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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File Number 1-11527
SERVICE PROPERTIES TRUST
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
Maryland
04-3262075
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634
(Address of Principal Executive Offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code 617-964-8389
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each ClassTrading SymbolName of each Exchange on which Registered
Common Shares of Beneficial InterestSVCThe 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 (§ 232.405 of this chapter) 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 filerAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filerSmaller 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 $1.4 billion based on the $8.69 closing price per common share on The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC on June 30, 2023. For purposes of this calculation, an aggregate of 2,323,234 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 22, 2024: 165,768,058.
References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the Company, SVC, we, us or our include Service Properties 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 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023.


Warning Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other securities laws that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These statements may include words such as “believe”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “plan”, “estimate”, “will”, “may” and negatives or derivatives of these or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, among others, statements about: economic and market conditions and their potential impacts on us, our hotel managers and our tenants; expectations regarding demand for corporate travel and lodging; the sufficiency of our liquidity; our liquidity needs, sources and expected uses; our capital expenditure plans and commitments; our property dispositions and expected use of proceeds; and the amount and timing of future distributions.
Forward-looking statements reflect our current expectations, are based on judgments and assumptions, are inherently uncertain and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, which could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from expected future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in those forward-looking statements. Some of the risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the following:
• The ability of Sonesta Holdco Corporation and its subsidiaries, or Sonesta, to successfully operate the hotels it manages for us,
• Our ability and the ability of our managers and tenants to operate under unfavorable market and commercial real estate industry conditions due to, among other things, high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain disruptions, volatility in the public equity and debt markets, pandemics, geopolitical instability and tensions, economic downturns or a possible recession or changes in real estate utilization,
• If and when business transient hotel business will return to historical levels and whether any improved hotel industry conditions will continue, increase or be sustained,
• Whether and the extent to which our managers and tenants will pay the contractual amounts of returns, rents or other obligations due to us,
• Competition within the commercial real estate, hotel, transportation and travel center and other industries in which our managers and tenants operate, particularly in those markets in which our properties are located,
• Our ability to repay or refinance our debts as they mature or otherwise become due,
• Our ability to maintain sufficient liquidity, including the availability of borrowings under our revolving credit facility,
• Our ability to pay interest on and principal of our debt,
• Our ability to acquire properties that realize our targeted returns,
• Our ability to sell properties at prices we target,
• Our ability to raise or appropriately balance the use of debt or equity capital,
• Potential defaults under our management agreements and leases by our managers and tenants,
• Our ability to increase hotel room rates and rents at our net leased properties as our leases expire in excess of our operating expenses and to grow our business,
• Our ability to increase and maintain hotel room and net lease property occupancy at our properties,
• Our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders and to increase or sustain the amount of such distributions,
• Our ability to make cost-effective improvements to our properties that enhance their appeal to hotel guests and net lease tenants,
• Our ability to engage and retain qualified managers and tenants for our hotels and net lease properties on satisfactory terms,
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• Our ability to diversify our sources of rents and returns that improve the security of our cash flows,
• Our credit ratings,
• The ability of our manager, The RMR Group LLC, or RMR, to successfully manage us,
• Actual and potential conflicts of interest with our related parties, including our Managing Trustees, Sonesta, RMR and others affiliated with them,
• Our ability to realize benefits from the scale, geographic diversity, strategic locations and variety of service levels of our hotels,
• Limitations imposed by and our ability to satisfy complex rules to maintain our qualification for taxation as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, for U.S. federal income tax purposes,
• Compliance with, and changes to, federal, state and local laws and regulations, accounting rules, tax laws and similar matters,
• Acts of terrorism, outbreaks or continuation of pandemics or other public health safety events or conditions, war or other hostilities, material or prolonged disruption to supply chains, global climate change or other man-made or natural disasters beyond our control, and
• Other matters.
These risks, uncertainties and other factors are not exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with other cautionary statements that are included in our periodic filings. 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 Service Properties Trust dated August 21, 1995, as amended and supplemented, as filed with the State Department of Assessments and Taxation of Maryland, provides that no trustee, officer, shareholder, employee or agent of Service Properties Trust shall be held to any personal liability, jointly or severally, for any obligation of, or claim against, Service Properties Trust. All persons dealing with Service Properties Trust in any way shall look only to the assets of Service Properties Trust for the payment of any sum or the performance of any obligation.
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SERVICE PROPERTIES TRUST
2023 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT
Table of Contents
Page
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PART I
Item 1. Business
Our Company
We are a REIT formed in 1995 under the laws of the State of Maryland. As of December 31, 2023, we owned 221 hotels with 37,777 rooms or suites located in 36 states, the District of Columbia, Ontario, Canada and San Juan, Puerto Rico and 752 service-focused retail net lease properties with 13,341,172 square feet located in 42 states. Our principal place of business is Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634, and our telephone number is (617) 964-8389.
We seek to have a geographically diverse portfolio of real estate primarily in the United States. Our principal internal growth strategy is to apply asset management strategies to aid our hotel operators in improving performance and operating income of our hotel properties. We actively manage our net lease portfolio by engaging in early lease renewal discussions to maintain occupancy and grow rental income while simultaneously monitoring the credit of our tenants and identifying asset recycling opportunities. Our asset management teams also work closely with our operators to ensure our hotels and net lease properties are well maintained and that capital investments are well planned, prudent and executed efficiently in order to maximize the long term value of our properties.
