included in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Leases. We have leases with government entities, including the U.S. government, state governments and other government tenants as well as non-government tenants. Some of our leases allow government and non-government tenants to vacate the leased premises before the stated expirations of their leases with little or no liability, or with penalty, by exercising early termination rights. For additional information about our tenants’ rights to terminate leases early, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Some tenants have the right to terminate their leases prior to their lease expiration date” included in Part I, Item 1A and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Overview—Property Operations” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Other Matters. Legislative and regulatory developments may occur at the federal, state and local levels that have direct or indirect impact on the ownership, leasing and operation of our properties. We may need to make expenditures, to the extent these costs are not paid by our tenants, due to changes in government regulations, or the application of such regulations to our properties, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, fire and safety regulations, building codes, land use regulations or environmental regulations on containment, abatement or removal.
Segment Information. As of December 31, 2022, we had one operating segment: direct ownership of real estate properties. For more information, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in Part II, Item 7 and our Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Internet Website. Our internet website address is www.opireit.com. Copies of our governance guidelines, our code of business conduct and ethics, or our Code of Conduct, and the charters of our audit, compensation and nominating and governance committees are posted on our website and also may be obtained free of charge by writing to our Secretary, Office Properties Income Trust, Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts, 02458-1634. We also have a policy outlining procedures for handling concerns or complaints about accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters and a governance hotline accessible on our website that shareholders can use to report concerns or complaints about accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters or violations or possible violations of our Code of Conduct. We make available, free of charge, through the “Investors” section of our website, our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after these forms are filed with, or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Any material we file with or furnish to the SEC is also maintained on the SEC website, www.sec.gov. Security holders may send communications to our Board of Trustees or individual Trustees by writing to the party for whom the communication is intended at c/o Secretary, Office Properties Income Trust, Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website address is included several times in this Annual Report on Form 10-K as a textual reference only. The information on or accessible through our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or other documents we file with, or furnish to, the SEC. We intend to use our website as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. Those disclosures will be included on our website in the “Investors” section. Accordingly, investors should monitor our website, in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings and public conference calls and webcasts.
MATERIAL UNITED STATES FEDERAL INCOME TAX CONSIDERATIONS
The following summary of material United States federal income tax considerations is based on existing law and is limited to investors who own our shares as investment assets rather than as inventory or as property used in a trade or business. The summary does not discuss all of the particular tax considerations that might be relevant to you if you are subject to special rules under federal income tax law, for example if you are:
•a bank, insurance company or other financial institution;
•a regulated investment company or REIT;
•a subchapter S corporation;
•a broker, dealer or trader in securities or foreign currencies;
•a person who marks-to-market our shares for U.S. federal income tax purposes;
•a U.S. shareholder (as defined below) that has a functional currency other than the U.S. dollar;
•a person who acquires or owns our shares in connection with employment or other performance of services;
•a person subject to alternative minimum tax;
•a person who acquires or owns our shares as part of a straddle, hedging transaction, constructive sale transaction, constructive ownership transaction or conversion transaction, or as part of a “synthetic security” or other integrated financial transaction;
•a person who owns 10% or more (by vote or value, directly or constructively under the IRC) of any class of our shares;
•a U.S. expatriate;
•a non-U.S. shareholder (as defined below) whose investment in our shares is effectively connected with the conduct of a trade or business in the United States;
•a nonresident alien individual present in the United States for 183 days or more during an applicable taxable year;
•a “qualified shareholder” (as defined in Section 897(k)(3)(A) of the IRC);
•a “qualified foreign pension fund” (as defined in Section 897(l)(2) of the IRC) or any entity wholly owned by one or more qualified foreign pension funds;
•a non-U.S. shareholder that is a passive foreign investment company or controlled foreign corporation;
•a person subject to special tax accounting rules as a result of their use of applicable financial statements (within the meaning of Section 451(b)(3) of the IRC); or
•except as specifically described in the following summary, a trust, estate, tax-exempt entity or foreign person.
The sections of the IRC that govern the federal income tax qualification and treatment of a REIT and its shareholders are complex. This presentation is a summary of applicable IRC provisions, related rules and regulations, and administrative and judicial interpretations, all of which are subject to change, possibly with retroactive effect. Future legislative, judicial or administrative actions or decisions could also affect the accuracy of statements made in this summary. We have not received a ruling from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, with respect to any matter described in this summary, and we cannot be sure that the IRS or a court will agree with all of the statements made in this summary. The IRS could, for example, take a different position from that described in this summary with respect to our acquisitions, operations, valuations, restructurings or other matters, which, if a court agreed, could result in significant tax liabilities for applicable parties. In addition, this summary is not exhaustive of all possible tax considerations and does not discuss any estate, gift, state, local or foreign tax considerations. For all these reasons, we urge you and any holder of or prospective acquiror of our shares to consult with a tax advisor about the federal income tax and other tax consequences of the acquisition, ownership and disposition of our shares. Our intentions and beliefs described in this summary are based upon our understanding of applicable laws and regulations that are in effect as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. If new laws or regulations are enacted which impact us directly or indirectly, we may change our intentions or beliefs.
Your federal income tax consequences generally will differ depending on whether or not you are a “U.S. shareholder.” For purposes of this summary, a “U.S. shareholder” is a beneficial owner of our shares that is:
•an individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States, including an alien individual who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States or meets the substantial presence residency test under the federal income tax laws;
•an entity treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes that is created or organized in or under the laws of the United States, any state thereof or the District of Columbia;
•an estate the income of which is subject to federal income taxation regardless of its source; or
•a trust if a court within the United States is able to exercise primary supervision over the administration of the trust and one or more U.S. persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of the trust, or, to the extent provided in Treasury regulations, a trust in existence on August 20, 1996 that has elected to be treated as a domestic trust;
whose status as a U.S. shareholder is not overridden by an applicable tax treaty. Conversely, a “non-U.S. shareholder” is a beneficial owner of our shares that is not an entity (or other arrangement) treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes and is not a U.S. shareholder.
If any entity (or other arrangement) treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes holds our shares, the tax treatment of a partner in the partnership generally will depend upon the tax status of the partner and the activities of the partnership. Any entity (or other arrangement) treated as a partnership for federal income tax purposes that is a holder of our shares and the partners in such a partnership (as determined for federal income tax purposes) are urged to consult their own tax advisors about the federal income tax consequences and other tax consequences of the acquisition, ownership and disposition of our shares.
Taxation as a REIT
We have elected to be taxed as a REIT under Sections 856 through 860 of the IRC, commencing with our 2009 taxable year. Our REIT election, assuming continuing compliance with the then applicable qualification tests, has continued and will continue in effect for subsequent taxable years. Although we cannot be sure, we believe that from and after our 2009 taxable year we have been organized and have operated, and will continue to be organized and to operate, in a manner that qualified us and will continue to qualify us to be taxed as a REIT under the IRC.
As a REIT, we generally are not subject to federal income tax on our net income distributed as dividends to our shareholders. Distributions to our shareholders generally are included in our shareholders’ income as dividends to the extent of our available current or accumulated earnings and profits. Our dividends are not generally entitled to the preferential tax rates on qualified dividend income, but a portion of our dividends may be treated as capital gain dividends or as qualified dividend income, all as explained below. In addition, for taxable years beginning before 2026 and pursuant to the deduction-without-outlay mechanism of Section 199A of the IRC, our noncorporate U.S. shareholders that meet specified holding period requirements are generally eligible for lower effective tax rates on our dividends that are not treated as capital gain dividends or as qualified dividend income. No portion of any of our dividends is eligible for the dividends received deduction for corporate shareholders. Distributions in excess of our current or accumulated earnings and profits generally are treated for federal income tax purposes as returns of capital to the extent of a recipient shareholder’s basis in our shares, and will reduce this basis. Our current or accumulated earnings and profits are generally allocated first to distributions made on our preferred shares, of which there are none outstanding at this time, and thereafter to distributions made on our common shares. For all these purposes, our distributions include cash distributions, any in kind distributions of property that we might make, and deemed or constructive distributions resulting from capital market activities (such as some redemptions), as described below.
Our counsel, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, is of the opinion that we have been organized and have qualified for taxation as a REIT under the IRC for our 2009 through 2022 taxable years, and that our current and anticipated investments and plan of operation will enable us to continue to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under the IRC. Our counsel’s opinions are conditioned upon the assumption that our leases, our declaration of trust, and all other legal documents to which we have been or are a party have been and will be complied with by all parties to those documents, upon the accuracy and completeness of the factual matters described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and upon representations made by us to our counsel as to certain factual matters relating to our organization and operations and our expected manner of operation. If this assumption or a description or representation is inaccurate or incomplete, our counsel’s opinions may be adversely affected and may not be relied upon. The opinions of our counsel are based upon the law as it exists today, but the law may change in the future, possibly with retroactive effect. Given the highly complex nature of the rules governing REITs, the ongoing importance of factual determinations, and the possibility of future changes in our circumstances, neither Sullivan & Worcester
LLP nor we can be sure that we will qualify as or be taxed as a REIT for any particular year. Any opinion of Sullivan & Worcester LLP as to our qualification or taxation as a REIT will be expressed as of the date issued. Our counsel will have no obligation to advise us or our shareholders of any subsequent change in the matters stated, represented or assumed, or of any subsequent change in the applicable law. Also, the opinions of our counsel are not binding on either the IRS or a court, and either could take a position different from that expressed by our counsel.
Our continued qualification and taxation as a REIT will depend upon our compliance with various qualification tests imposed under the IRC and summarized below. While we believe that we have satisfied and will satisfy these tests, our counsel does not review compliance with these tests on a continuing basis. If we fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT in any year, then we will be subject to federal income taxation as if we were a corporation taxed under subchapter C of the IRC, or a C corporation, and our shareholders will be taxed like shareholders of a regular C corporation, meaning that federal income tax generally will be applied at both the corporate and shareholder levels. In this event, we could be subject to significant tax liabilities, and the amount of cash available for distribution to our shareholders could be reduced or eliminated.
If we continue to qualify for taxation as a REIT and meet the tests described below, then we generally will not pay federal income tax on amounts that we distribute to our shareholders. However, even if we continue to qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may still be subject to federal tax in the following circumstances, as described below:
•We will be taxed at regular corporate income tax rates on any undistributed “real estate investment trust taxable income,” determined by including our undistributed ordinary income and net capital gains, if any. We may elect to retain and pay income tax on our net capital gain. In addition, if we so elect by making a timely designation to our shareholders, a shareholder would be taxed on its proportionate share of our undistributed capital gain and would generally be expected to receive a credit or refund for its proportionate share of the tax we paid.
•If we have net income from the disposition of “foreclosure property,” as described in Section 856(e) of the IRC, that is held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business or other nonqualifying income from foreclosure property, we will be subject to tax on this income at the highest regular corporate income tax rate.
•If we have net income from “prohibited transactions”—that is, dispositions at a gain of inventory or property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business other than dispositions of foreclosure property and other than dispositions excepted by statutory safe harbors—we will be subject to tax on this income at a 100% rate.
•If we fail to satisfy the 75% gross income test or the 95% gross income test discussed below, due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect, but nonetheless maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT because of specified cure provisions, we will be subject to tax at a 100% rate on the greater of the amount by which we fail the 75% gross income test or the 95% gross income test, with adjustments, multiplied by a fraction intended to reflect our profitability for the taxable year.
•If we fail to satisfy any of the REIT asset tests described below (other than a de minimis failure of the 5% or 10% asset tests) due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect, but nonetheless maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT because of specified cure provisions, we will be subject to a tax equal to the greater of $50,000 or the highest regular corporate income tax rate multiplied by the net income generated by the nonqualifying assets that caused us to fail the test.
•If we fail to satisfy any provision of the IRC that would result in our failure to qualify for taxation as a REIT (other than violations of the REIT gross income tests or violations of the REIT asset tests described below) due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect, we may retain our qualification for taxation as a REIT but will be subject to a penalty of $50,000 for each failure.
•If we fail to distribute for any calendar year at least the sum of 85% of our REIT ordinary income for that year, 95% of our REIT capital gain net income for that year and any undistributed taxable income from prior periods, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax on the excess of the required distribution over the amounts actually distributed.
•If we acquire a REIT asset where our adjusted tax basis in the asset is determined by reference to the adjusted tax basis of the asset in the hands of a C corporation, under specified circumstances we may be subject to federal income taxation on all or part of the built-in gain (calculated as of the date the property ceased being owned by the C corporation) on such asset. We generally do not expect to sell assets if doing so would result in the imposition of a
material built-in gains tax liability; but if and when we do sell assets that may have associated built-in gains tax exposure, then we expect to make appropriate provision for the associated tax liabilities on our financial statements.
•If we acquire a corporation in a transaction where we succeed to its tax attributes, to preserve our qualification for taxation as a REIT we must generally distribute all of the C corporation earnings and profits inherited in that acquisition, if any, no later than the end of our taxable year in which the acquisition occurs. However, if we fail to do so, relief provisions would allow us to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT provided we distribute any subsequently discovered C corporation earnings and profits and pay an interest charge in respect of the period of delayed distribution.
•Our subsidiaries that are C corporations, including our “taxable REIT subsidiaries”, as defined in Section 856(l) of the IRC, or TRSs, generally will be required to pay federal corporate income tax on their earnings, and a 100% tax may be imposed on any transaction between us and one of our TRSs that does not reflect arm’s length terms.
If we fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT in any year, then we will be subject to federal income tax in the same manner as a regular C corporation. Further, as a regular C corporation, distributions to our shareholders will not be deductible by us, nor will distributions be required under the IRC. Also, to the extent of our current and accumulated earnings and profits, all distributions to our shareholders will generally be taxable as ordinary dividends potentially eligible for the preferential tax rates discussed below under the heading “—Taxation of Taxable U.S. Shareholders” and, subject to limitations in the IRC, will be potentially eligible for the dividends received deduction for corporate shareholders. Finally, we will generally be disqualified from taxation as a REIT for the four taxable years following the taxable year in which the termination of our REIT status is effective. Our failure to qualify for taxation as a REIT for even one year could result in us reducing or eliminating distributions to our shareholders, or in us incurring substantial indebtedness or liquidating substantial investments in order to pay the resulting corporate-level income taxes. Relief provisions under the IRC may allow us to continue to qualify for taxation as a REIT even if we fail to comply with various REIT requirements, all as discussed in more detail below. However, it is impossible to state whether in any particular circumstance we would be entitled to the benefit of these relief provisions.
REIT Qualification Requirements
General Requirements. Section 856(a) of the IRC defines a REIT as a corporation, trust or association:
(1)that is managed by one or more trustees or directors;
(2)the beneficial ownership of which is evidenced by transferable shares or by transferable certificates of beneficial interest;
(3)that would be taxable, but for Sections 856 through 859 of the IRC, as a domestic C corporation;
(4)that is not a financial institution or an insurance company subject to special provisions of the IRC;
(5)the beneficial ownership of which is held by 100 or more persons;
(6)that is not “closely held,” meaning that during the last half of each taxable year, not more than 50% in value of the outstanding shares are owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer “individuals” (as defined in the IRC to include specified tax-exempt entities); and
(7)that meets other tests regarding the nature of its income and assets and the amount of its distributions, all as described below.
Section 856(b) of the IRC provides that conditions (1) through (4) must be met during the entire taxable year and that condition (5) must be met during at least 335 days of a taxable year of 12 months, or during a proportionate part of a taxable year of less than 12 months. Although we cannot be sure, we believe that we have met conditions (1) through (7) during each of the requisite periods ending on or before the close of our most recently completed taxable year, and that we will continue to meet these conditions in our current and future taxable years. To help comply with condition (6), our declaration of trust restricts transfers of our shares that would otherwise result in concentrated ownership positions. These restrictions, however, do not ensure that we have previously satisfied, and may not ensure that we will in all cases be able to continue to satisfy, the share ownership requirements described in condition (6). If we comply with applicable Treasury regulations to ascertain the ownership of our outstanding shares and do not know, or by exercising reasonable diligence would not have known, that we failed condition (6), then we will be treated as having met condition (6). Accordingly, we have complied and will continue to comply with these regulations, including by requesting annually from holders of significant percentages of our shares information regarding the ownership of our shares. Under our declaration of trust, our shareholders are required to respond to
these requests for information. A shareholder that fails or refuses to comply with the request is required by Treasury regulations to submit a statement with its federal income tax return disclosing its actual ownership of our shares and other information.
For purposes of condition (6), an “individual” generally includes a natural person, a supplemental unemployment compensation benefit plan, a private foundation, or a portion of a trust permanently set aside or used exclusively for charitable purposes, but does not include a qualified pension plan or profit-sharing trust. As a result, REIT shares owned by an entity that is not an “individual” are considered to be owned by the direct and indirect owners of the entity that are individuals (as so defined), rather than to be owned by the entity itself. Similarly, REIT shares held by a qualified pension plan or profit-sharing trust are treated as held directly by the individual beneficiaries in proportion to their actuarial interests in such plan or trust. Consequently, five or fewer such trusts could own more than 50% of the interests in an entity without jeopardizing that entity’s qualification for taxation as a REIT.
The IRC provides that we will not automatically fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT if we do not meet conditions (1) through (6), provided we can establish that such failure was due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect. Each such excused failure will result in the imposition of a $50,000 penalty instead of REIT disqualification. This relief provision may apply to a failure of the applicable conditions even if the failure first occurred in a year prior to the taxable year in which the failure was discovered.