Our external growth strategy is defined by our acquisition, disposition and financing policies as described below. Our investment, financing and disposition policies and business strategies are established by our Board of Trustees and may be changed by our Board of Trustees at any time without shareholder approval.
Hotel Portfolio
As of December 31, 2023, we owned 221 hotels with 37,777 rooms or suites located in 36 states, the District of Columbia, Ontario, Canada and San Juan, Puerto Rico. We believe the scale, geographic diversity, strategic locations and the variety of service levels of our hotels gives us a competitive advantage. Our hotel properties are typically located in urban or high density suburban locations in the vicinity of major demand generators such as urban centers, airports, medical or educational facilities, major tourist attractions or large suburban office parks.
The following table summarizes the brand affiliations, service level and chain scale of our hotels, as characterized by STR Inc., or STR, a data benchmark and analytics provider for the lodging industry, under which our hotels operate as of December 31, 2023 (dollars in thousands):
BrandManagerService Level
Chain Scale (1)
Number of HotelsNumber of Rooms or Suites
Investment (2)
Royal Sonesta Hotels®SonestaFull ServiceUpper Upscale175,663 $1,900,380 
Sonesta Hotels & Resorts®SonestaFull ServiceUpscale237,399 1,355,991
Sonesta ES Suites®SonestaExtended StayUpper Midscale607,643 1,125,254
Sonesta Select®SonestaSelect ServiceUpscale446,427 693,520
Sonesta Simply Suites®SonestaExtended StayMidscale516,464 592,399
Hyatt Place®HyattSelect ServiceUpscale172,107 294,344
Radisson® Hotels & ResortsRadissonFull ServiceUpscale51,149 170,800
Crowne Plaza®IHGFull ServiceUpscale1495 124,276
Country Inn & Suites® by RadissonRadissonFull ServiceUpper Midscale3430 54,049
Total Hotels22137,777$6,311,013 
(1)Chain scales are defined by STR. Chain scale segments are grouped primarily according to average room rates.
(2)Represents the historical cost of our properties plus capital improvements funded by us less impairment write-downs, if any, and excludes capital improvements made from reserves established for the regular refurbishment of our hotels, or FF&E reserves, funded from hotel operations that do not result in increases in our owner’s priority returns or rents.
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Net Lease Portfolio
As of December 31, 2023, we owned 752 service-focused retail net lease properties with an aggregate of 13,341,172 square feet. As of December 31, 2023, our net lease portfolio was occupied by 175 tenants with a weighted average (by annual minimum rent) lease term of 8.8 years, operating under 137 brands in 21 distinct industries. The portfolio is leased to tenants that include travel centers, quick service and casual dining restaurants, health and fitness centers, movie theaters, grocery stores, automotive parts and services and other businesses in service-focused and necessity-based industries across 42 states.
The following table summarizes the brand affiliation and industries under which our net lease properties operate as of December 31, 2023 (dollars in thousands):
BrandIndustryNo. of PropertiesSquare Feet
Annualized Minimum Rent (1)
Investment (2)
1.TravelCenters of America Inc.Travel Centers1323,697,503 $173,402 $2,258,977 
2.Petro Stopping CentersTravel Centers441,367,802 80,598 1,015,156 
3.The Great EscapeHome Leisure14542,666 7,711 98,242 
4.Life Time FitnessHealth and Fitness3420,335 5,770 92,617 
5.Buehler's Fresh FoodsGrocery Stores5502,727 5,657 76,469 
6.Heartland DentalMedical, Dental Office59234,274 4,699 61,120 
7.AMC TheatresMovie Theaters6297,166 4,438 67,023 
8.Express Oil ChangeAutomotive Equipment and Services2383,825 3,717 49,724 
9.NormsRestaurants - Casual Dining1063,490 3,693 53,673 
10.Pizza HutRestaurants - Quick Service40167,366 3,422 45,285 
11.Flying J Travel PlazaTravel Centers348,069 3,247 41,681 
12.America's Auto AuctionAutomotive Dealers672,338 3,216 38,314 
13.Fleet FarmGeneral Merchandise Stores1218,248 2,783 37,802 
14.Crème de la CrèmeEducational Services481,929 2,429 29,131 
15.Big Al'sEntertainment2111,912 2,336 35,214 
16.Martin'sRestaurants - Quick Service1681,909 2,252 31,144 
17.Mister Car WashCar Washes541,456 2,214 28,658 
18.Burger KingRestaurants - Quick Service2094,949 2,034 32,953 
19.Popeye'sRestaurants - Quick Service2045,708 1,983 28,434 
20.Regal CinemasMovie Theaters5223,846 1,958 34,953 
21.Courthouse Athletic ClubHealth and Fitness4193,659 1,906 39,688 
22.Arby'sRestaurants - Quick Service1957,868 1,744 29,234 
23.Hardee'sRestaurants - Quick Service1549,958 1,697 24,919 
24.Church's ChickenRestaurants - Quick Service3243,399 1,693 26,326 
25.United SupermarketsGrocery Stores6236,178 1,686 26,121 
26.
Other (3)
Various2584,362,592 46,034 759,837 
Total 75213,341,172 $372,319 $5,062,695 
(1)Represents cash amounts and excludes adjustments, if any, necessary to record scheduled rent changes on a straight line basis or any expense reimbursement.
(2)Represents the historical cost of our properties plus capital improvements funded by us less impairment write-downs, if any.
(3)Consists of 112 distinct brands with an average investment of $2,945 per property.
For more information about our hotel agreements and net lease portfolio, see Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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Principal Management Agreement or Lease Features
As of December 31, 2023, our 221 hotels were managed by subsidiaries of Sonesta, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, or Hyatt, Radisson Hospitality, Inc., or Radisson, and InterContinental Hotels Group, plc, or IHG. Our hotel operating agreements have initial terms expiring between 2026 and 2037. Each of these agreements is for between one and 195 of our hotels. The principal features of our hotel agreements are as follows:
Owner’s Priority Returns. Our hotel management agreements have stated owner’s priority return amounts designed to provide us a return on investment greater than our cost of capital. The owner’s priority returns are generally subject to available cash flow and we are not assured we will receive them in full or at all. Owner’s priority returns under our Hyatt and Radisson hotel agreements are partially supported by limited guarantees.
Long Terms. The weighted average term remaining for our hotel agreements (weighted by owner’s priority as of December 31, 2023) is 12.9 years, without giving effect to any renewal options our managers may have.
Pooled Agreements. Most of our hotel properties are subject to portfolio agreements. Some agreements are subject to cross default provisions, such that a manager’s default under one of the agreements would trigger defaults of the other agreements in that portfolio.
All or None Renewals. Generally, manager renewal options for each portfolio agreement of our hotel properties may only be exercised on an all or none basis and not for separate properties. Our agreement with Radisson for hotels that we may sell allows us to terminate the agreement with respect to individual properties as they are sold. See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information on these agreements.
Property Maintenance. Most of our hotel agreements require the deposit of 5% of annual gross hotel revenues into escrows to fund periodic renovations subject to available cash flow. We own the cash in these escrow accounts. If no escrowed cash is available, we are required to fund capital expenditures. Generally, as we fund capital expenditures, our owner’s priority return amount increases.
Working Capital. We are required to maintain working capital for each hotel and to fund the cost of certain operating supplies (for example, linen, china, glassware, silverware and uniforms). We are also responsible for funding hotel operations if at any time the funds available from working capital are insufficient to meet the financial requirements of the hotels. Generally, the working capital accounts which would otherwise be maintained by the operators for each of such hotels are maintained on a pooled basis, with operators being authorized to make withdrawals from such pooled account as otherwise contemplated with respect to working capital in accordance with the provisions of the management agreements.
Management Fees. Base fees are generally between 3% to 5% of gross revenues, as defined in our hotel management agreements, and are paid as operating expenses senior to our owner’s priority returns. Incentive management fees under our hotel management agreements are subordinate to payment of annual owner’s priority returns due to us. Our hotel managers have the ability to earn incentive management fees generally based on excess cash flows after payment of hotel operating expenses, payment of base management fees, funding of the required FF&E reserve, if any, payment of our owner’s priority returns, reimbursement of certain advances and in certain instances, replenishment of the guarantees. Generally, the incentive fee would be 20% of such excess cash flow and the remaining 80% would be retained by us.
Termination Rights. In addition to any right to terminate that may arise as a result of a default by the manager, most of our management agreements include rights for us to terminate on the basis of the manager’s failure to meet certain performance-based metrics, including the level of owner’s priority return generated over a period of time. Typically, such performance-based termination rights arise in the event the operator fails to achieve these specified performance thresholds over a consecutive two or three-year period and are subject to the manager’s ability to “cure” and avoid termination by payment to us of specified deficiency amounts, or are subject to force majeure provisions. A termination fee may be payable to the hotel operator under certain circumstances if a management agreement with respect to a hotel is terminated. We have agreed in the past, and may agree in the future, to waive certain of these termination rights in exchange for consideration from a manager or its affiliates, which consideration may include amendments to the management agreements.
In general, our 752 net lease properties are subject to “triple net” leases where the tenant is generally responsible for the payment of operating expenses and capital expenditures of the property during the lease term. Our tenants are responsible to
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pay us fixed annual rents on a monthly, quarterly or semi-annual basis. Our net lease tenants are responsible to maintain the properties including structural and non-structural components. Certain of our net lease properties also have future rent increases included in the leases either at a fixed amount or based on changes in the consumer price index, or CPI. Certain of our lease agreements also require payment of percentage rent to us based on increases in certain gross property revenues over threshold amounts. Certain of our net lease properties, including all our TravelCenters of America Inc., or TA, properties, include the right to repool properties, and include all or none renewal options.
TA is our largest tenant. As of December 31, 2023, we leased 176 travel centers to a subsidiary of TA under five master leases that expire in 2033. In connection with BP Products North America Inc.’s, or BP’s, acquisition of TA pursuant to a merger on May 15, 2023, or the TA Merger, BP Corporation North America Inc. has provided a limited guaranty of payments under each of these leases. As of December 31, 2023, we have invested approximately $2.3 billion in 132 TravelCenters of America branded properties with an aggregate of 3,697,503 square feet and approximately $1.0 billion in 44 Petro Stopping Centers branded properties with an aggregate of 1,367,802 square feet. See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information on these leases.