Our Wholly Owned Subsidiaries and Our Investments Through Partnerships. Except in respect of a TRS as discussed below, Section 856(i) of the IRC provides that any corporation, 100% of whose stock is held by a REIT and its disregarded subsidiaries, is a qualified REIT subsidiary and shall not be treated as a separate corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The assets, liabilities and items of income, deduction and credit of a qualified REIT subsidiary are treated as the REIT’s. We believe that each of our direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries, other than the TRSs discussed below (and entities whose equity is owned in whole or in part by such TRSs), will be either a qualified REIT subsidiary within the meaning of Section 856(i)(2) of the IRC or a noncorporate entity that for federal income tax purposes is not treated as separate from its owner under Treasury regulations issued under Section 7701 of the IRC, each such entity referred to as a QRS. Thus, in applying all of the REIT qualification requirements described in this summary, all assets, liabilities and items of income, deduction and credit of our QRSs are treated as ours, and our investment in the stock and other securities of such QRSs will be disregarded.
We have invested and may in the future invest in real estate through one or more entities that are treated as partnerships for federal income tax purposes. In the case of a REIT that is a partner in a partnership, Treasury regulations under the IRC provide that, for purposes of the REIT qualification requirements regarding income and assets described below, the REIT is generally deemed to own its proportionate share, based on respective capital interests, of the income and assets of the partnership (except that for purposes of the 10% value test, described below, the REIT’s proportionate share of the partnership’s assets is based on its proportionate interest in the equity and specified debt securities issued by the partnership). In addition, for these purposes, the character of the assets and items of gross income of the partnership generally remains the same in the hands of the REIT. In contrast, for purposes of the distribution requirements discussed below, we must take into account as a partner our share of the partnership’s income as determined under the general federal income tax rules governing partners and partnerships under Subchapter K of the IRC.
Subsidiary REITs. We have in the past invested in real estate through entities that were intended to qualify for taxation as REITs, and we may in the future form or acquire additional entities that are intended to qualify for taxation as REITs. When a subsidiary qualifies for taxation as a REIT separate and apart from its REIT parent, the subsidiary’s shares are qualifying real estate assets for purposes of the REIT parent’s 75% asset test described below. However, failure of the subsidiary to separately satisfy the various REIT qualification requirements described in this summary or that are otherwise applicable (and failure to qualify for the applicable relief provisions) would generally result in (a) the subsidiary being subject to regular U.S. corporate income tax, as described above, and (b) the REIT parent’s ownership in the subsidiary (i) ceasing to be qualifying real estate assets for purposes of the 75% asset test and (ii) becoming subject to the 5% asset test, the 10% vote test and the 10% value test, each as described below, generally applicable to a REIT’s ownership in corporations other than REITs and TRSs. In such a situation, the REIT parent’s own qualification and taxation as a REIT could be jeopardized on account of the subsidiary’s failure cascading up to the REIT parent, all as described below under the heading “—Asset Tests”. We have made and expect to make protective TRS elections with respect to our subsidiary REITs and may implement other protective arrangements intended to avoid a cascading REIT failure if any of our intended subsidiary REITs were not to qualify for taxation as a REIT, but we cannot be sure that such protective elections or other arrangements will be effective to avoid or mitigate the resulting adverse consequences to us.
Taxable REIT Subsidiaries. As a REIT, we are permitted to own any or all of the securities of a TRS, provided that no more than 20% of the total value of our assets, at the close of each quarter, is comprised of our investments in the stock or other securities of our TRSs. Very generally, a TRS is a subsidiary corporation other than a REIT in which a REIT directly or
indirectly holds stock and that has made a joint election with such REIT to be treated as a TRS. A TRS is taxed as a regular C corporation, separate and apart from any affiliated REIT. Our ownership of stock and other securities in our TRSs is exempt from the 5% asset test, the 10% vote test and the 10% value test discussed below.
In addition, any corporation (other than a REIT and other than a QRS) in which a TRS directly or indirectly owns more than 35% of the voting power or value of the outstanding securities is automatically a TRS (excluding, for this purpose, certain “straight debt” securities). Subject to the discussion below, we believe that we and each of our TRSs have complied with, and will continue to comply with, the requirements for TRS status at all times during which the subsidiary’s TRS election is intended to be in effect, and we believe that the same will be true for any TRS that we later form or acquire.
As discussed below, TRSs can perform services for our tenants without disqualifying the rents we receive from those tenants under the 75% gross income test or the 95% gross income test discussed below. Moreover, because our TRSs are taxed as C corporations that are separate from us, their assets, liabilities and items of income, deduction and credit generally are not imputed to us for purposes of the REIT qualification requirements described in this summary. Therefore, our TRSs may generally conduct activities that would be treated as prohibited transactions or would give rise to nonqualified income if conducted by us directly.
Restrictions and sanctions are imposed on TRSs and their affiliated REITs to ensure that the TRSs will be subject to an appropriate level of federal income taxation. For example, if a TRS pays interest, rent or other amounts to its affiliated REIT in an amount that exceeds what an unrelated third party would have paid in an arm’s length transaction, then the REIT generally will be subject to an excise tax equal to 100% of the excessive portion of the payment. Further, if in comparison to an arm’s length transaction, a third-party tenant has overpaid rent to the REIT in exchange for underpaying the TRS for services rendered, and if the REIT has not adequately compensated the TRS for services provided to or on behalf of the third-party tenant, then the REIT may be subject to an excise tax equal to 100% of the undercompensation to the TRS. A safe harbor exception to this excise tax applies if the TRS has been compensated at a rate at least equal to 150% of its direct cost in furnishing or rendering the service. Finally, the 100% excise tax also applies to the underpricing of services provided by a TRS to its affiliated REIT in contexts where the services are unrelated to services for REIT tenants. We cannot be sure that arrangements involving our TRSs will not result in the imposition of one or more of these restrictions or sanctions, but we do not believe that we or our TRSs are or will be subject to these impositions.
Income Tests. We must satisfy two gross income tests annually to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT. First, at least 75% of our gross income for each taxable year must be derived from investments relating to real property, including “rents from real property” within the meaning of Section 856(d) of the IRC, interest and gain from mortgages on real property or on interests in real property, income and gain from foreclosure property, gain from the sale or other disposition of real property (including specified ancillary personal property treated as real property under the IRC), or dividends on and gain from the sale or disposition of shares in other REITs (but excluding in all cases any gains subject to the 100% tax on prohibited transactions). When we receive new capital in exchange for our shares or in a public offering of our five-year or longer debt instruments, income attributable to the temporary investment of this new capital in stock or a debt instrument, if received or accrued within one year of our receipt of the new capital, is generally also qualifying income under the 75% gross income test. Second, at least 95% of our gross income for each taxable year must consist of income that is qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test, other types of interest and dividends, gain from the sale or disposition of stock or securities, or any combination of these. Gross income from our sale of property that we hold primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business, income and gain from specified “hedging transactions” that are clearly and timely identified as such, and income from the repurchase or discharge of indebtedness is excluded from both the numerator and the denominator in both gross income tests. In addition, specified foreign currency gains will be excluded from gross income for purposes of one or both of the gross income tests.
In order to qualify as “rents from real property” within the meaning of Section 856(d) of the IRC, several requirements must be met:
•The amount of rent received generally must not be based on the income or profits of any person, but may be based on a fixed percentage or percentages of receipts or sales.
•Rents generally do not qualify if the REIT owns 10% or more by vote or value of stock of the tenant (or 10% or more of the interests in the assets or net profits of the tenant, if the tenant is not a corporation), whether directly or after application of attribution rules. We generally do not intend to lease property to any party if rents from that property would not qualify as “rents from real property,” but application of the 10% ownership rule is dependent upon complex attribution rules and circumstances that may be beyond our control. Our declaration of trust generally disallows transfers or purported acquisitions, directly or by attribution, of our shares to the extent necessary to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC. Nevertheless, we cannot be sure that these restrictions will be
effective to prevent our qualification for taxation as a REIT from being jeopardized under the 10% affiliated tenant rule. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that we will be able to monitor and enforce these restrictions, nor will our shareholders necessarily be aware of ownership of our shares attributed to them under the IRC’s attribution rules.
•There is a limited exception to the above prohibition on earning “rents from real property” from a 10% affiliated tenant where the tenant is a TRS. If at least 90% of the leased space of a property is leased to tenants other than TRSs and 10% affiliated tenants, and if the TRS’s rent to the REIT for space at that property is substantially comparable to the rents paid by nonaffiliated tenants for comparable space at the property, then otherwise qualifying rents paid by the TRS to the REIT will not be disqualified on account of the rule prohibiting 10% affiliated tenants.
•In order for rents to qualify, a REIT generally must not manage the property or furnish or render services to the tenants of the property, except through an independent contractor from whom it derives no income or through one of its TRSs. There is an exception to this rule permitting a REIT to perform customary management and tenant services of the sort that a tax-exempt organization could perform without being considered in receipt of “unrelated business taxable income” as defined in Section 512(b)(3) of the IRC, or UBTI. In addition, a de minimis amount of noncustomary services provided to tenants will not disqualify income as “rents from real property” as long as the value of the impermissible tenant services does not exceed 1% of the gross income from the property.
•If rent attributable to personal property leased in connection with a lease of real property is 15% or less of the total rent received under the lease, then the rent attributable to personal property will qualify as “rents from real property;” if this 15% threshold is exceeded, then the rent attributable to personal property will not so qualify. The portion of rental income treated as attributable to personal property is determined according to the ratio of the fair market value of the personal property to the total fair market value of the real and personal property that is rented.
•In addition, “rents from real property” includes both charges we receive for services customarily rendered in connection with the rental of comparable real property in the same geographic area, even if the charges are separately stated, as well as charges we receive for services provided by our TRSs when the charges are not separately stated. Whether separately stated charges received by a REIT for services that are not geographically customary and provided by a TRS are included in “rents from real property” has not been addressed clearly by the IRS in published authorities; however, our counsel, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, is of the opinion that, although the matter is not free from doubt, “rents from real property” also includes charges we receive for services provided by our TRSs when the charges are separately stated, even if the services are not geographically customary. Accordingly, we believe that our revenues from TRS-provided services, whether the charges are separately stated or not, qualify as “rents from real property” because the services satisfy the geographically customary standard, because the services have been provided by a TRS, or for both reasons.
We believe that all or substantially all of our rents and related service charges have qualified and will continue to qualify as “rents from real property” for purposes of Section 856 of the IRC.
Absent the “foreclosure property” rules of Section 856(e) of the IRC, a REIT’s receipt of active, nonrental gross income from a property would not qualify under the 75% and 95% gross income tests. But as foreclosure property, the active, nonrental gross income from the property would so qualify. Foreclosure property is generally any real property, including interests in real property, and any personal property incident to such real property:
•that is acquired by a REIT as a result of the REIT having bid on such property at foreclosure, or having otherwise reduced such property to ownership or possession by agreement or process of law, after there was a default or when default was imminent on a lease of such property or on indebtedness that such property secured;
•for which any related loan acquired by the REIT was acquired at a time when the default was not imminent or anticipated; and
•for which the REIT makes a proper election to treat the property as foreclosure property.
Any gain that a REIT recognizes on the sale of foreclosure property held as inventory or primarily for sale to customers, plus any income it receives from foreclosure property that would not otherwise qualify under the 75% gross income test in the absence of foreclosure property treatment, reduced by expenses directly connected with the production of those items of income, would be subject to federal income tax at the highest regular corporate income tax rate under the foreclosure property income tax rules of Section 857(b)(4) of the IRC. Thus, if a REIT should lease foreclosure property in exchange for rent that qualifies as “rents from real property” as described above, then that rental income is not subject to the foreclosure property income tax.
Property generally ceases to be foreclosure property at the end of the third taxable year following the taxable year in which the REIT acquired the property, or longer if an extension is obtained from the IRS. However, this grace period terminates and foreclosure property ceases to be foreclosure property on the first day:
•on which a lease is entered into for the property that, by its terms, will give rise to income that does not qualify for purposes of the 75% gross income test (disregarding income from foreclosure property), or any nonqualified income under the 75% gross income test is received or accrued by the REIT, directly or indirectly, pursuant to a lease entered into on or after such day;
•on which any construction takes place on the property, other than completion of a building or any other improvement where more than 10% of the construction was completed before default became imminent and other than specifically exempted forms of maintenance or deferred maintenance; or
•which is more than 90 days after the day on which the REIT acquired the property and the property is used in a trade or business which is conducted by the REIT, other than through an independent contractor from whom the REIT itself does not derive or receive any income or a TRS.
Other than sales of foreclosure property, any gain that we realize on the sale of property held as inventory or other property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business, together known as dealer gains, may be treated as income from a prohibited transaction that is subject to a penalty tax at a 100% rate. The 100% tax does not apply to gains from the sale of property that is held through a TRS, although such income will be subject to tax in the hands of the TRS at regular corporate income tax rates; we may therefore utilize our TRSs in transactions in which we might otherwise recognize dealer gains. Whether property is held as inventory or primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business is a question of fact that depends on all the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular transaction. Sections 857(b)(6)(C) and (E) of the IRC provide safe harbors pursuant to which limited sales of real property held for at least two years and meeting specified additional requirements will not be treated as prohibited transactions. However, compliance with the safe harbors is not always achievable in practice. We attempt to structure our activities to avoid transactions that are prohibited transactions, or otherwise conduct such activities through TRSs; but, we cannot be sure whether or not the IRS might successfully assert that we are subject to the 100% penalty tax with respect to any particular transaction. Gains subject to the 100% penalty tax are excluded from the 75% and 95% gross income tests, whereas real property gains that are not dealer gains or that are exempted from the 100% penalty tax on account of the safe harbors are considered qualifying gross income for purposes of the 75% and 95% gross income tests.
We believe that any gain that we have recognized, or will recognize, in connection with our disposition of assets and other transactions, including through any partnerships, will generally qualify as income that satisfies the 75% and 95% gross income tests, and will not be dealer gains or subject to the 100% penalty tax. This is because our general intent has been and is to: (a) own our assets for investment (including through joint ventures) with a view to long-term income production and capital appreciation; (b) engage in the business of developing, owning, leasing and managing our existing properties and acquiring, developing, owning, leasing and managing new properties; and (c) make occasional dispositions of our assets consistent with our long-term investment objectives.
If we fail to satisfy one or both of the 75% gross income test or the 95% gross income test in any taxable year, we may nevertheless qualify for taxation as a REIT for that year if we satisfy the following requirements: (a) our failure to meet the test is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect; and (b) after we identify the failure, we file a schedule describing each item of our gross income included in the 75% gross income test or the 95% gross income test for that taxable year. Even if this relief provision does apply, a 100% tax is imposed upon the greater of the amount by which we failed the 75% gross income test or the amount by which we failed the 95% gross income test, with adjustments, multiplied by a fraction intended to reflect our profitability for the taxable year. This relief provision may apply to a failure of the applicable income tests even if the failure first occurred in a year prior to the taxable year in which the failure was discovered.
Based on the discussion above, we believe that we have satisfied, and will continue to satisfy, the 75% and 95% gross income tests outlined above on a continuing basis beginning with our first taxable year as a REIT.
Asset Tests. At the close of each calendar quarter of each taxable year, we must also satisfy the following asset percentage tests in order to qualify for taxation as a REIT for federal income tax purposes:
•At least 75% of the value of our total assets must consist of “real estate assets,” defined as real property (including interests in real property and interests in mortgages on real property or on interests in real property), ancillary personal property to the extent that rents attributable to such personal property are treated as rents from real property in accordance with the rules described above, cash and cash items, shares in other REITs, debt instruments issued by
“publicly offered REITs” as defined in Section 562(c)(2) of the IRC, government securities and temporary investments of new capital (that is, any stock or debt instrument that we hold that is attributable to any amount received by us (a) in exchange for our shares or (b) in a public offering of our five-year or longer debt instruments, but in each case only for the one-year period commencing with our receipt of the new capital).
•Not more than 25% of the value of our total assets may be represented by securities other than those securities that count favorably toward the preceding 75% asset test.
•Of the investments included in the preceding 25% asset class, the value of any one non-REIT issuer’s securities that we own may not exceed 5% of the value of our total assets. In addition, we may not own more than 10% of the vote or value of any one non-REIT issuer’s outstanding securities, unless the securities are “straight debt” securities or otherwise excepted as discussed below. Our stock and other securities in a TRS are exempted from these 5% and 10% asset tests.
•Not more than 20% of the value of our total assets may be represented by stock or other securities of our TRSs.
•Not more than 25% of the value of our total assets may be represented by “nonqualified publicly offered REIT debt instruments” as defined in Section 856(c)(5)(L)(ii) of the IRC.
Our counsel, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, is of the opinion that, although the matter is not free from doubt, our investments in the equity or debt of a TRS of ours, to the extent that and during the period in which they qualify as temporary investments of new capital, will be treated as real estate assets, and not as securities, for purposes of the above REIT asset tests.
The above REIT asset tests must be satisfied at the close of each calendar quarter of each taxable year as a REIT. After a REIT meets the asset tests at the close of any quarter, it will not lose its qualification for taxation as a REIT in any subsequent quarter solely because of fluctuations in the values of its assets. This grandfathering rule may be of limited benefit to a REIT such as us that makes periodic acquisitions of both qualifying and nonqualifying REIT assets. When a failure to satisfy the above asset tests results from an acquisition of securities or other property during a quarter, the failure can be cured by disposition of sufficient nonqualifying assets within thirty days after the close of that quarter.