Substantially all of our travel centers are full service sites located at or near an interstate highway exit and offer fuel and non-fuel products and services 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Our typical travel center includes over 25 acres of land with parking for approximately 200 tractor trailers and approximately 100 cars. Our travel centers offer a broad range of products and services, including diesel fuel and gasoline, as well as nonfuel products and services such as truck repair and maintenance services, diesel exhaust fluid, one full service restaurant, one or more quick service restaurants, travel stores and various customer amenities.
Investment and Operating Policies
Our investment objectives include increasing cash flows from operations from dependable and diverse sources in order to increase per-share distributions to our shareholders. To achieve these objectives, we seek to maintain a strong capital base of shareholders’ equity; invest in high quality properties operated by qualified operating companies; use moderate debt leverage to fund additional investments which increase cash flows from operations; structure investments which generate a return in excess of our capital costs and provide an opportunity to participate in operating growth at our properties; when market conditions permit, refinance maturing debt with additional equity or long term debt; and pursue diversification so that our cash flows from operations come from diverse properties. Generally, we provide capital to owners and operators who wish to expand their businesses or divest their properties while continuing to operate their business. Our first investment in travel centers was structured differently than all our other investments. We acquired an operating travel centers business, reorganized the business to retain substantially all of the real estate and then distributed a tenant operating company to our shareholders. We may in the future make investments in this fashion or in a manner different from our other investments to further diversify our sources of rents and returns with the intention of improving the security of our cash flows.
Because we are a REIT, we generally may not operate our properties. We or our tenants have entered into arrangements for the operation of our properties. Under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the IRC, we may lease our hotels to one of our “taxable REIT subsidiaries”, as defined in Section 856(l) of the IRC, or TRSs, if the hotel is managed by a third party. As of December 31, 2023, all of our hotels were leased to our TRSs and managed by third parties. Any income realized by a TRS in excess of the rent paid to us by the subsidiary is subject to income tax at customary corporate rates. As and if the financial performance of the hotels operated for the account of our TRSs improves, these taxes may become material.
Acquisition Policies. We intend to pursue growth through the acquisition of additional properties. Generally, we prefer to purchase multiple properties in one transaction or individual properties that can be added to a pre-existing portfolio agreement because we believe a single management or lease agreement, cross default covenants and all or none renewal rights for multiple properties in diverse locations enhance the credit characteristics and the security of our investments. In implementing our acquisition strategy, we consider a range of factors relating to proposed property purchases including some or all of the following:
Historical and projected cash flows;
The estimated replacement cost, capital improvement requirements and proposed acquisition price of the property;
The proposed management agreement or lease terms;
The brand under which the property operates or is expected to operate;
The competitive market environment and the current or potential market position of each property;
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The availability of a qualified and reputable manager or tenant;
The financial strength of the proposed manager or tenant;
The property’s design, construction quality, physical condition and age and expected capital expenditures that may be needed to maintain the property or to enhance its operation;
The size of the property;
The location, type of property, market conditions and demographics of the area where it is located and surrounding demand generators;
Our weighted average long term cost of capital compared to projected returns we may realize by owning the property;
The tax and regulatory circumstances of the market area in which the property is located;
The amount and type of financial support available from the proposed manager or lessee;
The level of services and amenities offered at the property;
The strategic fit of the property or investment with the rest of our portfolio and our own plans;
The possibility that technological changes may affect the business operated at the property;
Other possible uses of the property if the current use is no longer viable; and
The existence of alternative sources, uses or needs for our capital and our debt leverage.
In determining the competitive position of a property, we examine the proximity and convenience of the property to its expected customer base, the number and characteristics of competitive properties within the property’s market area and the existence of barriers to entry for competitive properties within that market, including site availability and zoning restrictions. While we have historically focused on the acquisition of upscale limited service, extended stay and full service hotel properties, full service travel centers and necessity based retail net lease properties, we consider acquisitions in all segments of the hospitality, necessity based retail industries and other net leased properties. We expect most of our acquisition efforts will focus on hotel and net lease based properties; however, we may also consider acquiring other types of properties. An important part of our acquisition strategy is to identify and select or create qualified, experienced and financially stable operators.
Whenever we purchase an individual property or a small number of properties, we prefer arrangements in which these properties are added to agreements covering, and operated in combination with, properties we already own, but we may not always do so. We believe portfolios of diverse groups of properties may increase the security of our cash flows and likelihood our agreements will be renewed.
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 operated under any one brand, in properties managed by or leased to an affiliated group of entities or in securities of one or more persons.
Other Investments. We prefer wholly owned investments in fee interests. However, we may invest in leaseholds, joint ventures, mortgages and other real estate interests. We may invest or enter into real estate joint ventures if we conclude that we may benefit from the participation of co-venturers or that the opportunity to participate in the investment is contingent on the use of a joint venture structure. We may invest in participating, convertible or other types of mortgages if we conclude that we may benefit from the cash flows or appreciation in the value of the mortgaged property. Convertible mortgages are similar to equity participation because they permit lenders to either participate in increasing revenues from the property or convert some or all of that mortgage into equity ownership interests. At December 31, 2023, we owned no convertible mortgages or joint venture interests.
We have in the past considered, and may in the future consider, the possibility of entering into mergers or strategic combinations with other companies. Our principal goal of any such transactions will be to increase our cash flows from operations and to further diversify our revenue sources.
We own 34% of the outstanding common stock of Sonesta. We may in the future acquire additional shares of common stock of Sonesta or securities of other entities, including entities engaged in real estate activities, or we may sell these shares of common stock. We may invest in the securities of other entities for the purpose of exercising control or otherwise, make loans
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to other persons or entities, engage in the sale of investments, offer securities in exchange for property or repurchase our securities.
We may not achieve some or all of our investment objectives.
Disposition Policies. We generally consider ourselves to be a long term owner of properties and are more interested in the long term earnings potential of our properties than selling properties for short term gains. However, we may seek to strategically sell assets from time to time as part of managing our leverage, capital recycling, highest and best use analysis, or as part of long term financing of acquisitions. During 2023, we sold 18 hotels with 2,526 rooms for an aggregate sales price of $157.2 million and 13 net lease properties with an aggregate of 160,310 square feet for an aggregate sales price of $13.1 million. As of December 31, 2023, we had one hotel with a carrying value of $4.1 million and nine net lease properties with an aggregate carrying value of $6.4 million classified as held for sale. For more information on these disposition activities, see Note 3 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We currently make decisions to dispose of properties based on factors including, but not limited to, the following:
The property’s current and expected future performance;
The proposed or expected sale price;
The age and capital required to maintain the property;
The competition and demand generators near the property;
Our intended use of the proceeds we may realize from the sale of a property;
The strategic fit of the property with the rest of our portfolio and with our plans;
The manager’s or tenant’s desire to operate or cease operation of the property;
The remaining agreement term of the property, including the likelihood of a manager or tenant exercising any renewal options;
The existence of alternative sources, uses or needs for our capital and our debt leverage; and
The tax implications to us and our shareholders.
Our Board of Trustees may change our investment and operating policies at any time without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders.
Financing Policies
To maintain our qualification for taxation as a REIT under 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 or redevelopment efforts. Instead, we expect to repay our debts, invest in our properties and fund acquisitions and development or redevelopment efforts with borrowings under our revolving credit facility, proceeds from equity or debt securities we may issue (domestically or in foreign markets), including in subsidiaries, proceeds from our asset sales, or retained cash from operations that may exceed distributions paid.
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We believe our capital structure provides us with financial flexibility and we have historically had access to capital markets. We may seek to obtain other lines of credit or to issue securities senior to our common shares, including preferred shares of beneficial interest and debt securities, either of which may be convertible into common shares or be accompanied by warrants to purchase common shares, or to engage in transactions which may involve a sale or other conveyance or contribution of hotel, net lease or other properties or assets to subsidiaries or to other affiliates or unaffiliated entities. We may finance acquisitions, in whole or in part, by among other possible means, exchanging properties, issuing additional common shares or other securities or assuming outstanding mortgage debt on the acquired properties. We may also place new mortgages on our existing properties as a means of financing. 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 and expansions of existing or new properties. For further information regarding our financing sources and activities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Our Investment and Financing Liquidity and Capital Resources” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Although there are no limitations in our organizational documents on the amount of indebtedness we may incur, our debt agreements contain financial covenants which, among other things, restrict our ability to incur additional indebtedness and require us to maintain certain financial ratios. Our ability to incur additional debt is subject to meeting the required covenant levels and subject to the provisions of our debt agreements. For further information regarding our financing sources and activities, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Our Investment and Financing Liquidity and Capital Resources” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Generally, we intend to manage our leverage in a way that may allow us to eventually regain “investment grade” ratings from nationally recognized statistical rating organizations; however, we cannot be sure that we will be able to regain our investment grade ratings.
Our Board of Trustees may change our financing policies at any time without a vote of, or notice to, our shareholders.
Other Information
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. Adam D. Portnoy, the Chair of our Board of Trustees and one of our Managing Trustees, 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. John G. Murray, our other Managing Trustee and our former President and Chief Executive Officer, also serves as an officer and employee of RMR and is the chief executive officer of Sonesta. 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 February 22, 2024, the executive officers of RMR are: Adam D. Portnoy, president and chief executive officer; Christopher J. Bilotto, executive vice president; Jennifer B. Clark, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary; Matthew P. Jordan, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer and John G. Murray, executive vice president. Our President and Chief Investment Officer, Todd W. Hargreaves, and our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Brian E. Donley, are senior vice presidents of RMR. Mr. Donley also serves as an officer of another company to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services. Mr. Portnoy, Mr. Murray and Ms. Clark also serve on the board of directors of Sonesta.
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, 2023, RMR has over 1,100 full time employees in its headquarters and regional offices located throughout the United States.
Competition. The hotel industry is highly competitive. Generally, our hotels are located in areas that include other hotels. Our hotels compete for customers based on brand affiliation, reputation, location, pricing, amenities and the ability to earn reward program points and other competitive factors. Increases in the number of hotels in a particular area could have a material adverse effect on the occupancy and daily room rates at our hotels located in that area. Agreements with the operators of our hotels sometimes restrict the right of each operator and its affiliates for periods of time to own, build, operate, franchise or manage other hotels of the same brand within various specified areas around our hotels. Under these agreements, neither the
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operators nor their affiliates are usually restricted from operating other brands of hotels in the market areas of any of our hotels, and after such period of time, the operators and their affiliates may also compete with our hotels by opening, managing or franchising additional hotels under the same brand name in direct competition with our hotels. As of December 31, 2023, 195 of our hotels are operated by Sonesta. Sonesta faces competition from larger, well known hotel companies. Competitive pressures from these companies and others could negatively impact Sonesta’s ability to pay our owner’s priority returns. Our hotels also face competition from alternative lodging options such as home sharing services, timeshares, vacation rentals or cruise ships in our markets.