In addition, if we fail the 5% asset test, the 10% vote test or the 10% value test at the close of any quarter and we do not cure such failure within thirty days after the close of that quarter, that failure will nevertheless be excused if (a) the failure is de minimis and (b) within six months after the last day of the quarter in which we identify the failure, we either dispose of the assets causing the failure or otherwise satisfy the 5% asset test, the 10% vote test and the 10% value test. For purposes of this relief provision, the failure will be de minimis if the value of the assets causing the failure does not exceed the lesser of (a) 1% of the total value of our assets at the end of the relevant quarter or (b) $10,000,000. If our failure is not de minimis, or if any of the other REIT asset tests have been violated, we may nevertheless qualify for taxation as a REIT if (a) we provide the IRS with a description of each asset causing the failure, (b) the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect, (c) we pay a tax equal to the greater of (1) $50,000 or (2) the highest regular corporate income tax rate imposed on the net income generated by the assets causing the failure during the period of the failure, and (d) within six months after the last day of the quarter in which we identify the failure, we either dispose of the assets causing the failure or otherwise satisfy all of the REIT asset tests. These relief provisions may apply to a failure of the applicable asset tests even if the failure first occurred in a year prior to the taxable year in which the failure was discovered.
The IRC also provides an excepted securities safe harbor to the 10% value test that includes among other items (a) “straight debt” securities, (b) specified rental agreements in which payment is to be made in subsequent years, (c) any obligation to pay “rents from real property,” (d) securities issued by governmental entities that are not dependent in whole or in part on the profits of or payments from a nongovernmental entity, and (e) any security issued by another REIT. In addition, any debt instrument issued by an entity classified as a partnership for federal income tax purposes, and not otherwise excepted from the definition of a security for purposes of the above safe harbor, will not be treated as a security for purposes of the 10% value test if at least 75% of the partnership’s gross income, excluding income from prohibited transactions, is qualifying income for purposes of the 75% gross income test.
We have maintained and will continue to maintain records of the value of our assets to document our compliance with the above asset tests and intend to take actions as may be required to cure any failure to satisfy the tests within thirty days after the close of any quarter or within the six month periods described above.
Based on the discussion above, we believe that we have satisfied, and will continue to satisfy, the REIT asset tests outlined above on a continuing basis beginning with our first taxable year as a REIT.
Annual Distribution Requirements. In order to qualify for taxation as a REIT under the IRC, we are required to make annual distributions other than capital gain dividends to our shareholders in an amount at least equal to the excess of:
(1)the sum of 90% of our “real estate investment trust taxable income” and 90% of our net income after tax, if any, from property received in foreclosure, over
(2)the amount by which our noncash income (e.g., imputed rental income or income from transactions inadvertently failing to qualify as like-kind exchanges) exceeds 5% of our “real estate investment trust taxable income.”
For these purposes, our “real estate investment trust taxable income” is as defined under Section 857 of the IRC and is computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction and our net capital gain and will generally be reduced by specified corporate-level income taxes that we pay (e.g., taxes on built-in gains or foreclosure property income).
The IRC generally limits the deductibility of net interest expense paid or accrued on debt properly allocable to a trade or business to 30% of “adjusted taxable income,” subject to specified exceptions. Any deduction in excess of the limitation is carried forward and may be used in a subsequent year, subject to that year’s 30% limitation. Provided a taxpayer makes an election (which is irrevocable), the limitation on the deductibility of net interest expense does not apply to a trade or business involving real property development, redevelopment, construction, reconstruction, acquisition, conversion, rental, operation, management, leasing, or brokerage, within the meaning of Section 469(c)(7)(C) of the IRC. Treasury regulations provide that a real property trade or business includes a trade or business conducted by a REIT. We have made an election to be treated as a real property trade or business and accordingly do not expect the foregoing interest deduction limitations to apply to us or to the calculation of our “real estate investment trust taxable income.”
Distributions must be paid in the taxable year to which they relate, or in the following taxable year if declared before we timely file our federal income tax return for the earlier taxable year and if paid on or before the first regular distribution payment after that declaration. If a dividend is declared in October, November or December to shareholders of record during one of those months and is paid during the following January, then for federal income tax purposes such dividend will be treated as having been both paid and received on December 31 of the prior taxable year to the extent of any undistributed earnings and profits.
The 90% distribution requirements may be waived by the IRS if a REIT establishes that it failed to meet them by reason of distributions previously made to meet the requirements of the 4% excise tax discussed below. To the extent that we do not distribute all of our net capital gain and all of our “real estate investment trust taxable income,” as adjusted, we will be subject to federal income tax at regular corporate income tax rates on undistributed amounts. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax to the extent we fail within a calendar year to make required distributions to our shareholders of 85% of our ordinary income and 95% of our capital gain net income plus the excess, if any, of the “grossed up required distribution” for the preceding calendar year over the amount treated as distributed for that preceding calendar year. For this purpose, the term “grossed up required distribution” for any calendar year is the sum of our taxable income for the calendar year without regard to the deduction for dividends paid and all amounts from earlier years that are not treated as having been distributed under the provision. We will be treated as having sufficient earnings and profits to treat as a dividend any distribution by us up to the amount required to be distributed in order to avoid imposition of the 4% excise tax.
If we do not have enough cash or other liquid assets to meet our distribution requirements, or if we so choose, we may find it necessary or desirable to arrange for new debt or equity financing to provide funds for required distributions in order to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT. We cannot be sure that financing would be available for these purposes on favorable terms, or at all.
We may be able to rectify a failure to pay sufficient dividends for any year by paying “deficiency dividends” to shareholders in a later year. These deficiency dividends may be included in our deduction for dividends paid for the earlier year, but an interest charge would be imposed upon us for the delay in distribution. While the payment of a deficiency dividend will apply to a prior year for purposes of our REIT distribution requirements and our dividends paid deduction, it will be treated as an additional distribution to the shareholders receiving it in the year such dividend is paid.
In addition to the other distribution requirements above, to preserve our qualification for taxation as a REIT we are required to timely distribute all C corporation earnings and profits that we inherit from acquired corporations, as described below.
We may elect to retain, rather than distribute, some or all of our net capital gain and pay income tax on such gain. In addition, if we so elect by making a timely designation to our shareholders, our shareholders would include their proportionate share of such undistributed capital gain in their taxable income, and they would receive a corresponding credit for their share of the federal corporate income tax that we pay thereon. Our shareholders would then increase the adjusted tax basis of their shares
by the difference between (a) the amount of capital gain dividends that we designated and that they included in their taxable income, and (b) the tax that we paid on their behalf with respect to that capital gain.
Acquisitions of C Corporations
We may in the future engage in transactions where we acquire all of the outstanding stock of a C corporation. Upon these acquisitions, except to the extent we make an applicable TRS election, each of our acquired entities and their various wholly-owned corporate and noncorporate subsidiaries will become our QRSs. Thus, after such acquisitions, all assets, liabilities and items of income, deduction and credit of the acquired and then disregarded entities will be treated as ours for purposes of the various REIT qualification tests described above. In addition, we generally will be treated as the successor to the acquired (and then disregarded) entities’ federal income tax attributes, such as those entities’ (a) adjusted tax bases in their assets and their depreciation schedules; and (b) earnings and profits for federal income tax purposes, if any. The carryover of these attributes creates REIT implications such as built-in gains tax exposure and additional distribution requirements, as described below. However, when we make an election under Section 338(g) of the IRC with respect to corporations that we acquire, we generally will not be subject to such attribute carryovers in respect of attributes existing prior to such election.
Built-in Gains from C Corporations. Notwithstanding our qualification and taxation as a REIT, under specified circumstances we may be subject to corporate income taxation if we acquire a REIT asset where our adjusted tax basis in the asset is determined by reference to the adjusted tax basis of the asset as owned by a C corporation. For instance, we may be subject to federal income taxation on all or part of the built-in gain that was present on the last date an asset was owned by a C corporation, if we succeed to a carryover tax basis in that asset directly or indirectly from such C corporation and if we sell the asset during the five year period beginning on the day the asset ceased being owned by such C corporation. To the extent of our income and gains in a taxable year that are subject to the built-in gains tax, net of any taxes paid on such income and gains with respect to that taxable year, our taxable dividends paid in the following year will be potentially eligible for taxation to noncorporate U.S. shareholders at the preferential tax rates for “qualified dividends” as described below under the heading “—Taxation of Taxable U.S. Shareholders”. We generally do not expect to sell assets if doing so would result in the imposition of a material built-in gains tax liability; but if and when we do sell assets that may have associated built-in gains tax exposure, then we expect to make appropriate provision for the associated tax liabilities on our financial statements.
Earnings and Profits. Following a corporate acquisition, we must generally distribute all of the C corporation earnings and profits inherited in that transaction, if any, no later than the end of our taxable year in which the transaction occurs, in order to preserve our qualification for taxation as a REIT. However, if we fail to do so, relief provisions would allow us to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT, provided we distribute any subsequently discovered C corporation earnings and profits and pay an interest charge in respect of the period of delayed distribution. C corporation earnings and profits that we inherit are, in general, specially allocated under a priority rule to the earliest possible distributions following the event causing the inheritance, and only then is the balance of our earnings and profits for the taxable year allocated among our distributions to the extent not already treated as a distribution of C corporation earnings and profits under the priority rule. The distribution of these C corporation earnings and profits is potentially eligible for taxation to noncorporate U.S. shareholders at the preferential tax rates for “qualified dividends” as described below under the heading “—Taxation of Taxable U.S. Shareholders”.
Depreciation and Federal Income Tax Treatment of Leases
Our initial tax bases in our assets will generally be our acquisition cost. We will generally depreciate our depreciable real property on a straight-line basis over forty years and our personal property over the applicable shorter periods. These depreciation schedules, and our initial tax bases, may vary for properties that we acquire through tax-free or carryover basis acquisitions, or that are the subject of cost segregation analyses.
We are entitled to depreciation deductions from our properties only if we are treated for federal income tax purposes as the owner of the properties. This means that the leases of our properties must be classified for U.S. federal income tax purposes as true leases, rather than as sales or financing arrangements, and we believe this to be the case.
Distributions to our Shareholders
As described above, we expect to make distributions to our shareholders from time to time. These distributions may include cash distributions, in kind distributions of property, and deemed or constructive distributions resulting from capital market activities. The U.S. federal income tax treatment of our distributions will vary based on the status of the recipient shareholder as more fully described below under the headings “—Taxation of Taxable U.S. Shareholders,” “—Taxation of Tax-Exempt U.S. Shareholders,” and “—Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders.”
Section 302 of the IRC treats a redemption of our shares for cash only as a distribution under Section 301 of the IRC, and hence taxable as a dividend to the extent of our available current or accumulated earnings and profits, unless the redemption satisfies one of the tests set forth in Section 302(b) of the IRC enabling the redemption to be treated as a sale or exchange of the shares. The redemption for cash only will be treated as a sale or exchange if it (a) is “substantially disproportionate” with respect to the surrendering shareholder’s ownership in us, (b) results in a “complete termination” of the surrendering shareholder’s entire share interest in us, or (c) is “not essentially equivalent to a dividend” with respect to the surrendering shareholder, all within the meaning of Section 302(b) of the IRC. In determining whether any of these tests have been met, a shareholder must generally take into account shares considered to be owned by such shareholder by reason of constructive ownership rules set forth in the IRC, as well as shares actually owned by such shareholder. In addition, if a redemption is treated as a distribution under the preceding tests, then a shareholder’s tax basis in the redeemed shares generally will be transferred to the shareholder’s remaining shares in us, if any, and if such shareholder owns no other shares in us, such basis generally may be transferred to a related person or may be lost entirely. Because the determination as to whether a shareholder will satisfy any of the tests of Section 302(b) of the IRC depends upon the facts and circumstances at the time that our shares are redeemed, we urge you to consult your own tax advisor to determine the particular tax treatment of any redemption.
Taxation of Taxable U.S. Shareholders
For noncorporate U.S. shareholders, to the extent that their total adjusted income does not exceed applicable thresholds, the maximum federal income tax rate for long-term capital gains and most corporate dividends is generally 15%. For those noncorporate U.S. shareholders whose total adjusted income exceeds the applicable thresholds, the maximum federal income tax rate for long-term capital gains and most corporate dividends is generally 20%. However, because we are not generally subject to federal income tax on the portion of our “real estate investment trust taxable income” distributed to our shareholders, dividends on our shares generally are not eligible for these preferential tax rates, except that any distribution of C corporation earnings and profits and taxed built-in gain items will potentially be eligible for these preferential tax rates. As a result, our ordinary dividends generally are taxed at the higher federal income tax rates applicable to ordinary income (subject to the lower effective tax rates applicable to qualified REIT dividends via the deduction-without-outlay mechanism of Section 199A of the IRC, which is generally available to our noncorporate U.S. shareholders that meet specified holding period requirements for taxable years before 2026). To summarize, the preferential federal income tax rates for long-term capital gains and for qualified dividends generally apply to:
(1)long-term capital gains, if any, recognized on the disposition of our shares;
(2)our distributions designated as long-term capital gain dividends (except to the extent attributable to real estate depreciation recapture, in which case the distributions are subject to a maximum 25% federal income tax rate);
(3)our dividends attributable to dividend income, if any, received by us from C corporations such as TRSs;
(4)our dividends attributable to earnings and profits that we inherit from C corporations; and
(5)our dividends to the extent attributable to income upon which we have paid federal corporate income tax (such as taxes on foreclosure property income or on built-in gains), net of the corporate income taxes thereon.
As long as we qualify for taxation as a REIT, a distribution to our U.S. shareholders that we do not designate as a capital gain dividend generally will be treated as an ordinary income dividend to the extent of our available current or accumulated earnings and profits (subject to the lower effective tax rates applicable to qualified REIT dividends via the deduction-without-outlay mechanism of Section 199A of the IRC, which is generally available to our noncorporate U.S. shareholders that meet specified holding period requirements for taxable years before 2026). Distributions made out of our current or accumulated earnings and profits that we properly designate as capital gain dividends generally will be taxed as long-term capital gains, as discussed below, to the extent they do not exceed our actual net capital gain for the taxable year. However, corporate shareholders may be required to treat up to 20% of any capital gain dividend as ordinary income under Section 291 of the IRC.
If for any taxable year we designate capital gain dividends for our shareholders, then a portion of the capital gain dividends we designate will be allocated to the holders of a particular class of shares on a percentage basis equal to the ratio of the amount of the total dividends paid or made available for the year to the holders of that class of shares to the total dividends paid or made available for the year to holders of all outstanding classes of our shares. We will similarly designate the portion of any dividend that is to be taxed to noncorporate U.S. shareholders at preferential maximum rates (including any qualified dividend income and any capital gains attributable to real estate depreciation recapture that are subject to a maximum 25% federal income tax rate) so that the designations will be proportionate among all outstanding classes of our shares.
We may elect to retain and pay income taxes on some or all of our net capital gain. In addition, if we so elect by making a timely designation to our shareholders:
(1)each of our U.S. shareholders will be taxed on its designated proportionate share of our retained net capital gains as though that amount were distributed and designated as a capital gain dividend;
(2)each of our U.S. shareholders will receive a credit or refund for its designated proportionate share of the tax that we pay;
(3)each of our U.S. shareholders will increase its adjusted basis in our shares by the excess of the amount of its proportionate share of these retained net capital gains over the U.S. shareholder’s proportionate share of the tax that we pay; and
(4)both we and our corporate shareholders will make commensurate adjustments in our respective earnings and profits for federal income tax purposes.
Distributions in excess of our current or accumulated earnings and profits will not be taxable to a U.S. shareholder to the extent that they do not exceed the shareholder’s adjusted tax basis in our shares, but will reduce the shareholder’s basis in such shares. To the extent that these excess distributions exceed a U.S. shareholder’s adjusted basis in such shares, they will be included in income as capital gain, with long-term gain generally taxed to noncorporate U.S. shareholders at preferential maximum rates. No U.S. shareholder may include on its federal income tax return any of our net operating losses or any of our capital losses. In addition, no portion of any of our dividends is eligible for the dividends received deduction for corporate shareholders.
If a dividend is declared in October, November or December to shareholders of record during one of those months and is paid during the following January, then for federal income tax purposes the dividend will be treated as having been both paid and received on December 31 of the prior taxable year.
A U.S. shareholder will generally recognize gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized and the shareholder’s adjusted basis in our shares that are sold or exchanged. This gain or loss will be capital gain or loss, and will be long-term capital gain or loss if the shareholder’s holding period in our shares exceeds one year. In addition, any loss upon a sale or exchange of our shares held for six months or less will generally be treated as a long-term capital loss to the extent of any long-term capital gain dividends we paid on such shares during the holding period.
U.S. shareholders who are individuals, estates or trusts are generally required to pay a 3.8% Medicare tax on their net investment income (including dividends on our shares (without regard to any deduction allowed by Section 199A of the IRC) and gains from the sale or other disposition of our shares), or in the case of estates and trusts on their net investment income that is not distributed, in each case to the extent that their total adjusted income exceeds applicable thresholds. U.S. shareholders are urged to consult their tax advisors regarding the application of the 3.8% Medicare tax.
If a U.S. shareholder recognizes a loss upon a disposition of our shares in an amount that exceeds a prescribed threshold, it is possible that the provisions of Treasury regulations involving “reportable transactions” could apply, with a resulting requirement to separately disclose the loss-generating transaction to the IRS. These Treasury regulations are written quite broadly, and apply to many routine and simple transactions. A reportable transaction currently includes, among other things, a sale or exchange of our shares resulting in a tax loss in excess of (a) $10 million in any single year or $20 million in a prescribed combination of taxable years in the case of our shares held by a C corporation or by a partnership with only C corporation partners or (b) $2 million in any single year or $4 million in a prescribed combination of taxable years in the case of our shares held by any other partnership or an S corporation, trust or individual, including losses that flow through pass through entities to individuals. A taxpayer discloses a reportable transaction by filing IRS Form 8886 with its federal income tax return and, in the first year of filing, a copy of Form 8886 must be sent to the IRS’s Office of Tax Shelter Analysis. The annual maximum penalty for failing to disclose a reportable transaction is generally $10,000 in the case of a natural person and $50,000 in any other case.