The market for net lease properties is also highly competitive. As an owner and landlord of retail net lease properties, we compete in the multi-billion dollar commercial real estate market with numerous developers and owners of properties, many of which own properties similar to ours and are in the same markets in which our properties are located. In operating and managing our portfolio, we compete for tenants based on a number of factors, including location, rental rates and flexibility. Certain of our competitors have greater economies of scale, have lower cost of capital, have access to more capital and resources and have greater name recognition than we do. If our competitors offer space at rental rates below current market rates or below the rental rates we currently charge our tenants, our tenants may not renew their leases, we might not enter into new leases with prospective tenants and we may be pressured to reduce our rental rates or to offer substantial rent abatements, tenant improvement allowances, early termination rights or below-market renewal options in order to retain tenants when their leases expire. Our tenants may also face competition from online retailers or service providers, which may in turn negatively impact their ability to pay rents due to us.
We have a large concentration of net lease properties in the travel center industry which is highly competitive. We believe that large, long haul trucking fleets tend to purchase the large majority of their fuel at the travel centers and truck stops that are located at or near interstate highway exits. Long haul truck drivers can obtain fuel and non-fuel products and services from a variety of sources, including regional full service travel centers and fuel only truck stop chains, independently owned and operated truck stops, some large gas stations and trucking company terminals that provide fuel and services to their own trucking fleets. In addition, our travel centers compete with other truck repair and maintenance facilities, full and quick service restaurants and travel stores, and could face additional competition from state owned interstate highway rest areas, if they are commercialized. The largest competitors of TA’s travel centers are travel centers owned by Pilot Flying J Inc. and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, which we believe, together with TA, represent a majority of the market for fuel sales to long haul trucking fleets. Competitive pressure from Pilot Flying J Inc. and Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, especially for large trucking fleets and long haul trucking fleets, could negatively impact TA’s ability to pay rents due to us.
We expect to compete for property acquisition and financing opportunities with entities which may have substantially greater financial resources than us, including, without limitation, other REITs, operating companies in the hospitality industry, banks, insurance companies, pension plans and public and private partnerships. These entities may be able to accept more risk than we can prudently manage, including risks with respect to the creditworthiness of property operators and the extent of leverage used in their capital structure. Such competition may reduce the number of suitable property acquisition or financing opportunities available to us or increase the bargaining power of property owners seeking to sell or finance their properties.
Corporate Sustainability. Our manager, RMR, periodically publishes its Sustainability Report, which summarizes the environmental, social and governance, or ESG, initiatives employed by RMR and its client companies, including us. Sonesta also publishes a Sustainability Report summarizing its ESG initiatives. RMR’s Sustainability Report may be accessed on the RMR Inc. website at www.rmrgroup.com/corporate-sustainability/default.aspx. Sonesta’s Sustainability Report may be accessed on the Sonesta website at www.sonesta.com/esg-sonesta. The information on or accessible through RMR Inc.’s or Sonesta’s website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We believe corporate sustainability is a strategic 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.
Our business strategy incorporates a focus on sustainable approaches to operating our properties in a manner that benefits us, our shareholders, operators and the communities in which we are located. As a REIT, we are prohibited by tax law from operating our hotel properties and all of our other properties are leased to or managed by third parties. However, our asset managers encourage our managers and tenants to operate our properties in ways that improve the economic performance of their operations, while simultaneously managing energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
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
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efficiency and enhance our competitiveness in the marketplace. Our sustainability and community engagement strategies, including those implemented by our hotel managers, focus on a complementary set of objectives, including the following:

•     Responsible Investment: We seek to invest capital in our properties that both improves environmental performance and enhances asset value. As part of our property acquisition due diligence and annual budgeting processes, RMR assesses, among other things, environmental sustainability opportunities and physical and policy driven climate related risks.
•     Environmental Stewardship: We seek to improve the environmental footprint of our properties, including by reducing energy consumption and water usage, especially when doing so may reduce operating costs and enhance the properties’ competitive position. Although our properties are operated by third parties or are net leased and, therefore, the third-party managers and tenants oversee most of the property maintenance and improvements over the lease term, RMR’s asset management group proactively leverages opportunities to make our properties more environmentally friendly and efficient. Working with our operators, we have:
initiated programs to reduce energy and water use;
implemented various initiatives to encourage recycling of plastics, paper and metal or glass containers;
when renovating hotels, used energy efficient products, including lighting, windows, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, and many appliances in extended stay hotels are ENERGY STAR® rated; and
installed electric car charging stations at some of our hotels and travel centers.
•     Investments in Human Capital. We have no employees. We rely on our managers, including RMR and Sonesta, to hire, train, and develop a workforce that meets the needs of our business, contributes positively to our society and helps reduce our impact on the natural environment.
Corporate Citizenship. We seek to be a responsible corporate citizen and to strengthen the communities in which we own properties. Our managers regularly encourage their employees to engage in a variety of charitable and community programs, including participation in company-wide service days and charitable gift giving matching programs.