Noncorporate U.S. shareholders who borrow funds to finance their acquisition of our shares could be limited in the amount of deductions allowed for the interest paid on the indebtedness incurred. Under Section 163(d) of the IRC, interest paid or accrued on indebtedness incurred or continued to purchase or carry property held for investment is generally deductible only to the extent of the investor’s net investment income. A U.S. shareholder’s net investment income will include ordinary income dividend distributions received from us and, only if an appropriate election is made by the shareholder, capital gain dividend distributions and qualified dividends received from us; however, distributions treated as a nontaxable return of the shareholder’s basis will not enter into the computation of net investment income.
Taxation of Tax-Exempt U.S. Shareholders
The rules governing the federal income taxation of tax-exempt entities are complex, and the following discussion is intended only as a summary of material considerations of an investment in our shares relevant to such investors. If you are a tax-exempt shareholder, we urge you to consult your own tax advisor to determine the impact of federal, state, local and foreign tax laws, including any tax return filing and other reporting requirements, with respect to your acquisition of or investment in our shares.
We expect that shareholders that are tax-exempt pension plans, individual retirement accounts or other qualifying tax-exempt entities, and that receive (a) distributions from us, or (b) proceeds from the sale of our shares, should not have such amounts treated as UBTI, provided in each case (x) that the shareholder has not financed its acquisition of our shares with “acquisition indebtedness” within the meaning of the IRC, (y) that the shares are not otherwise used in an unrelated trade or business of the tax-exempt entity, and (z) that, consistent with our present intent, we do not hold a residual interest in a real estate mortgage investment conduit or otherwise hold mortgage assets or conduct mortgage securitization activities that generate “excess inclusion” income.
Taxation of Non-U.S. Shareholders
The rules governing the U.S. federal income taxation of non-U.S. shareholders are complex, and the following discussion is intended only as a summary of material considerations of an investment in our shares relevant to such investors. If you are a non-U.S. shareholder, we urge you to consult your own tax advisor to determine the impact of U.S. federal, state, local and foreign tax laws, including any tax return filing and other reporting requirements, with respect to your acquisition of or investment in our shares.
We expect that a non-U.S. shareholder’s receipt of (a) distributions from us, and (b) proceeds from the sale of our shares, will not be treated as income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business and a non-U.S. shareholder will therefore not be subject to the often higher federal tax and withholding rates, branch profits taxes and increased reporting and filing requirements that apply to income effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business. This expectation and a number of the determinations below are predicated on our shares being listed on a U.S. national securities exchange, such as The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, or Nasdaq. Each class of our shares has been listed on a U.S. national securities exchange; however, we cannot be sure that our shares will continue to be so listed in future taxable years or that any class of our shares that we may issue in the future will be so listed.
Distributions. A distribution by us to a non-U.S. shareholder that is not designated as a capital gain dividend will be treated as an ordinary income dividend to the extent that it is made out of our current or accumulated earnings and profits. A distribution of this type will generally be subject to U.S. federal income tax and withholding at the rate of 30%, or at a lower rate if the non-U.S. shareholder has in the manner prescribed by the IRS demonstrated to the applicable withholding agent its entitlement to benefits under a tax treaty. Because we cannot determine our current and accumulated earnings and profits until the end of the taxable year, withholding at the statutory rate of 30% or applicable lower treaty rate will generally be imposed on the gross amount of any distribution to a non-U.S. shareholder that we make and do not designate as a capital gain dividend. Notwithstanding this potential withholding on distributions in excess of our current and accumulated earnings and profits, these excess portions of distributions are a nontaxable return of capital to the extent that they do not exceed the non-U.S. shareholder’s adjusted basis in our shares, and the nontaxable return of capital will reduce the adjusted basis in these shares. To the extent that distributions in excess of our current and accumulated earnings and profits exceed the non-U.S. shareholder’s adjusted basis in our shares, the distributions will give rise to U.S. federal income tax liability only in the unlikely event that the non-U.S. shareholder would otherwise be subject to tax on any gain from the sale or exchange of these shares, as discussed below under the heading “—Dispositions of Our Shares.” A non-U.S. shareholder may seek a refund from the IRS of amounts withheld on distributions to it in excess of such shareholder’s allocable share of our current and accumulated earnings and profits.
For so long as a class of our shares is listed on a U.S. national securities exchange, capital gain dividends that we declare and pay to a non-U.S. shareholder on those shares, as well as dividends to such a non-U.S. shareholder on those shares attributable to our sale or exchange of “United States real property interests” within the meaning of Section 897 of the IRC, or USRPIs, will not be subject to withholding as though those amounts were effectively connected with a U.S. trade or business, and non-U.S. shareholders will not be required to file U.S. federal income tax returns or pay branch profits tax in respect of these dividends. Instead, these dividends will generally be treated as ordinary dividends and subject to withholding in the manner described above.
Tax treaties may reduce the withholding obligations on our distributions. Under some treaties, however, rates below 30% that are applicable to ordinary income dividends from U.S. corporations may not apply to ordinary income dividends from a
REIT or may apply only if the REIT meets specified additional conditions. A non-U.S. shareholder must generally use an applicable IRS Form W-8, or substantially similar form, to claim tax treaty benefits. If the amount of tax withheld with respect to a distribution to a non-U.S. shareholder exceeds the shareholder’s U.S. federal income tax liability with respect to the distribution, the non-U.S. shareholder may file for a refund of the excess from the IRS. Treasury regulations also provide special rules to determine whether, for purposes of determining the applicability of a tax treaty, our distributions to a non-U.S. shareholder that is an entity should be treated as paid to the entity or to those owning an interest in that entity, and whether the entity or its owners are entitled to benefits under the tax treaty.
If, contrary to our expectation, a class of our shares was not listed on a U.S. national securities exchange and we made a distribution on those shares that was attributable to gain from the sale or exchange of a USRPI, then a non-U.S. shareholder holding those shares would be taxed as if the distribution was gain effectively connected with a trade or business in the United States conducted by the non-U.S. shareholder. In addition, the applicable withholding agent would be required to withhold from a distribution to such a non-U.S. shareholder, and remit to the IRS, up to 21% of the maximum amount of any distribution that was or could have been designated as a capital gain dividend. The non-U.S. shareholder also would generally be subject to the same treatment as a U.S. shareholder with respect to the distribution (subject to any applicable alternative minimum tax and a special alternative minimum tax in the case of a nonresident alien individual), would be subject to fulsome U.S. federal income tax return reporting requirements, and, in the case of a corporate non-U.S. shareholder, may owe the up to 30% branch profits tax under Section 884 of the IRC (or lower applicable tax treaty rate) in respect of these amounts.
Although the law is not entirely clear on the matter, it appears that amounts designated by us as undistributed capital gain in respect of our shares that are held by non-U.S. shareholders generally should be treated in the same manner as actual distributions by us of capital gain dividends. Under this approach, the non-U.S. shareholder would be able to offset as a credit against its resulting U.S. federal income tax liability its proportionate share of the tax paid by us on the undistributed capital gain treated as distributed to the non-U.S. shareholder, and receive from the IRS a refund to the extent its proportionate share of the tax paid by us were to exceed the non-U.S. shareholder’s actual U.S. federal income tax liability on such deemed distribution. If we were to designate any portion of our net capital gain as undistributed capital gain, a non-U.S. shareholder should consult its tax advisors regarding taxation of such undistributed capital gain.
Dispositions of Our Shares. If as expected our shares are not USRPIs, then a non-U.S. shareholder’s gain on the sale of these shares generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income taxation or withholding. We expect that our shares will not be USRPIs because one or both of the following exemptions will be available at all times.
First, for so long as a class of our shares is listed on a U.S. national securities exchange, a non-U.S. shareholder’s gain on the sale of those shares will not be subject to U.S. federal income taxation as a sale of a USRPI. Second, our shares will not constitute USRPIs if we are a “domestically controlled” REIT. We will be a “domestically controlled” REIT if less than 50% of the value of our shares (including any future class of shares that we may issue) is held, directly or indirectly, by non-U.S. shareholders at all times during the preceding five years, after applying specified presumptions regarding the ownership of our shares as described in Section 897(h)(4)(E) of the IRC. For these purposes, we believe that the statutory ownership presumptions apply to validate our status as a “domestically controlled” REIT. Accordingly, we believe that we are and will remain a “domestically controlled” REIT.
If, contrary to our expectation, a gain on the sale of our shares is subject to U.S. federal income taxation (for example, because neither of the above exemptions were then available, i.e., that class of our shares were not then listed on a U.S. national securities exchange and we were not a “domestically controlled” REIT), then (a) a non-U.S. shareholder would generally be subject to the same treatment as a U.S. shareholder with respect to its gain (subject to any applicable alternative minimum tax and a special alternative minimum tax in the case of nonresident alien individuals), (b) the non-U.S. shareholder would also be subject to fulsome U.S. federal income tax return reporting requirements, and (c) a purchaser of that class of our shares from the non-U.S. shareholder may be required to withhold 15% of the purchase price paid to the non-U.S. shareholder and to remit the withheld amount to the IRS.
Information Reporting, Backup Withholding, and Foreign Account Withholding
Information reporting, backup withholding, and foreign account withholding may apply to distributions or proceeds paid to our shareholders under the circumstances discussed below. If a shareholder is subject to backup or other U.S. federal income tax withholding, then the applicable withholding agent will be required to withhold the appropriate amount with respect to a deemed or constructive distribution or a distribution in kind even though there is insufficient cash from which to satisfy the withholding obligation. To satisfy this withholding obligation, the applicable withholding agent may collect the amount of U.S. federal income tax required to be withheld by reducing to cash for remittance to the IRS a sufficient portion of the property that the shareholder would otherwise receive or own, and the shareholder may bear brokerage or other costs for this withholding procedure.
Amounts withheld under backup withholding are generally not an additional tax and may be refunded by the IRS or credited against the shareholder’s federal income tax liability, provided that such shareholder timely files for a refund or credit with the IRS. A U.S. shareholder may be subject to backup withholding when it receives distributions on our shares or proceeds upon the sale, exchange, redemption, retirement or other disposition of our shares, unless the U.S. shareholder properly executes, or has previously properly executed, under penalties of perjury an IRS Form W-9 or substantially similar form that:
•provides the U.S. shareholder’s correct taxpayer identification number;
•certifies that the U.S. shareholder is exempt from backup withholding because (a) it comes within an enumerated exempt category, (b) it has not been notified by the IRS that it is subject to backup withholding, or (c) it has been notified by the IRS that it is no longer subject to backup withholding; and
•certifies that it is a U.S. citizen or other U.S. person.
If the U.S. shareholder has not provided and does not provide its correct taxpayer identification number and appropriate certifications on an IRS Form W-9 or substantially similar form, it may be subject to penalties imposed by the IRS, and the applicable withholding agent may have to withhold a portion of any distributions or proceeds paid to such U.S. shareholder. Unless the U.S. shareholder has established on a properly executed IRS Form W-9 or substantially similar form that it comes within an enumerated exempt category, distributions or proceeds on our shares paid to it during the calendar year, and the amount of tax withheld, if any, will be reported to it and to the IRS.
Distributions on our shares to a non-U.S. shareholder during each calendar year and the amount of tax withheld, if any, will generally be reported to the non-U.S. shareholder and to the IRS. This information reporting requirement applies regardless of whether the non-U.S. shareholder is subject to withholding on distributions on our shares or whether the withholding was reduced or eliminated by an applicable tax treaty. Also, distributions paid to a non-U.S. shareholder on our shares will generally be subject to backup withholding, unless the non-U.S. shareholder properly certifies to the applicable withholding agent its non-U.S. shareholder status on an applicable IRS Form W-8 or substantially similar form. Information reporting and backup withholding will not apply to proceeds a non-U.S. shareholder receives upon the sale, exchange, redemption, retirement or other disposition of our shares, if the non-U.S. shareholder properly certifies to the applicable withholding agent its non-U.S. shareholder status on an applicable IRS Form W-8 or substantially similar form. Even without having executed an applicable IRS Form W-8 or substantially similar form, however, in some cases information reporting and backup withholding will not apply to proceeds that a non-U.S. shareholder receives upon the sale, exchange, redemption, retirement or other disposition of our shares if the non-U.S. shareholder receives those proceeds through a broker’s foreign office.
Non-U.S. financial institutions and other non-U.S. entities are subject to diligence and reporting requirements for purposes of identifying accounts and investments held directly or indirectly by U.S. persons. The failure to comply with these additional information reporting, certification and other requirements could result in a 30% U.S. withholding tax on applicable payments to non-U.S. persons, notwithstanding any otherwise applicable provisions of an income tax treaty. In particular, a payee that is a foreign financial institution that is subject to the diligence and reporting requirements described above must enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury requiring, among other things, that it undertake to identify accounts held by “specified United States persons” or “United States owned foreign entities” (each as defined in the IRC and administrative guidance thereunder), annually report information about such accounts, and withhold 30% on applicable payments to noncompliant foreign financial institutions and account holders. Foreign financial institutions located in jurisdictions that have an intergovernmental agreement with the United States with respect to these requirements may be subject to different rules. The foregoing withholding regime generally applies to payments of dividends on our shares. In general, to avoid withholding, any non-U.S. intermediary through which a shareholder owns our shares must establish its compliance with the foregoing regime, and a non-U.S. shareholder must provide specified documentation (usually an applicable IRS Form W-8) containing information about its identity, its status, and if required, its direct and indirect U.S. owners. Non-U.S. shareholders and shareholders who hold our shares through a non-U.S. intermediary are encouraged to consult their own tax advisors regarding foreign account tax compliance.
Other Tax Considerations
Our tax treatment and that of our shareholders may be modified by legislative, judicial or administrative actions at any time, which actions may have retroactive effect. The rules dealing with federal income taxation are constantly under review by the U.S. Congress, the IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and statutory changes, new regulations, revisions to existing regulations and revised interpretations of established concepts are issued frequently. Likewise, the rules regarding taxes other than U.S. federal income taxes may also be modified. No prediction can be made as to the likelihood of passage of new tax legislation or other provisions, or the direct or indirect effect on us and our shareholders. Revisions to tax laws and interpretations of these laws could adversely affect our ability to qualify and be taxed as a REIT, as well as the tax or other
consequences of an investment in our shares. We and our shareholders may also be subject to taxation by state, local or other jurisdictions, including those in which we or our shareholders transact business or reside. These tax consequences may not be comparable to the U.S. federal income tax consequences discussed above.
ERISA PLANS, KEOGH PLANS AND INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS
General Fiduciary Obligations
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, or ERISA, the IRC and similar provisions to those described below under applicable foreign or state law, individually and collectively, impose certain duties on persons who are fiduciaries of any employee benefit plan subject to Title I of ERISA, or an ERISA Plan, or an individual retirement account or annuity, or an IRA, a Roth IRA, a tax-favored account (such as an Archer MSA, Coverdell education savings account or health savings account), a Keogh plan or other qualified retirement plan not subject to Title I of ERISA, each a Non-ERISA Plan. Under ERISA and the IRC, any person who exercises any discretionary authority or control over the administration of, or the management or disposition of the assets of, an ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan, or who renders investment advice for a fee or other compensation to an ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan, is generally considered to be a fiduciary of the ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan.
Fiduciaries of an ERISA Plan must consider whether:
•their investment in our shares or other securities satisfies the diversification requirements of ERISA;
•the investment is prudent in light of possible limitations on the marketability of our shares;
•they have authority to acquire our shares or other securities under the applicable governing instrument and Title I of ERISA; and
•the investment is otherwise consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities.
Fiduciaries of an ERISA Plan may incur personal liability for any loss suffered by the ERISA Plan on account of a violation of their fiduciary responsibilities. In addition, these fiduciaries may be subject to a civil penalty of up to 20% of any amount recovered by the ERISA Plan on account of a violation. Fiduciaries of any Non-ERISA Plan should consider that the Non-ERISA Plan may only make investments that are authorized by the appropriate governing instrument and applicable law.
Fiduciaries considering an investment in our securities should consult their own legal advisors if they have any concern as to whether the investment is consistent with the foregoing criteria or is otherwise appropriate. The sale of our securities to an ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan is in no respect a representation by us or any underwriter of the securities that the investment meets all relevant legal requirements with respect to investments by the arrangements generally or any particular arrangement, or that the investment is appropriate for arrangements generally or any particular arrangement.
Fiduciaries of ERISA Plans and persons making the investment decision for Non-ERISA Plans should consider the application of the prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA and the IRC in making their investment decision. Sales and other transactions between an ERISA Plan or a Non-ERISA Plan and disqualified persons or parties in interest, as applicable, are prohibited transactions and result in adverse consequences absent an exemption. The particular facts concerning the sponsorship, operations and other investments of an ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan may cause a wide range of persons to be treated as disqualified persons or parties in interest with respect to it. A non-exempt prohibited transaction, in addition to imposing potential personal liability upon ERISA Plan fiduciaries, may also result in the imposition of an excise tax under the IRC or a penalty under ERISA upon the disqualified person or party in interest. If the disqualified person who engages in the transaction is the individual on behalf of whom an IRA, Roth IRA or other tax-favored account is maintained (or their beneficiary), the IRA, Roth IRA or other tax-favored account may lose its tax-exempt status and its assets may be deemed to have been distributed to the individual in a taxable distribution on account of the non-exempt prohibited transaction, but no excise tax will be imposed. Fiduciaries considering an investment in our securities should consult their own legal advisors as to whether the ownership of our securities involves a non-exempt prohibited transaction.
“Plan Assets” Considerations
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a regulation defining “plan assets.” The regulation, as subsequently modified by ERISA, generally provides that when an ERISA Plan or a Non-ERISA Plan otherwise subject to Title I of ERISA and/or Section 4975 of the IRC acquires an interest in an entity that is neither a “publicly offered security” nor a security issued by an
investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended, the assets of the ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan include both the equity interest and an undivided interest in each of the underlying assets of the entity, unless it is established either that the entity is an operating company or that equity participation in the entity by benefit plan investors is not significant. We are not an investment company registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended.