Diversity and Inclusion. We value a diversity of backgrounds, experience and perspectives. Our Board of Trustees is comprised of 25% women and 25% members of under-represented communities. RMR is an equal opportunity employer, with all qualified applicants receiving consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. Our hotel managers are committed to racial equity and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion.
For more information regarding climate change and other environmental matters and their possible adverse impact on us, see “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—Ownership of real estate is subject to environmental risks and liabilities,” “Risk Factors—Risks Related to Our Business—We are subject to risks from adverse weather, natural disasters and adverse impacts from global climate change, and we incur significant costs and invest significant amounts with respect to these matters,” included in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Impact of Climate Change” included in Part II, Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Insurance. We generally have insurance coverage for our properties and the operations conducted on them, including for casualty, liability, fire, flood, earthquake, extended coverage and rental or business interruption losses. Either we purchase the insurance ourselves and our managers or tenants are required to reimburse us, or our managers or tenants buy the insurance directly and are required to list us as an insured party.
Internet Website. Our internet website address is www.svcreit.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, Service Properties 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
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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 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, Service Properties Trust, Two Newton Place, 255 Washington Street, Suite 300, Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1634 or by email at secretary@svcreit.com. 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.
Segment Information. As of December 31, 2023, we had two operating segments, hotel investments and net lease investments. For more information, 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 and our consolidated financial statements included in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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
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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 February 22, 2024. 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 1995 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 1995 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
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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 1995 through 2023 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
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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.
Other countries (and, for this purpose, Puerto Rico is best thought of as a separate country) may impose taxes on our and our subsidiaries’ assets and operations within their jurisdictions. As a REIT, neither we nor our shareholders are expected to benefit from foreign tax credits arising from those taxes.
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;
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(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 and bylaws restrict 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 and bylaws, 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
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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 may in the future form or acquire an entity that is intended to qualify for taxation as a REIT. 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 expect to make protective TRS elections with respect to any subsidiary REIT that we form or acquire 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. Among other requirements, a TRS of ours must:
(1)not directly or indirectly operate or manage a lodging facility or a health care facility; and
(2)not directly or indirectly provide to any person, under a franchise, license or otherwise, rights to any brand name under which any lodging facility or health care facility is operated, except that in limited circumstances a subfranchise, sublicense or similar right can be granted to an independent contractor to operate or manage a lodging facility or a health care facility.
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. Additionally, while a REIT is generally limited in its ability to earn qualifying rental income from a TRS, a REIT can earn qualifying rental income from the lease of a qualified lodging facility to a TRS if an eligible independent contractor operates the facility, as discussed more fully below.
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.
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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. In this regard, prior to the TA Merger, we owned close to, but less than, 10% of the outstanding common shares of TA. Our declaration of trust and bylaws generally disallow 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.
There is an additional exception to the above prohibition on earning “rents from real property” from a 10% affiliated tenant. For this additional exception to apply, a real property interest in a “qualified lodging facility” must be leased by the REIT to its TRS, and the facility must be operated on behalf of the TRS by a person who is an “eligible independent contractor,” all as described in Sections 856(d)(8)-(9) of the IRC. As described below, we believe our leases with our TRSs have satisfied and will continue to satisfy these requirements.
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.
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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
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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.
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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, including if the fluctuations are caused by changes in the foreign currency exchange rate used to value any foreign 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.
Our Relationship with TA. Prior to the TA Merger, we owned a significant percentage (but less than 10%) of the outstanding common shares of TA. Commencing with our 2007 taxable year and continuing through to the present, we expect that the rental income we have received and will receive from TA and its subsidiaries has constituted and will continue to constitute “rents from real property” under Section 856(d) of the IRC, and therefore qualifying income under the 75% and 95% gross income tests described above.
Our Relationship with Sonesta. As of December 31, 2023, we owned (directly and indirectly through one of our TRSs) 34% of the outstanding common shares of Sonesta. We have not elected to treat Sonesta as a TRS, and it is not otherwise an automatic TRS because no TRS of ours owns more than 35% of Sonesta. This structure for our Sonesta ownership permits our continued engagement of a corporate subsidiary of Sonesta to manage qualified lodging facilities leased to our TRSs, as described below in greater detail.
Our Relationship with Our Taxable REIT Subsidiaries. We currently own hotels that we purchased to be leased to our TRSs or which are being leased to our TRSs as a result of modifications to, or expirations of, a prior lease, all as agreed to by applicable parties. For example, in connection with past lease defaults and expirations, we have terminated occupancy of some of our hotels by the defaulting or expiring tenants and immediately leased these hotels to our TRSs and entered into new third-party management agreements for these hotels. We may from time to time lease additional hotels to our TRSs.
In lease transactions involving our TRSs, our intent is for the rents paid to us by the TRS to qualify as “rents from real property” under the REIT gross income tests summarized above. In order for this to be the case, the manager operating the leased property on behalf of the applicable TRS must be an “eligible independent contractor” within the meaning of Section 856(d)(9)(A) of the IRC, and the hotels leased to the TRS must be “qualified lodging facilities” within the meaning of Section
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856(d)(9)(D) of the IRC. Qualified lodging facilities are defined as hotels, motels or other establishments where more than half of the dwelling units are used on a transient basis, provided that legally authorized wagering or gambling activities are not conducted at or in connection with such facilities. Also included in the definition are the qualified lodging facility’s customary amenities and facilities.