Each class of our equity (that is, our common shares and any other class of equity that we may issue) must be analyzed separately to ascertain whether it is a publicly offered security. The regulation defines a publicly offered security as a security that is “widely held,” “freely transferable” and either part of a class of securities registered under the Exchange Act, or sold under an effective registration statement under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, provided the securities are registered under the Exchange Act within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year of the issuer during which the offering occurred. Each class of our outstanding shares has been registered under the Exchange Act within the necessary time frame to satisfy the foregoing condition.
The regulation provides that a security is “widely held” only if it is part of a class of securities that is owned by 100 or more investors independent of the issuer and of one another. However, a security will not fail to be “widely held” because the number of independent investors falls below 100 subsequent to the initial public offering as a result of events beyond the issuer’s control. Although we cannot be sure, we believe our common shares have been and will remain widely held, and we expect the same to be true of any future class of equity that we may issue.
The regulation provides that whether a security is “freely transferable” is a factual question to be determined on the basis of all relevant facts and circumstances. The regulation further provides that, where a security is part of an offering in which the minimum investment is $10,000 or less, some restrictions on transfer ordinarily will not, alone or in combination, affect a finding that these securities are freely transferable. The restrictions on transfer enumerated in the regulation as not affecting that finding include:
•any restriction on or prohibition against any transfer or assignment that would result in a termination or reclassification for federal or state tax purposes, or would otherwise violate any state or federal law or court order;
•any requirement that advance notice of a transfer or assignment be given to the issuer and any requirement that either the transferor or transferee, or both, execute documentation setting forth representations as to compliance with any restrictions on transfer that are among those enumerated in the regulation as not affecting free transferability, including those described in the preceding clause of this sentence;
•any administrative procedure that establishes an effective date, or an event prior to which a transfer or assignment will not be effective; and
•any limitation or restriction on transfer or assignment that is not imposed by the issuer or a person acting on behalf of the issuer.
We believe that the restrictions imposed under our declaration of trust on the transfer of shares do not result in the failure of our shares to be “freely transferable.” Furthermore, we believe that no other facts or circumstances limiting the transferability of our shares exist, other than those that are enumerated under the regulation as not affecting the free transferability of shares. In addition, we do not expect or intend to impose in the future, or to permit any person to impose on our behalf, any limitations or restrictions on transfer that would not be among the enumerated permissible limitations or restrictions.
Assuming that each class of our shares will be “widely held” and that no other facts and circumstances exist that restrict transferability of these shares, our counsel, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, is of the opinion that our shares will not fail to be “freely transferable” for purposes of the regulation due to the restrictions on transfer of our shares in our declaration of trust and that under the regulation each class of our currently outstanding shares is publicly offered and our assets will not be deemed to be “plan assets” of any ERISA Plan or Non-ERISA Plan that acquires our shares in a public offering. This opinion is conditioned upon certain assumptions and representations, as discussed above under the heading “Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Taxation as a REIT.”
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Summary of Risk Factors
Our business is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. The following is a summary of the principal risk factors described in this section:
•we may be unable to renew our leases when they expire or lease our properties to new tenants without decreasing rents or incurring significant costs or at all;
•unfavorable market and economic conditions due to, among other things, rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain challenges, volatility in the public equity and debt markets and in commercial real estate markets, generally, reductions in government spending to fund their obligations, pandemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) or other adverse public health safety events or conditions, geopolitical instability (such as the war in Ukraine), and other conditions beyond our control, may have a material adverse effect on our and our tenants’ results of operations and financial conditions, and our tenants may be unable to satisfy their lease obligations to us;
•remote and other alternative work arrangements and changes in space utilization and other business practices may reduce the demand for office leasing and some tenants have the right to terminate their leases prior to their lease expiration date;
•our concentration of investments in properties leased to private sector single or majority tenants and the U.S. government, and in properties located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, may subject us to risks associated with bankruptcy, insolvency, a downturn of business or a lease termination of such single or majority tenants, government budgetary pressures and priorities and trends and other fiscal pressures and a downturn in economic conditions or a possible recession;
•our capital recycling program, development or redevelopment projects or potential future acquisitions may not be successful or may not be executed on the terms or within the timing we expect as a result of competition, current market and economic conditions, including capital market disruptions, rising or sustained high interest rates, or otherwise;
•we are subject to risks related to our debt, including covenants and conditions contained in our debt agreements which may restrict our operations and ability to make investments and to pay distributions to our shareholders, our ability to manage our leverage at a level we believe appropriate, potential downgrades to our credit ratings and other limitations on our ability to access capital at reasonable costs or at all, including the limited availability of debt capital to office REITs generally;
•we are subject to risks related to our qualification for taxation as a REIT, including REIT distribution requirements;
•ownership of real estate is subject to environmental risks and liabilities, as well as risks from adverse weather, natural disasters and climate change and climate related events;
•insurance may not adequately cover our losses, and insurance costs may continue to increase;
•we are subject to risks related to our dependence upon RMR to implement our business strategies and manage our day to day operations;
•we are subject to risks related to the security of RMR’s information technology;
•our management structure and agreements with RMR and our relationships with our related parties, including our Managing Trustees, RMR and others affiliated with them, may create conflicts of interest;
•ESG initiatives, requirements and market expectations may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks;
•provisions in our declaration of trust, bylaws and other agreements, as well as certain provisions of Maryland law, may deter, delay or prevent a change in our control or unsolicited acquisition proposals, limit our rights and the rights of our shareholders to take action against our Trustees and officers or limit our shareholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for certain disputes; and
•we may change our operational, financing and investment policies without shareholder approval, and we may reduce the rate of or eliminate our distributions to shareholders or the form of payment could change.
The risks described below may not be the only risks we face but are risks we believe may be material at this time. Other risks of which we are not yet aware, or that we currently believe are not material, may also materially and adversely impact our business operations or financial results. If any of the events or circumstances described below occurs, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations or ability to pay distributions to our shareholders could be adversely impacted and the value of an investment in our securities could decline. Investors and prospective investors should consider the risks described below and the information contained under the caption “Warning Concerning Forward-Looking Statements” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K before deciding whether to invest in our securities. We may update these risk factors in our future periodic reports.
Risks Related to Our Business
We may be unable to lease our properties when our leases expire.
Leases representing approximately 11.2% and 14.7% of our annual rental income are scheduled to expire in each of 2023 and 2024, respectively. Although we typically will seek to renew or extend the terms of leases for our properties with tenants when they expire, we cannot be sure that we will be successful in doing so. Increases in remote and other alternative work arrangements and changes in space utilization, as well as economic conditions, including high inflation and government spending and budget priorities may cause our tenants not to renew or extend their leases when they expire, or to seek to renew their leases for less space than they currently occupy. Our scheduled lease expirations in 2023 and thereafter are significantly higher than in prior recent years. If we are unable to extend or renew our leases, or we renew leases for reduced space, it may be time consuming and expensive to relet some of these properties to new tenants.
We may experience declining rents or incur significant costs to renew our leases with current tenants or lease our properties to new tenants, and any rent increases that we do achieve may not exceed increased costs we may incur.
When we renew our leases with current tenants or lease to new tenants, we may experience rent decreases, and we may have to spend substantial amounts for leasing commissions, tenant improvements or other tenant inducements. Moreover, many of our properties have been specially designed for the particular businesses of our tenants; if the current leases for those properties are terminated or are not renewed, we may be required to renovate those properties at substantial costs, decrease the rents we charge or provide other concessions in order to lease those properties to new tenants. In addition, any rent increases that we do achieve may not exceed our costs associated with renewing our leases with current tenants or leasing our properties to new tenants, which costs have and are expected to continue to increase as a result of rising interest rates, high inflation and supply chain challenges, among other things.
Unfavorable market, economic and commercial real estate conditions may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
Our business may be adversely affected by market, economic and commercial real estate conditions in the U.S. and global economies, and/or the local economies in the markets in which our properties are located. Unfavorable market, economic and commercial real estate conditions may be due to, among other things, rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain disruptions, volatility in the public equity and debt markets, pandemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), geopolitical instability (such as the war in Ukraine), and other conditions beyond our control. Because economic conditions in the United States may affect the demand for leased space, real estate values, occupancy levels and property income, current and future economic conditions in the United States, including slower growth or a recession and capital market volatility or disruptions, could have a material adverse impact on our earnings and financial condition. Economic conditions may be affected by numerous factors, including, but not limited to, the pace of economic growth and/or recessionary concerns, inflation, increases in the levels of unemployment, energy prices, uncertainty about government fiscal and tax policy, geopolitical events, the regulatory environment, the availability of credit and interest rates. Current conditions, or similar conditions existing in the future, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
Our business depends upon our tenants satisfying their lease obligations to us, which, with respect to our private sector tenants, depends, to a large degree, on those tenants’ abilities to successfully operate their businesses, and, with respect to our government tenants, depends on discretionary funding from federal, state and local governments.
Our business depends on our tenants satisfying their lease obligations to us. The financial capacities of our private sector tenants to pay us rent will depend upon their abilities to successfully operate their businesses, which may be adversely affected
by factors over which we and they have no control, including market and economic conditions, such as rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, supply chain challenges and economic downturns or recessions. The failure of our private sector tenants and any applicable parent guarantor to satisfy their lease obligations to us, whether due to a downturn in their business or otherwise, could materially and adversely affect us.
In addition, our government tenants are subject to discretionary funding from federal, state and local governments, as applicable. Federal government programs are subject to annual congressional budget authorization and appropriation processes, and state and local government programs are often subject to similar processes. For many federal programs, Congress appropriates funds on a fiscal year basis even though the program performance period may extend over several years. Laws and plans adopted by federal, state and local governments relating to, along with pressures on and uncertainty surrounding, budgets, potential changes in priorities and spending levels, sequestration, the appropriations process and the permissible debt limits, could adversely affect the funding for our government tenants. The budget environment and uncertainty surrounding the appropriations processes remain significant long-term risks as budget cuts could adversely affect the ability of our government tenants to pay us rent.
Remote and other alternative work arrangements and changes in space utilization and other business practices may reduce the demand for office leasing.
Changes in space utilization accelerated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased remote and other alternative work arrangements, continue to impact the market for both private sector and government tenants. It is uncertain to what extent and for how long such remote or other alternative work arrangements may continue. In addition, it is possible that hybrid work arrangements could continue or increase, such as workspace sharing or hoteling of office space. To the extent these practices become permanent or further increase, demand for leased space, including at our properties, may decline. As a result of these factors, our tenant retention levels could decline and we may experience reduced rent or incur increased costs under future new or renewal leases.
Some of our properties depend upon a private sector single or majority tenant for all or a significant portion of their rental income; therefore, our financial condition, including our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders, may be adversely affected by bankruptcy or insolvency, a downturn in the business, or a lease termination of such a single or majority tenant.
As of December 31, 2022, 43.8% of our annualized rental income was from our properties leased to private sector single tenants or majority occupied tenants. The value of the properties leased to these tenants is materially dependent on their performance under their respective leases. These tenants face competition within their industries and other factors that could reduce their ability to pay us rent. Lease payment defaults by these tenants could cause us to reduce the amount of distributions that we pay to our shareholders. A default by a single or majority tenant, the failure of a guarantor to fulfill its obligations or other premature termination of a lease to such a tenant or such tenant’s election not to extend a lease upon its expiration could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, liquidity and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
We currently have a concentration of properties in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market area and are exposed to changes in market conditions in this area.
As of December 31, 2022, we derived approximately 22.6% of our annualized rental income from our consolidated properties located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market area. In addition, the three properties owned by two joint ventures in which we own 51% and 50% interests are also located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market area. A downturn in economic conditions in this area or a possible recession, including as a result of current inflationary conditions or otherwise, could result in reduced demand from tenants for our properties, reduced rents that our tenants in this area are willing to pay when our leases expire and increased lease concessions for new leases and renewals. Additionally, there has been a decrease in demand for new leased space by the U.S. government in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market area, and that could increase competition for government tenants and adversely affect our ability to retain government tenants when our leases expire. Thus, adverse developments and/or conditions in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market area could reduce demand for space, impact the credit worthiness of our tenants or force our tenants to curtail operations, which could impair their ability to meet their rent obligations to us and, accordingly, could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, liquidity and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
Government budgetary pressures and priorities and trends in government employment and office leasing, including remote working and other space utilization trends, may adversely impact our business.
We believe that recent government budgetary and spending priorities and enhancements in technology during the pandemic have resulted in a decrease in government office use for employees. Furthermore, over the past several years, government
tenants have reduced their space utilization per employee and consolidated government tenants into existing government owned properties. This activity has reduced the demand for government leased space. Our historical experience with respect to properties of the type we own that are majority leased to government tenants has been that government tenants have generally renewed leases to avoid the costs and disruptions that may result from relocating their operations. However, efforts to manage space utilization rates may result in our tenants exercising early termination rights under our leases, vacating our properties upon expiration of our leases in order to relocate to government owned properties or consolidated leased space within a market, or renewing their leases for less space than they currently occupy. Also, our government tenants’ desire to reconfigure leased office space to manage utilization per employee may require us to spend significant amounts for tenant improvements, and tenant relocations are often more prevalent in those circumstances. Increasing uncertainty with respect to government agency budgets and funding to implement relocations, consolidations and reconfigurations has, in some instances, resulted in delayed decisions by some of our government tenants and more focus on short term lease renewals. Given the significant uncertainties, including the extent to which remote or alternative work arrangements may continue or increase, we are unable to reasonably project what the financial impact of market conditions or changing government circumstances will be on the demand for leased space at our properties and our financial results for future periods.
A prolonged U.S. government shutdown may adversely impact our operations, financial results and liquidity.
Under our leases with the U.S. government, the tenants pay us rent monthly in arrears. If the U.S. government experiences a prolonged shutdown, these tenants may not pay us rent during the pendency of the shutdown. Although we expect that these tenants would pay us any outstanding rents after the shutdown ends, our available cash and leverage targets may be adversely impacted during the period we do not receive rents from these tenants. A failure to receive rents during a government shutdown may impair our ability to fund our operations and investments, pay our debt obligations, make capital expenditures and pay distributions to our shareholders. In addition, the impact of a prolonged government shutdown on government personnel resources could hinder our ability to renew expiring leases or initiate or complete renovation, construction and other capital maintenance of the affected properties. Moreover, some of our tenants are government contractors that rely on government business. If a government shutdown results in our government contractor tenants not paying us rent, the negative impact on us from a government shutdown may be compounded.
Our capital recycling program may not be successful.
Through our capital recycling program, we seek to selectively sell certain properties from time to time to fund future acquisitions, capital requirements and to manage leverage at a level we believe appropriate with a goal of (1) improving the asset quality of our portfolio through diversification of property types, by reducing the average age of our properties, lengthening the weighted average lease term of our leases and increasing the likelihood of retaining our tenants and (2) increasing our cash available for distribution. However, our ability to sell our properties we identify for sale, and the prices we receive upon a sale, may be affected by many factors. In particular, these factors could arise from weakness in or the lack of an established market for a property, changes in the financial condition of prospective purchasers and the availability of financing to potential purchasers on reasonable terms, the number of prospective purchasers, the number of competing properties on the market, unfavorable local, national or international economic conditions, such as rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, supply chain challenges and economic downturns or recessions, and changes in laws, regulations or fiscal policies of jurisdictions in which the property is located. For example, current market conditions have caused, and may continue to cause, increased capitalization rates which, together with rising interest rates, has resulted in reduced commercial real estate transaction volume, and such conditions may continue or worsen. We may not succeed in selling properties that we identify for sale, the terms of any such sales may not meet our expectations and we may incur losses in connection with those sales. Further, we may not succeed in identifying and acquiring properties that improve the asset quality of our portfolio and enable us to increase our cash available for distribution and we may not succeed in managing leverage at levels we believe appropriate. As a result, our capital recycling program may not be successful.
We are exposed to risks associated with property development, redevelopment and repositioning that could adversely affect us, including our financial condition and results of operations.
We currently have properties under development and we intend to continue to engage in development, redevelopment and repositioning activities with respect to our properties, and, as a result, we are subject to certain risks, which could adversely affect us, including our financial condition and results of operations. These risks include cost overruns and untimely completion of construction due to, among other things, weather conditions, inflation, labor or material shortages or delays in receiving permits or other governmental approvals, as well as the availability and pricing of financing on favorable terms or at all. Recent supply chain constraints and commodity pricing and other inflation, including inflation impacting wages and employee benefits, have resulted in increased costs for materials, other goods and labor, including construction materials, and some delays in construction activities, and these conditions may continue and worsen. These risks could result in substantial unanticipated delays and increased development and renovation costs and could prevent the initiation or the completion of development,
redevelopment or repositioning activities. In addition, changes to demand for leased space and increased vacancies due to continued increases in remote and other alternative work arrangements and changes in space utilization, as well as current economic conditions and volatility in the commercial real estate markets, generally, may cause delays in leasing these properties or possible loss of tenancies and negatively impact our ability to generate cash flows from these properties that meet or exceed our cost of investment. Any of these risks associated with our current or future development, redevelopment and repositioning activities could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unable to grow our business by acquiring additional properties, and we might encounter unanticipated difficulties and expenditures relating to our acquired properties.
Our business plan includes the acquisition of additional properties. Our ability to make profitable acquisitions is subject to risks, including, but not limited to, risks associated with:
•competition from other investors;
•contingencies in our acquisition agreements;
•the availability, terms and cost of debt and equity capital; and
•the extent of our debt leverage.
These risks may limit our ability to grow our business by acquiring additional properties. In addition, we might encounter unanticipated difficulties and expenditures relating to our acquired properties. For example:
•notwithstanding pre-acquisition due diligence, we could acquire a property that contains undisclosed defects in design or construction or unknown liabilities, including those related to undisclosed environmental contamination, or our analyses and assumptions for the properties may prove to be incorrect, or we could receive rental revenues less than we expect at an acquired property due to tenant vacancies, changed economic conditions or otherwise;
•an acquired property may be located in a new market where we may face risks associated with investing in an unfamiliar market;
•the market in which an acquired property is located may experience unexpected changes that adversely affect the property’s value; and
•property operating costs for our acquired properties may be higher than anticipated and our acquired properties may not yield expected returns.
For these reasons, among others, we might not realize the anticipated benefits of our acquisitions, and our business plan to acquire additional properties may not succeed or may cause us to experience losses.
REIT distribution requirements and limitations on our ability to access capital at reasonable costs or at all may adversely impact our ability to carry out our business plan.
To maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC, we are required to satisfy distribution requirements imposed by the IRC. See “Material United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—REIT Qualification Requirements—Annual Distribution Requirements” included in Part I, Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Accordingly, we may not be able to retain sufficient cash to fund our operations, repay our debts, invest in our properties or fund our acquisitions or development, redevelopment or repositioning efforts. Our business strategies therefore depend, in part, upon our ability to raise additional capital at reasonable costs. We may be unable to raise capital at reasonable costs or at all because of reasons related to our business, market perceptions of our prospects, the terms of our existing debt, the extent of our leverage or for reasons beyond our control, such as capital market volatility, rising or sustained high interest rates and other market conditions. For example, decreased demand for leased space and increased vacancies due to continued increases in remote and other alternative work arrangements and changes in space utilization, as well as current economic conditions, have negatively impacted the availability of debt capital to office REITs on reasonable terms or at all. Because the earnings we are permitted to retain are limited by the rules governing REIT qualification and taxation, if we are unable to raise reasonably priced capital, we may not be able to carry out our business plan.
We face significant competition.
We face significant competition for acquisition opportunities from other investors, including publicly traded and private REITs, numerous financial institutions, individuals, foreign investors and other public and private companies. Some of our competitors may have greater financial and other resources than us, and may be able to accept more risk than we can prudently manage, including risks with respect to the creditworthiness of tenants and guarantors and the extent of leverage used in their capital structure. Because of competition for acquisitions, we may be unable to acquire desirable properties or we may pay higher prices for, and realize lower net cash flows than we hope to achieve from, acquisitions.
We also face competition for tenants at our properties. Some competing properties may be newer, better located or more attractive to tenants. Competing properties may have lower rates of occupancy than our properties, which may result in competing owners offering available space at lower rents than we offer at our properties. Development activities may increase the supply of properties of the type we own in the leasing markets in which we own properties and increase the competition we face. Competition may make it difficult for us to attract and retain tenants and may reduce the rents we are able to charge and the values of our properties.
Some tenants have the right to terminate their leases prior to their lease expiration date.
Some of our leases allow the tenants to vacate the leased premises before the stated terms of the leases expire with little or no liability. In particular:
•Tenants occupying approximately 2.4% of our rentable square feet and responsible for approximately 2.3% of our annualized rental income as of December 31, 2022 have currently exercisable rights to terminate their leases before the stated term of their leases expire.
•As of December 31, 2022, pursuant to leases with 10 of our tenants, these tenants have rights to terminate their leases if their respective legislature or other funding authority does not appropriate rent amounts in their respective annual budgets. These 10 tenants represented approximately 5.5% of our rentable square feet and 6.1% of our annualized rental income as of December 31, 2022.
For various reasons, some or all of our tenants may decide to exercise early termination rights under our leases or vacate our properties upon expiration of our leases. If a significant number of our leases are terminated pursuant to these termination rights, our income and cash flow may materially decline, our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders may be negatively impacted and the values of our properties may decline.
We have debt and we may incur additional debt.
As of December 31, 2022, our consolidated debt was $2.5 billion. As of December 31, 2022 and February 14, 2023, we had $195.0 million and $220.0 million outstanding under our revolving credit facility and $555.0 million and $530.0 million available for borrowing, respectively. Our credit agreement includes a feature under which the maximum borrowing availability may be increased to up to $1.95 billion in certain circumstances.
We are subject to numerous risks associated with our debt, including the risk that our cash flows could be insufficient for us to make required payments and risks associated with increases in and sustained high market interest rates. There are no limits in our organizational documents on the amount of debt we may incur, and we may incur substantial debt. Our debt may increase our vulnerability to adverse market and economic conditions, limit our flexibility in planning for changes in our business and place us at a disadvantage in relation to competitors that have lower debt levels. Our debt could increase our costs of capital, limit our ability to incur additional debt in the future, and increase our exposure to floating interest rates or expose us to potential events of default (if not cured or waived) under covenants contained in debt instruments that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results. Rising interest rates have significantly increased, and may continue to significantly increase, our interest expense. Excessive or expensive debt could reduce the available cash flow to fund, or limit our ability to obtain financing for, working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, development or redevelopment projects, refinancing, lease obligations or other purposes and hinder our ability to achieve or maintain investment grade ratings from nationally recognized credit rating agencies or to pay distributions to our shareholders.
If we default under any of our debt obligations, we may be in default under other debt agreements of ours that have cross default provisions, including our credit agreement and our senior unsecured notes indentures and their supplements. In such case, our lenders or noteholders may demand immediate payment of any outstanding debt and we could be forced to liquidate our assets for less than the values we would receive in a more orderly process.
We may fail to comply with the terms of our debt agreements, which could adversely affect our business and prohibit us from paying distributions to our shareholders.
Our debt agreements include various conditions, covenants and events of default. We may not be able to satisfy all of these conditions or may default on some of these covenants for various reasons, including for reasons beyond our control. Complying with these covenants may limit our ability to take actions that may be beneficial to us and our security holders.
Our credit agreement and our senior unsecured notes indentures and their supplements require us to comply with certain financial and other covenants. Our ability to comply with those covenants will depend upon the net rental income we receive from our properties. If the occupancy at our properties declines or if our rents decline, we may be unable to borrow under our revolving credit facility. If we are unable to borrow under our revolving credit facility, we may be unable to meet our obligations or grow our business by acquiring additional properties or otherwise. If we default under our credit agreement, our lenders may demand immediate payment and may elect not to fund future borrowings. During the continuance of any event of default under our credit agreement, we may be limited or, in some cases, prohibited from paying distributions to our shareholders. Any default under our credit agreement that results in acceleration of our obligations to repay outstanding debt or in our no longer being permitted to borrow under our revolving credit facility would likely have serious adverse consequences to us and would likely cause the value of our securities to decline.
In the future, we may obtain additional debt financing, and the covenants and conditions applicable to that debt may be more restrictive than the covenants and conditions that are contained in our existing debt agreements.
Increases in market interest rates have significantly increased our interest expense and may otherwise materially and negatively affect us.
Recent increases in market interest rates have significantly increased our interest expense. In response to significant and prolonged increases in inflation, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates several times since the beginning of 2022 and has announced an expectation that interest rates will continue to rise. The timing, number and amount of any future interest rate increases, and the duration that those increased rates will be in effect, are uncertain. Interest rate increases may materially and negatively affect us in several ways, including:
•investors may consider whether to buy or sell our common shares based upon the distribution rate on our common shares relative to the then prevailing market interest rates. If market interest rates continue to rise or remain at elevated levels, investors may expect a higher distribution rate than we are able to pay, which may increase our cost of capital, or they may sell our common shares and seek alternative investments that offer higher distribution rates. Sales of our common shares may cause a decline in the value of our common shares;
•amounts outstanding under our revolving credit facility require interest to be paid at floating interest rates. When interest rates increase, our interest costs will increase, which could adversely affect our cash flows, our ability to pay principal and interest on our debt, our cost of refinancing our fixed rate debts when they become due and our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders. Additionally, if we choose to hedge our interest rate risk, we cannot be sure that the hedge will be effective or that our hedging counterparty will meet its obligations to us; and
•property values are often determined, in part, based upon a capitalization of rental income formula. When market interest rates increase or remain at elevated levels, real estate transaction volumes often slow due to increased borrowing costs, which the commercial real estate market is currently experiencing, and property investors often demand higher capitalization rates and that causes property values to decline. Increases in or continued elevated levels of interest rates could lower the value of our properties and cause the value of our securities to decline.
In addition, as noted in Part II, Item 7A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, LIBOR has been phased out for new contracts and is expected to be phased out for pre-existing contracts by June 30, 2023. We are required to pay interest on borrowings under our revolving credit facility at floating rates based on LIBOR, and interest we may pay on any future borrowings under our revolving credit facility may also require that we pay interest based upon LIBOR. We currently expect that the determination of interest under our revolving credit facility will be revised as provided under our credit agreement or amended as necessary to provide for an alternative interest rate index. We expect that the alternative interest rate index would likely be the secured overnight financing rate, or SOFR, because interest rates based on SOFR have gained significant market adoption as the replacement to LIBOR for debt facilities similar to ours. Despite our current expectations, we cannot be sure that any changes to the determination of interest under our credit agreement would approximate the current calculation in accordance with LIBOR. We cannot be certain of what standard, if any, will replace LIBOR, and any alternative interest rate index that may replace LIBOR may result in changes to the amount of interest we are required to pay and could result in our paying increased interest amounts.
A further downgrade in our credit ratings may increase our cost of capital and could otherwise materially adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Our outstanding senior unsecured debt is rated investment grade by S&P Global Ratings. In determining our credit ratings, the rating agencies consider a number of both quantitative and qualitative factors, including earnings, fixed charges, cash flows, total debt outstanding, total secured debt, off balance sheet obligations, total capitalization and various ratios calculated from these factors. The rating agencies also consider predictability of cash flows, business strategy, joint venture activity, property development risks, industry conditions and contingencies. Therefore, deterioration in our operating performance may put further pressure on our investment grade rating. In November 2022, Moody’s downgraded our corporate credit rating from Baa3 with a stable outlook to Ba1. Although our corporate credit rating at S&P Global Ratings currently remains “BBB-” with a negative outlook, we cannot be sure that our credit ratings will not be lowered further or withdrawn in their entirety. A negative change in our ratings outlook or any further downgrade in our current investment grade credit ratings by rating agencies could adversely affect our cost and access to sources of liquidity and capital. Additionally, a further downgrade could, among other things, further increase the costs of borrowing under our revolving credit facility, adversely impact our ability to obtain unsecured debt or refinance our unsecured debt on competitive terms in the future, or require us to take certain actions to support our obligations, any of which would adversely affect our business and financial condition.
Ownership of real estate is subject to environmental risks and liabilities.
Ownership of real estate is subject to risks associated with environmental hazards. Under various laws, owners as well as tenants of real estate may be required to investigate and clean up or remove hazardous substances present at or migrating from properties they own, lease or operate and may be held liable for property damage or personal injuries that result from hazardous substances. These laws also expose us to the possibility that we may become liable to government agencies or third parties for costs and damages they incur in connection with hazardous substances. The costs and damages that may arise from environmental hazards may be substantial and are difficult to assess and estimate for numerous reasons, including uncertainty about the extent of contamination, alternative treatment methods that may be applied, the location of the property which subjects it to differing local laws and regulations and their interpretations, as well as the time it may take to remediate contamination. In addition, these laws also impose various requirements regarding the operation and maintenance of properties and recordkeeping and reporting requirements relating to environmental matters that require us or the tenants of our properties to incur costs to comply with.
While our leases with non-government tenants generally require our tenants to operate in compliance with applicable law and to indemnify us against any environmental liabilities arising from their activities on our properties, applicable law may make us subject to strict liability by virtue of our ownership interests. Also, our tenants may have insufficient financial resources to satisfy their indemnification obligations under our leases or they may resist doing so. The U.S. government is not required to indemnify us for environmental hazards they create at our properties and therefore could hold us liable for environmental hazards they create at our properties and we could have no recourse to them. We may incur substantial liabilities and costs for environmental matters.
We are subject to risks from adverse weather, natural disasters and climate change and climate related events, and we incur significant costs and invest significant amounts with respect to these matters.
We are subject to risks and could be exposed to additional costs from adverse weather, natural disasters and climate change and climate related events. For example, our properties could be severely damaged or destroyed from either singular extreme weather events (such as floods, storms and wildfires) or through long-term impacts of climatic conditions (such as precipitation frequency, weather instability and rise of sea levels). Such events could also adversely impact us or the tenants of our properties if we or they are unable to operate our or their businesses due to damage resulting from such events. Insurance may not adequately cover all losses sustained by us or the tenants of our properties. If we fail to adequately prepare for such events, our revenues, results of operations and financial condition may be impacted. In addition, we may incur significant costs in preparing for possible future climate change or climate related events or in response to our tenants’ requests for such investments and we may not realize desirable returns on those investments.
RMR relies on information technology and systems in providing services to us, and any material failure, inadequacy, interruption or security breach of that technology or those systems could materially harm us.
RMR relies on information technology and systems, including the Internet and cloud-based infrastructures, commercially available software and its internally developed applications, to process, transmit, store and safeguard information and to manage or support a variety of its business processes (including managing our building systems), including financial transactions and maintenance of records, which may include personal identifying information of employees, tenants and guarantors and lease data. If we or our third party vendors experience material security or other failures, inadequacies or interruptions in our or their
information technology systems, we could incur material costs and losses and our operations could be disrupted. RMR takes various actions, and incurs significant costs, to maintain and protect the operation and security of information technology and systems, including the data maintained in those systems. However, these measures may not prevent the systems’ improper functioning or a compromise in security such as in the event of a cyberattack or the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information.
Security breaches, computer viruses, attacks by hackers, online fraud schemes and similar breaches have created and can create significant system disruptions, shutdowns, fraudulent transfer of assets or unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyberattack or cyber intrusion, including by computer hackers, foreign governments and cyber terrorists, has generally increased as the intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. The cybersecurity risks to us or our third party vendors are heightened by, among other things, the evolving nature of the threats faced, advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography and new and increasingly sophisticated methods used to perpetrate illegal or fraudulent activities, including cyberattacks, email or wire fraud and other attacks exploiting security vulnerabilities in RMR’s or other third parties’ information technology networks and systems or operations. Although much of RMR’s staff returned to its offices during the pandemic, flexible working arrangements have resulted in a higher extent of remote working than it experienced prior to the pandemic. This and other possible changing work practices have adversely impacted, and may in the future adversely impact, RMR’s ability to maintain the security, proper function and availability of its information technology and systems since remote working by its employees could strain its technology resources and introduce operational risk, including heightened cybersecurity risk. Remote working environments may be less secure and more susceptible to hacking attacks, including phishing and social engineering attempts that have sought, and may seek, to exploit remote working environments. In addition, RMR’s data security, data privacy, investor reporting and business continuity processes could be impacted by a third party’s inability to perform in a remote work environment or by the failure of, or attack on, their information systems and technology. Any failure by RMR or other third party vendors to maintain the security, proper function and availability of their respective information technology and systems could result in financial losses, interrupt our operations, damage our reputation, cause us to be in default of material contracts and subject us to liability claims or regulatory penalties, any of which could materially and adversely affect our business and the value of our securities.
ESG initiatives, requirements and market expectations may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks.
There is an increasing focus from investors, tenants, including the General Services Administration, and other stakeholders and regulators concerning corporate sustainability. Some investors may use ESG factors to guide their investment strategies and, in some cases, may choose not to invest in us, or otherwise do business with us, if they believe our or RMR’s policies relating to corporate sustainability are inadequate. Third party providers of corporate sustainability ratings and reports on companies have increased in number, resulting in varied and, in some cases, inconsistent standards. In addition, the criteria by which companies’ corporate sustainability practices are assessed are evolving, which could result in greater expectations of us and RMR and cause us and RMR to undertake costly initiatives to satisfy such new criteria. Alternatively, if we or RMR elect not to or are unable to satisfy such new criteria or do not meet the criteria of a specific third party provider, some investors may conclude that our or RMR’s policies with respect to corporate sustainability are inadequate. In July 2022, RMR announced its zero emissions goal pursuant to which it has pledged to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions to net zero by 2050 with a 50% reduction commitment by 2030 from a 2019 baseline. We and RMR may face reputational damage in the event that our or their corporate sustainability procedures or standards do not meet the goals that we or RMR have set or the standards set by various constituencies. If we and RMR fail to satisfy the expectations of investors and our tenants and other stakeholders or our or RMR’s announced goals and other initiatives are not executed as planned, our and RMR’s reputation and financial results could be adversely affected, and our revenues, results of operations and ability to grow our business may be negatively impacted. In addition, we may incur significant costs in attempting to comply with ESG policies or third party expectations or demands.
Insurance may not adequately cover our losses, and insurance costs may continue to increase.
We or our tenants are generally responsible for the costs of insurance coverage for our properties and the operations conducted on them, including for casualty, liability, fire, extended coverage and rental or business interruption loss insurance. In the future, we may acquire properties for which we are responsible for the costs of insurance. In the past few years, the costs of insurance have increased significantly, and these increased costs have had an adverse effect on us and certain of our tenants. Increased insurance costs may adversely affect our applicable tenants’ abilities to pay us rent or result in downward pressure on rents we can charge under new or renewed leases. Losses of a catastrophic nature, such as those caused by hurricanes, flooding, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, among other things, losses as a result of outbreaks of pandemics or acts of terrorism, may be covered by insurance policies with limitations such as large deductibles or co-payments that we or a responsible tenant may not be able to pay. Insurance proceeds may not be adequate to restore an affected property to its condition prior to a loss or to compensate us for our losses, including lost revenues or other costs. Certain losses, such as losses we may incur as a result of
known or unknown environmental conditions, are not covered by our insurance. Market conditions or our loss history may limit the scope of insurance or coverage available to us or our applicable tenants on economic terms. If we determine that an uninsured loss or a loss in excess of insured limits occurs and if we are not able to recover amounts from our applicable tenants for certain losses, we may have to incur uninsured costs to mitigate such losses or lose all or a portion of the capital invested in a property, as well as the anticipated future revenue from the property.
Risks Related to Our Relationships with RMR
We are dependent upon RMR to manage our business and implement our growth strategy.
We have no employees. Personnel and services that we require are provided to us by RMR pursuant to our management agreements with RMR. Our ability to achieve our business objectives depends on RMR and its ability to effectively manage our properties, to appropriately identify and complete our acquisitions and dispositions and to execute our growth strategy. Accordingly, our business is dependent upon RMR’s business contacts, its ability to successfully hire, train, supervise and manage its personnel and its ability to maintain its operating systems. If we lose the services provided by RMR or its key personnel, our business and growth prospects may decline. We may be unable to duplicate the quality and depth of management available to us by becoming internally managed or by hiring another manager. In the event RMR is unwilling or unable to continue to provide management services to us, our cost of obtaining substitute services may be greater than the fees we pay RMR under our management agreements, and as a result our expenses may increase.
RMR has broad discretion in operating our day to day business.
Our manager, RMR, is authorized to follow broad operating and investment guidelines and, therefore, has discretion in identifying the properties that will be appropriate investments for us, as well as our individual operating and investment decisions. Our Board of Trustees periodically reviews our operating and investment guidelines and our operating activities and investments but it does not review or approve each decision made by RMR on our behalf. In addition, in conducting periodic reviews, our Board of Trustees relies primarily on information provided to it by RMR. RMR may exercise its discretion in a manner that results in investment returns that are substantially below expectations or that results in losses.
Our management structure and agreements and relationships with RMR and RMR’s and its controlling shareholder’s relationships with others may create conflicts of interest, or the perception of such conflicts, and may restrict our investment activities.
RMR is a majority owned subsidiary of RMR Inc. The Chair of our Board of Trustees and one of our Managing Trustees, Adam Portnoy, is the sole trustee, an officer and the controlling shareholder of ABP Trust, which is the controlling shareholder of RMR Inc., chair of the board of directors, a managing director and the president and chief executive officer of RMR Inc. and an officer and employee of RMR. RMR or its subsidiary also acts as the manager to certain other Nasdaq listed companies and private companies, and Mr. Portnoy serves as a managing director, managing trustee, director or trustee, as applicable, of those companies, and as chair of the board of trustees or board of directors, as applicable, of those Nasdaq listed companies.
Jennifer Clark, our other Managing Trustee, Christopher Bilotto, our President and Chief Operating Officer, and Matthew Brown, our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, are also officers and employees of RMR. Messrs. Portnoy, Bilotto and Brown and Ms. Clark have duties to RMR, as well as to us, and we do not have their undivided attention. They and other RMR personnel may have conflicts in allocating their time and resources between us and RMR and other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide services. Some of our Independent Trustees also serve as independent directors or independent trustees of other public companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services.
In addition, we may in the future enter into additional transactions with RMR, its affiliates or entities managed by it or its subsidiaries. In addition to his investments in RMR Inc. and RMR, Mr. Portnoy holds equity investments in other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services and some of these companies have significant cross ownership interests. Our executive officers may also own equity investments in other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services. These multiple responsibilities, relationships and cross ownerships may give rise to conflicts of interest or the perception of such conflicts of interest with respect to matters involving us, RMR Inc., RMR, our Managing Trustees, the other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services and their related parties. Conflicts of interest or the perception of conflicts of interest could have a material adverse impact on our reputation, business and the market price of our common shares and other securities and we may be subject to increased risk of litigation as a result.
In our management agreements with RMR, we acknowledge that RMR may engage in other activities or businesses and act as the manager to any other person or entity (including other REITs) even though such person or entity has investment policies and objectives similar to our policies and objectives and we are not entitled to preferential treatment in receiving information,
recommendations and other services from RMR. Accordingly, we may lose investment opportunities to, and may compete for tenants with, other businesses managed by RMR or its subsidiaries. We cannot be sure that our Code of Conduct or our governance guidelines, or other procedural protections we adopt will be sufficient to enable us to identify, adequately address or mitigate actual or alleged conflicts of interest or ensure that our transactions with related persons are made on terms that are at least as favorable to us as those that would have been obtained with an unrelated person.
Our management agreements with RMR were not negotiated on an arm’s length basis and their fee and expense structure may not create proper incentives for RMR, which may increase the risk of an investment in our common shares.
As a result of our relationships with RMR and its current and former controlling shareholder(s), our management agreements with RMR were not negotiated on an arm’s length basis between unrelated parties, and therefore, while such agreements were negotiated with the use of a special committee and disinterested Trustees, the terms, including the fees payable to RMR, may be different from those negotiated on an arm’s length basis between unrelated parties. Our property management fees are calculated based on rents we receive and construction supervision fees for construction at our properties overseen and managed by RMR, and our base business management fee is calculated based upon the lower of the historical costs of our real estate investments and our market capitalization. We pay RMR substantial base management fees regardless of our financial results. These fee arrangements could incentivize RMR to pursue acquisitions, capital transactions, tenancies and construction projects or to avoid disposing of our assets in order to increase or maintain its management fees and might reduce RMR’s incentive to devote its time and effort to seeking investments that provide attractive returns for us. If we do not effectively manage our investment, disposition and capital transactions and leasing, construction and other property management activities, we may pay increased management fees without proportional benefits to us. In addition, we are obligated under our management agreements to reimburse RMR for employment and related expenses of RMR’s employees assigned to work exclusively or partly at our properties, our share of the wages, benefits and other related costs of RMR’s centralized accounting personnel, our share of RMR’s costs for providing our internal audit function and as otherwise agreed. We are also required to pay for third party costs incurred with respect to us. Our obligation to reimburse RMR for certain of its costs and to pay third party costs may reduce RMR’s incentive to efficiently manage those costs, which may increase our costs.
The termination of our management agreements with RMR may require us to pay a substantial termination fee, including in the case of a termination for unsatisfactory performance, which may limit our ability to end our relationship with RMR.
The terms of our management agreements with RMR automatically extend on December 31 of each year so that such terms thereafter end on the 20th anniversary of the date of the extension. We have the right to terminate these agreements: (1) at any time on 60 days’ written notice for convenience, (2) immediately upon written notice for cause, as defined in the agreements, (3) on written notice given within 60 days after the end of any applicable calendar year for a performance reason, as defined in the agreements, and (4) by written notice during the 12 months following a manager change of control, as defined in the agreements. However, if we terminate a management agreement for convenience, or if RMR terminates a management agreement with us for good reason, as defined in such agreement, we are obligated to pay RMR a termination fee in an amount equal to the sum of the present values of the monthly future fees, as defined in the applicable agreement, payable to RMR for the term that was remaining before such termination, which, depending on the time of termination, would be between 19 and 20 years. Additionally, if we terminate a management agreement for a performance reason, as defined in the agreement, we are obligated to pay RMR the termination fee calculated as described above, but assuming a remaining term of 10 years. These provisions substantially increase the cost to us of terminating the management agreements without cause, which may limit our ability to end our relationship with RMR as our manager. The payment of the termination fee could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, including our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
Our management arrangements with RMR may discourage a change of control of us.
Our management agreements with RMR have continuing 20 year terms that renew annually. As noted in the preceding risk factor, if we terminate either of these management agreements other than for cause or upon a change of control of our manager, we are obligated to pay RMR a substantial termination fee. For these reasons, our management agreements with RMR may discourage a change of control of us, including a change of control which might result in payment of a premium for our common shares.
We are party to transactions with related parties that may increase the risk of allegations of conflicts of interest.
We are party to transactions with related parties, including with entities controlled by Adam Portnoy or to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services. Our agreements with related parties or in respect of transactions among related parties may not be on terms as favorable to us as they would have been if they had been negotiated among unrelated parties. We are subject to the risk that our shareholders or the shareholders of RMR Inc. or other related parties may challenge any such related party transactions. If challenges to related party transactions were to be successful, we might not realize the benefits
expected from the transactions being challenged. Moreover, any such challenge could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention, could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business and growth and could adversely affect our ability to realize the benefits expected from the transactions, whether or not the allegations have merit or are substantiated.
We may be at an increased risk for dissident shareholder activities due to perceived conflicts of interest arising from our management structure and relationships.
Companies with business dealings with related persons and entities may more often be the target of dissident shareholder trustee nominations, dissident shareholder proposals and shareholder litigation alleging conflicts of interest in their business dealings. The various relationships noted above may precipitate such activities. Certain proxy advisory firms which have significant influence over the voting by shareholders of public companies have, in the past, recommended, and in the future may recommend, that shareholders withhold votes for the election of our incumbent Trustees, vote against our say on pay vote or other management proposals or vote for shareholder proposals that we oppose. These recommendations by proxy advisory firms in the future would likely affect the outcome of future Board of Trustees elections and votes on our say on pay, which may increase shareholder activism and litigation. These activities, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and diversion of our management’s attention and could have a material adverse impact on our reputation and business.
Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure
Ownership limitations and certain provisions in our declaration of trust, bylaws and agreements, as well as certain provisions of Maryland law, may deter, delay or prevent a change in our control or unsolicited acquisition proposals.
Our declaration of trust prohibits any shareholder, other than RMR and its affiliates (as defined under Maryland law) and certain persons who have been exempted by our Board of Trustees, from owning, directly and by attribution, more than 9.8% of the number or value of shares (whichever is more restrictive) of any class or series of our outstanding shares of beneficial interest, including our common shares. This provision of our declaration of trust is intended to, among other purposes, assist with our REIT compliance under the IRC and otherwise promote our orderly governance. However, this provision may also inhibit acquisitions of a significant stake in us and may deter, delay or prevent a change in control of us or unsolicited acquisition proposals that a shareholder may consider favorable. Additionally, provisions contained in our declaration of trust and bylaws or under Maryland law may have a similar impact, including, for example, provisions relating to:
•limitations on shareholder voting rights with respect to certain actions that are not approved by our Board of Trustees;
•the authority of our Board of Trustees, and not our shareholders, to adopt, amend or repeal our bylaws and to fill vacancies on our Board of Trustees;
•shareholder voting standards which require a supermajority of shares for approval of certain actions;
•the fact that only our Board of Trustees, or, if there are no Trustees, our officers, may call shareholder meetings and that shareholders are not entitled to act without a meeting;
•required qualifications for an individual to serve as a Trustee and a requirement that certain of our Trustees be “Managing Trustees” and other Trustees be “Independent Trustees,” as defined in our governing documents;
•limitations on the ability of our shareholders to propose nominees for election as Trustees and propose other business to be considered at a meeting of our shareholders;
•limitations on the ability of our shareholders to remove our Trustees;
•the authority of our Board of Trustees to create and issue new classes or series of shares (including shares with voting rights and other rights and privileges that may deter a change in control) and issue additional common shares;
•restrictions on business combinations between us and an interested shareholder that have not first been approved by our Board of Trustees (including a majority of Trustees not related to the interested shareholder); and
•the authority of our Board of Trustees, without shareholder approval, to implement certain takeover defenses.
As changes occur in the marketplace for corporate governance policies, the above provisions may change, be removed, or new ones may be added.
Our rights and the rights of our shareholders to take action against our Trustees and officers are limited.
Our declaration of trust limits the liability of our Trustees and officers to us and our shareholders for money damages to the maximum extent permitted under Maryland law. Under current Maryland law, our Trustees and officers will not have any liability to us and our shareholders for money damages other than liability resulting from:
•actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services; or
•active and deliberate dishonesty by the Trustee or officer that was established by a final judgment as being material to the cause of action adjudicated.
Our declaration of trust authorizes us, and our bylaws and indemnification agreements require us, to indemnify, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, any present or former Trustee or officer who is made or threatened to be made a party to a proceeding by reason of his or her service in these and certain other capacities. In addition, we may be obligated to pay or reimburse the expenses incurred by our present and former Trustees and officers without requiring a preliminary determination of their ultimate entitlement to indemnification. As a result of these limitations on liability and indemnification obligations, we and our shareholders may have more limited rights against our present and former Trustees and officers than might exist with other companies, which could limit shareholder recourse in the event of actions that some shareholders may believe are not in our best interest.
Shareholder litigation against us or our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents may be referred to mandatory arbitration proceedings, which follow different procedures than in-court litigation and may be more restrictive to shareholders asserting claims than in-court litigation.
Our shareholders agree, by virtue of becoming shareholders, that they are bound by our governing documents, including the arbitration provisions of our declaration of trust and bylaws, as they may be amended from time to time. Our governing documents provide that certain actions by one or more of our shareholders against us or any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents, other than disputes, or any portion thereof, regarding the meaning, interpretation or validity of any provision of our declaration of trust or bylaws, will be referred to mandatory, binding and final arbitration proceedings if we, or any other party to such dispute, including any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents unilaterally so demands. As a result, we and our shareholders would not be able to pursue litigation in state or federal court against us or our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents, including, for example, claims alleging violations of federal securities laws or breach of fiduciary duties or similar director or officer duties under Maryland law, if we or any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents against whom the claim is made unilaterally demands the matter be resolved by arbitration. Instead, our shareholders would be required to pursue such claims through binding and final arbitration.
Our governing documents provide that such arbitration proceedings would be conducted in accordance with the procedures of the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association, as modified in our bylaws. These procedures may provide materially more limited rights to our shareholders than litigation in a federal or state court. For example, arbitration in accordance with these procedures does not include the opportunity for a jury trial, document discovery is limited, arbitration hearings generally are not open to the public, there are no witness depositions in advance of arbitration hearings and arbitrators may have different qualifications or experiences than judges. In addition, although our governing documents’ arbitration provisions contemplate that arbitration may be brought in a representative capacity or on behalf of a class of our shareholders, the rules governing such representation or class arbitration may be different from, and less favorable to shareholders than, the rules governing representative or class action litigation in courts. Our governing documents also generally provide that each party to such an arbitration is required to bear its own costs in the arbitration, including attorneys’ fees, and that the arbitrators may not render an award that includes shifting of such costs or, in a derivative or class proceeding, award any portion of our award to any shareholder or such shareholder’s attorneys. The arbitration provisions of our governing documents may discourage our shareholders from bringing, and attorneys from agreeing to represent our shareholders wishing to bring, litigation against us or our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents. Our agreements with RMR have similar arbitration provisions to those in our governing documents.
We believe that the arbitration provisions in our governing documents are enforceable under both state and federal law, including with respect to federal securities laws claims. We are a Maryland real estate investment trust and Maryland courts have upheld the enforceability of arbitration bylaws. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld agreements to arbitrate other federal statutory claims, including those that implicate important federal policies. However, some academics, legal practitioners and others are of the view that charter or bylaw provisions mandating arbitration are not enforceable with respect to federal securities laws claims. It is possible that the arbitration provisions of our governing documents may ultimately be determined to be unenforceable.
By agreeing to the arbitration provisions of our governing documents, shareholders will not be deemed to have waived compliance by us with federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder.
Our bylaws designate the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland as the sole and exclusive forum for certain actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our shareholders, which could limit our shareholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents.
Our bylaws currently provide that, unless the dispute has been referred to binding arbitration, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland will be the sole and exclusive forum for: (1) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; (2) any action asserting a claim for breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents to us or our shareholders; (3) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents arising pursuant to Maryland law, our declaration of trust or bylaws brought by or on behalf of a shareholder, either on such shareholder’s own behalf, on our behalf or on behalf of any series or class of shares of beneficial interest of ours or by our shareholders against us or any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents, including any disputes, claims or controversies relating to the meaning, interpretation, effect, validity, performance or enforcement of our declaration of trust or bylaws; or (4) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine of the State of Maryland. Our bylaws currently also provide that the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland will be the sole and exclusive forum for any dispute, or portion thereof, regarding the meaning, interpretation or validity of any provision of our declaration of trust or bylaws. The exclusive forum provision of our bylaws does not apply to any action for which the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland does not have jurisdiction or to a dispute that has been referred to binding arbitration in accordance with our bylaws. The exclusive forum provision of our bylaws does not establish exclusive jurisdiction in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland for claims that arise under the Securities Act, the Exchange Act or other federal securities laws if there is exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction in the federal courts. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring or holding any interest in our shares of beneficial interest shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to these provisions of our bylaws, as they may be amended from time to time. The arbitration and exclusive forum provisions of our bylaws may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that the shareholder believes is favorable for disputes with us or our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our Trustees, officers, manager or other agents.
We may change our operational, financing and investment policies without shareholder approval and we may become more highly leveraged, which may increase our risk of default under our debt obligations.
Our Board of Trustees determines our operational, financing and investment policies and may amend or revise our policies, including our policies with respect to our intention to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, acquisitions, dispositions, growth, operations, indebtedness, capitalization and distributions, or approve transactions that deviate from these policies, without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders. Policy changes could adversely affect the market price of our common shares and our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders. Further, our organizational documents do not limit the amount or percentage of indebtedness, funded or otherwise, that we may incur. Our Board of Trustees may alter or eliminate our current policy on borrowing at any time without shareholder approval. If this policy changes, we could become more highly leveraged, which could result in an increase in our debt service costs or a further downgrade in our credit ratings. Higher leverage also increases the risk of default on our obligations. In addition, a change in our investment policies, including the manner in which we allocate our resources across our portfolio or the types of assets in which we seek to invest, may increase our exposure to interest rate risk, real estate market fluctuations and liquidity risk.
Risks Related to Our Taxation
Our failure to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT under the IRC could have significant adverse consequences.
As a REIT, we generally do not pay federal or most state income taxes as long as we distribute all of our REIT taxable income and meet other qualifications set forth in the IRC. However, actual qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC depends on our satisfying complex statutory requirements, for which there are only limited judicial and administrative interpretations. We believe that we have been organized and have operated, and will continue to be organized and to operate, in a manner that qualified and will continue to qualify us to be taxed as a REIT under the IRC. However, we cannot be sure that the IRS, upon review or audit, will agree with this conclusion. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that the federal government, or any state or other taxation authority, will continue to afford favorable income tax treatment to REITs and their shareholders.
Maintaining our qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC will require us to continue to satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the nature of our assets, the sources of our income and the amounts we distribute to our shareholders. In order to meet these requirements, it may be necessary for us to sell or forgo attractive investments.
If we cease to qualify for taxation as a REIT under the IRC, then our ability to raise capital might be adversely affected, we will be in breach under our credit agreement, we may be subject to material amounts of federal and state income taxes, our cash available for distribution to our shareholders could be reduced, and the market price of our common shares could decline. In addition, if we lose or revoke our qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC for a taxable year, we will generally be prevented from requalifying for taxation as a REIT for the next four taxable years.
Distributions to shareholders generally will not qualify for reduced tax rates applicable to “qualified dividends.”
Dividends payable by U.S. corporations to noncorporate shareholders, such as individuals, trusts and estates, are generally eligible for reduced federal income tax rates applicable to “qualified dividends.” Distributions paid by REITs generally are not treated as “qualified dividends” under the IRC and the reduced rates applicable to such dividends do not generally apply. However, for tax years beginning before 2026, REIT dividends paid to noncorporate shareholders are generally taxed at an effective tax rate lower than applicable ordinary income tax rates due to the availability of a deduction under the IRC for specified forms of income from passthrough entities. More favorable rates will nevertheless continue to apply to regular corporate “qualified” dividends, which may cause some investors to perceive that an investment in a REIT is less attractive than an investment in a non-REIT entity that pays dividends, thereby reducing the demand and market price of our common shares.
REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect us and our shareholders.
We generally must distribute annually at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, subject to specified adjustments and excluding any net capital gain, in order to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT under the IRC. To the extent that we satisfy this distribution requirement, federal corporate income tax will not apply to the earnings that we distribute, but if we distribute less than 100% of our REIT taxable income, then we will be subject to federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. We intend to pay distributions to our shareholders to comply with the REIT requirements of the IRC. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we pay to our shareholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under federal tax laws.
From time to time, we may generate taxable income greater than our income for financial reporting purposes prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, or differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash may occur. If we do not have other funds available in these situations, among other things, we may borrow funds on unfavorable terms, sell investments at disadvantageous prices or distribute amounts that would otherwise be invested in future acquisitions in order to pay distributions sufficient to enable us to distribute enough of our taxable income to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and to avoid corporate income tax and the 4% excise tax in a particular year. These alternatives could increase our costs or reduce our shareholders’ equity. Thus, compliance with the REIT distribution requirements may hinder our ability to grow, which could cause the market price of our common shares to decline.
Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT under the IRC, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.
Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT under the IRC, we may be subject to federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, excise taxes, state or local income, property and transfer taxes, and other taxes. Also, some jurisdictions may in the future limit or eliminate favorable income tax deductions, including the dividends paid deduction, which could increase our income tax expense. In addition, in order to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under the IRC, prevent the recognition of particular types of non-cash income, or avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to specified gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we may hold or dispose of some of our assets and conduct some of our operations through our TRSs or other subsidiary corporations that will be subject to corporate level income tax at regular rates. In addition, while we intend that our transactions with our TRSs will be conducted on arm’s length bases, we may be subject to a 100% excise tax on a transaction that the IRS or a court determines was not conducted at arm’s length. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our shareholders.
Legislative or other actions affecting REITs could materially and adversely affect us and our shareholders.
The rules dealing with U.S. federal, state, and local taxation are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process and by the IRS, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and other taxation authorities. Changes to the tax laws, with or without retroactive application, could materially and adversely affect us and our shareholders. We cannot predict how changes in the tax laws might affect us or our shareholders. New legislation, Treasury regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions could significantly and negatively affect our ability to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT or the tax consequences of such qualification to us and our shareholders.
Risks Related to Our Securities
Our distributions to our shareholders may be reduced or eliminated and the form of payment could change.
We intend to continue to pay regular quarterly distributions to our shareholders. However:
•our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders or sustain the rate of distributions may be adversely affected if any of the risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K occur, including any negative impact caused by current market and economic conditions, such as rising or sustained high interest rates and high inflation, supply chain challenges and economic downturns or recessions, on our business, results of operations and liquidity;
•our payment of distributions is subject to restrictions contained in our debt agreements and may be subject to restrictions in future debt obligations we may incur; during the continuance of any event of default under our debt agreements, we may be limited or, in some cases, prohibited from paying distributions to our shareholders; and
•the timing and amount of any distributions will be determined at the discretion of our Board of Trustees and will depend on various factors that our Board of Trustees deems relevant, including, but not limited to, our FFO, Normalized FFO, requirements to maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT, limitations in our debt agreements, the availability to us of debt and equity capital, our expectation of our future capital requirements and operating performance and our expected needs for and availability of cash to pay our obligations.
For these reasons, among others, our distribution rate may decline or we may cease paying distributions to our shareholders.
Further, in order to preserve liquidity, we may elect to pay distributions to our shareholders in part in a form other than cash, such as issuing additional common shares of ours to our shareholders, as permitted by the applicable tax rules.
The Notes are structurally subordinated to the payment of all indebtedness and other liabilities.
We are the sole obligor on our outstanding senior unsecured notes and any notes or other debt securities we may issue in the future, or, together with our outstanding senior unsecured notes, the Notes, and such Notes are not, and any Notes we may issue in the future may not be, guaranteed by any of our subsidiaries. Our subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities and have no obligation, contingent or otherwise, to pay any amounts due on the Notes, or to make any funds available therefor, whether by dividend, distribution, loan or other payments. The rights of holders of the Notes to benefit from any of the assets of our subsidiaries are subject to the prior satisfaction of claims of our subsidiaries’ creditors. As a result, the Notes are, and, except to the extent that future Notes are guaranteed by our subsidiaries, will be, structurally subordinated to all indebtedness and other liabilities of our subsidiaries, including guarantees of or pledges under other indebtedness of ours, payment obligations under lease agreements, trade payables and preferred equity. As of December 31, 2022, our subsidiaries had total indebtedness and other liabilities (excluding security and other deposits and guaranties) of $148.4 million.
There may be no public market for certain of the Notes, and one may not develop, be maintained or be liquid.
We have not applied for listing of certain of the Notes on any securities exchange or for quotation on any automatic dealer quotation system, and we may not do so for Notes issued in the future. We cannot be sure of the liquidity of any market that may develop for such Notes, the ability of any holder to sell such Notes or the price at which holders would be able to sell such Notes. If a market for such Notes does not develop, holders may be unable to resell such Notes for an extended period of time, if at all. If a market for such Notes does develop, it may not continue or it may not be sufficiently liquid to allow holders to resell such Notes. Consequently, holders of the Notes may not be able to liquidate their investment readily, and lenders may not readily accept such Notes as collateral for loans.
The Notes may trade at a discount from their initial issue price or principal amount, depending upon many factors, including prevailing interest rates, the ratings assigned by rating agencies, the market for similar securities and other factors, including general economic conditions and our financial condition, performance and prospects. Any decline in market prices, regardless of cause, may adversely affect the liquidity and trading markets for the Notes.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
As of December 31, 2022, our wholly owned properties were comprised of 160 properties located in 30 states and the District of Columbia containing approximately 21.0 million rentable square feet and we had noncontrolling ownership interests of 51% and 50% in two unconsolidated joint ventures that own three properties totaling approximately 444,000 rentable square feet. The following table provides certain information about our wholly owned properties as of December 31, 2022 (dollars in thousands):
Undepreciated Carrying Value (1)
Depreciated Carrying Value (1)
|Annualized Rental Income|
|Alabama||3||$||27,008 ||$||21,392 ||$||4,246 |
|Arizona||5||31,079 ||27,009 ||4,829 |
|California||23||431,840 ||368,639 ||63,837 |
|Colorado||6||88,265 ||63,601 ||13,756 |
|District of Columbia||7||715,576 ||622,976 ||57,254 |
|Florida||3||60,032 ||46,739 ||9,419 |
|Georgia||11||374,005 ||313,811 ||48,982 |
|Idaho||3||33,517 ||25,682 ||4,256 |
|Illinois||5||407,443 ||382,925 ||58,537 |
|Indiana||5||102,211 ||77,277 ||13,150 |
|Iowa||1||10,646 ||9,759 ||3,283 |
|Kentucky||1||13,713 ||10,683 ||3,094 |
|Maryland||13||249,636 ||206,373 ||32,304 |
|Massachusetts||8||144,429 ||121,205 ||20,892 |
|Michigan||2||27,686 ||21,276 ||4,083 |
|Minnesota||1||8,264 ||3,628 ||1,126 |
|Mississippi||1||26,459 ||19,659 ||4,710 |
|Missouri||3||87,945 ||73,128 ||23,673 |
|Nebraska||2||19,477 ||18,091 ||4,228 |
|New Jersey||3||49,210 ||45,185 ||14,649 |
|New York||2||10,550 ||8,568 ||2,018 |
|North Carolina||2||23,609 ||20,884 ||7,134 |
|Ohio||1||1,511 ||1,413 ||708 |
|Pennsylvania||1||34,193 ||31,455 ||6,924 |
|South Carolina||2||31,386 ||29,913 ||3,786 |
|Texas||15||246,624 ||216,837 ||42,364 |
|Utah||3||75,743 ||69,397 ||15,579 |
|Vermont||1||9,256 ||6,514 ||1,202 |
|Virginia||18||426,034 ||366,435 ||59,673 |
|Washington||5||156,510 ||137,817 ||11,553 |
|Wyoming||1||12,217 ||6,345 ||2,775 |
|Subtotal||157||3,936,074 ||3,374,616 ||544,024 |
|Properties Held for Sale|
|3||2,584 ||2,396 ||— |
|Subtotal||3||2,584 ||2,396 ||— |
| Grand Total||160||$||3,938,658 ||$||3,377,012 ||$||544,024 |
(1)Excludes purchase price allocations assigned to real estate intangibles.
(2)Properties were sold in January 2023.
As of December 31, 2022, one of our properties with an undepreciated carrying value, excluding purchase price allocations assigned to real estate intangibles, of $40.3 million, was encumbered by a mortgage with a principal balance of $50.0 million. The three properties owned by our two unconsolidated joint ventures in which we own 51% and 50% interests were encumbered by two mortgages totaling $82.0 million as of December 31, 2022. For more information regarding our mortgage and our two unconsolidated joint ventures, see Notes 4 and 9 to the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
From time to time, we may become involved in litigation matters incidental to the ordinary course of our business. Although we are unable to predict with certainty the eventual outcome of any litigation, we are currently not a party to any litigation which we expect to have a material adverse effect on our business.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common shares are traded on Nasdaq (symbol: OPI).
As of February 9, 2023, there were 1,922 shareholders of record of our common shares.
Issuer purchases of equity securities. The following table provides information about our purchases of our equity securities during the quarter ended December 31, 2022:
Number of Shares Purchased (1)
|Average Price Paid per Share||Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs||Maximum Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs|
|October 2022||147 ||$||13.98 ||— ||$||— |
|December 2022||415 ||$||13.35 ||— ||— |
|Total/Weighted Average|| ||562 || ||$||13.51 || ||— ||$||— |
(1)These common share withholdings and purchases were made to satisfy tax withholding and payment obligations of former employees of RMR in connection with the vesting of prior awards of common shares to them. We withheld and purchased these shares at their fair market values based upon the trading prices of our common shares at the close of trading on Nasdaq on the purchase dates.
Item 6. [Reserved]
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following information should be read in conjunction with our Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
OVERVIEW (dollars in thousands, except per share and per square foot data)
We are a REIT organized under Maryland law. As of December 31, 2022, our wholly owned properties were comprised of 160 properties and we had noncontrolling ownership interests of 51% and 50% in two unconsolidated joint ventures that own three properties containing approximately 444,000 rentable square feet. As of December 31, 2022, our properties are located in 30 states and the District of Columbia and contain approximately 20,969,000 rentable square feet. As of December 31, 2022, our properties were leased to 274 different tenants, with a weighted average remaining lease term (based on annualized rental income) of approximately 6.6 years. The U.S. government is our largest tenant, representing approximately 19.7% of our annualized rental income as of December 31, 2022.
Certain changes in office space utilization accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased remote work arrangements, continue to impact the market. The utilization and demand for office space continues to evolve and the ultimate impact of current trends on the demands for office space at our properties remains uncertain and subject to change. Accordingly, we do not yet know what the full extent of the impacts will be on our or our tenants’ businesses and operations.
In response to inflationary pressures, the U.S. Federal Reserve has increased the federal funds rate by 450 basis points since January 1, 2022 and has signaled that further increases are likely to occur throughout 2023. The inflationary pressures and rising interest rates in the United States and globally have given rise to increasing concerns that the U.S. economy may soon enter an economic recession and they have caused disruptions in the financial markets. Sustained inflationary pressures, increased interest rates, an economic recession or continued or intensified disruptions in the financial markets could adversely
affect our financial condition and that of our tenants, could adversely impact the ability or willingness of our tenants to renew our leases or pay rent to us, would impair our ability to effectively deploy our capital or realize upon investments on favorable terms, may restrict our access to, and would likely increase our cost of, capital and may cause the values of our properties and our securities to decline.
For more information and risks relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and changes in market interest rates and their impacts on us and our business, see elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including “Warning Concerning Forward-Looking Statements” and Part I, Item 1A, “Risk Factors”.
Unless otherwise noted, the data presented in this section includes properties classified as held for sale as of December 31, 2022 and excludes three properties owned by two unconsolidated joint ventures in which we own 51% and 50% interests. For more information regarding our properties classified as held for sale and our two unconsolidated joint ventures, see Note 4 to the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Occupancy data for our properties as of December 31, 2022 and 2021 was as follows (square feet in thousands):
All Properties (1)
Comparable Properties (2)
| ||December 31,||December 31,|
|Total properties ||160 ||178 ||149 ||149 |
Total rentable square feet (3)
|20,969 ||23,271 ||19,006 ||19,001 |
Percent leased (4)
|90.6 ||%||89.5 ||%||93.5 ||%||93.7 ||%|
(1)Based on properties we owned on December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively. Includes one leasable land parcel as of December 31, 2021.
(2)Based on properties we owned continuously since January 1, 2021; excludes properties classified as held for sale and properties undergoing significant redevelopment, if any, and three properties owned by two unconsolidated joint ventures in which we own 51% and 50% interests.
(3)Subject to changes when space is remeasured or reconfigured for tenants.
(4)Percent leased includes (i) space being fitted out for tenant occupancy pursuant to our lease agreements, if any, and (ii) space which is leased, but is not occupied or is being offered for sublease by tenants, if any, as of the measurement date.
The average effective rental rate per square foot for our properties for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021 were as follows:
| ||Year Ended December 31,|
Average effective rental rate per square foot (1):
All properties (2)
|$||29.03 ||$||27.55 |
Comparable properties (3)
|$||27.79 ||$||27.17 |
(1)Average effective rental rate per square foot represents total rental income during the period specified divided by the average rentable square feet leased during the period specified.
(2)Based on properties we owned on December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
(3)Based on properties we owned continuously since January 1, 2021; excludes properties classified as held for sale and properties undergoing significant redevelopment, if any, and three properties owned by two unconsolidated joint ventures in which we own 51% and 50% interests.
During the year ended December 31, 2022, changes in rentable square feet leased and available for lease at our properties were as follows (square feet in thousands):
| ||Year Ended December 31, 2022|
| ||Leased ||Available|
|Beginning of year||20,817 ||2,454 ||23,271 |
|Changes resulting from:|| |
|Disposition of properties||(1,489)||(837)||(2,326)|
|Lease expirations||(2,884)||2,884 ||— |
Lease renewals (1)
|1,974 ||(1,974)||— |
New leases (1)
|588 ||(588)||— |
|(2)||26 ||24 |
|End of year||19,004 ||1,965 ||20,969 |
(1)Based on leases entered during the year ended December 31, 2022.
(2)Rentable square feet are subject to changes when space is remeasured or reconfigured for tenants.
Leases at our properties totaling approximately 2,884,000 rentable square feet expired during the year ended December 31, 2022. During the year ended December 31, 2022, we entered into new and renewal leases as summarized in the following table (square feet in thousands):
|Year Ended December 31, 2022|
|Rentable square feet leased||588 ||1,974 ||2,562 |
|Weighted average rental rate change (by rentable square feet)||28.3 ||%||(1.2 ||%)||5.6 ||%|
Tenant leasing costs and concession commitments (1)
|$||72,224 ||$||101,195 ||$||173,419 |
Tenant leasing costs and concession commitments per rentable square foot (1)
|$||122.91 ||$||51.28 ||$||67.72 |
|Weighted (by square feet) average lease term (years)||9.7 ||9.2 ||9.3 |
Total leasing costs and concession commitments per rentable square foot per year (1)
|$||12.63 ||$||5.60 ||$||7.29 |
(1)Includes commitments made for leasing expenditures and concessions, such as tenant improvements, leasing commissions, tenant reimbursements and free rent.
During the year ended December 31, 2022, changes in effective rental rates per square foot achieved for new leases and lease renewals at our properties that commenced during the year ended December 31, 2022, when compared to prior effective rental rates per square foot in effect for the same space (and excluding space acquired vacant), were as follows (square feet in thousands):
| ||Year Ended December 31, 2022|
Square Foot (1)
Square Foot (1)