For these purposes, a contractor qualifies as an “eligible independent contractor” if it is less than 35% affiliated with the REIT and, at the time the contractor enters into the agreement with the TRS to operate the qualified lodging facility, that contractor or any person related to that contractor is actively engaged in the trade or business of operating qualified lodging facilities for persons unrelated to the TRS or its affiliated REIT. For these purposes, an otherwise eligible independent contractor is not disqualified from that status on account of (a) the TRS bearing the expenses of the operation of the qualified lodging facility, (b) the TRS receiving the revenues from the operation of the qualified lodging facility, net of expenses for that operation and fees payable to the eligible independent contractor, or (c) the REIT receiving income from the eligible independent contractor pursuant to a preexisting or otherwise grandfathered lease of another property.
We have engaged as an intended eligible independent contractor a particular corporate subsidiary of Sonesta. This contractor and its affiliates are actively engaged in the trade or business of operating qualified lodging facilities for their own accounts, including pursuant to management contracts among themselves; however, this contractor and its affiliates have few if any management contracts for qualified lodging facilities with third parties other than us and our TRSs. Based on a plain reading of the statute as well as applicable legislative history, our counsel, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, is of the opinion that this intended eligible independent contractor should in fact so qualify. If the IRS or a court determines that this opinion is incorrect, then the rental income we receive from our TRSs in respect of properties managed by this particular contractor would be nonqualifying income for purposes of the 75% and 95% gross income tests, possibly jeopardizing our compliance with one or both of these gross income tests. Under those circumstances, however, we expect we would qualify for the gross income tests’ relief provision described above, and thereby would preserve our qualification for taxation as a REIT. If the relief provision were to apply to us, we would be subject to tax at a 100% rate 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; even though we have little or no nonqualifying income from other sources in a typical taxable year, imposition of this 100% tax in this circumstance would be material because to date most of the properties leased to our TRSs are managed for the TRSs by this contractor.
As explained above, we will be subject to a 100% tax on the rents paid to us by any of our TRSs if the IRS successfully asserts that those rents exceed an arm’s length rental rate. Although there is no clear precedent to distinguish for federal income tax purposes among leases, management contracts, partnerships, financings, and other contractual arrangements, we believe that our leases and our TRSs’ management agreements will be respected for purposes of the requirements of the IRC discussed above. Accordingly, we expect that the rental income from our current and future TRSs will qualify as “rents from real property,” and that the 100% tax on excessive rents from a TRS will not apply.
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.”
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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 have engaged in and 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 have made or do make an applicable TRS election, each of our acquired entities and their various wholly-owned corporate and noncorporate subsidiaries generally became or 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 have been and will be treated as ours for purposes of the various REIT qualification tests described above. In addition, we generally have been and 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, as we have done from time to time in the past, 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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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;
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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.
Prohibited Transactions
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
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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 and bylaws 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 bylaws 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.”
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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:
unfavorable market and commercial real estate industry conditions due to, among other things, high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain disruptions, volatility in the public equity and debt markets and in the commercial real estate markets, generally, pandemics, geopolitical instability and tensions, economic downturns or a possible recession and other conditions beyond our control, may have a material adverse effect on our and our hotel managers’ and other operators’ and tenants’ results of operations and financial conditions and they may be unable to satisfy their obligations to us;
we have a substantial amount of debt and we are subject to risks related to our debt, including our ability to refinance maturing debt and the cost of any such refinanced debt and our ability to maintain or reduce our debt leverage levels, covenants and conditions contained in our debt agreements which may restrict our operations by increasing our interest expense and limiting our ability to make investments in our properties, sell properties securing our debt and pay distributions to our shareholders, potential downgrades to our credit ratings and other limitations on our ability to access capital at reasonable costs or at all;
we have a high concentration of properties that are operated by Sonesta and TA, and their failure to profitably operate our properties or perform their obligations under their agreements with us, could adversely impact our results of operations, and we could experience significant disruption to our operations if we were required to replace either Sonesta or TA;
we and our managers and tenants face significant competition;
we may be unable to renew our leases or lease our properties to new tenants when they expire without decreasing rents or incurring significant costs or at all;
our potential future sales or acquisitions may not be successful or may not be executed on the terms or within the timing we expect as a result of competition, ongoing market and economic conditions, including capital market disruptions, high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, or otherwise;
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 adverse impacts from global climate change;
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 or our hotel managers’ information technology;
our management structure and agreements with RMR and our relationships with our related parties, including our Managing Trustees, RMR and Sonesta and others affiliated with them, may create conflicts of interest;
sustainability 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.
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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
Unfavorable market and industry conditions may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and ability to pay distributions to our shareholders.
Our business and operations may be adversely affected by market and economic volatility experienced by the U.S. and global economies, the commercial real estate industry and/or the local economies in the markets in which our properties are located. Unfavorable economic and industry conditions may be due to, among other things, high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain disruptions, volatility in the public equity and debt markets, pandemics, geopolitical instability and tensions, economic downturns or a possible recession and other conditions beyond our control. As economic conditions in the United States may affect business and leisure travel, hotel occupancy, trucking volume and demand for diesel fuel, gasoline, real estate values, occupancy levels and returns and rents, current and future economic conditions in the United States, including slower growth or a possible 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 may negatively impact our ability to pay distributions to our shareholders and these or other conditions may have similar impacts in the future and on our results of operations and financial condition.
Our and our managers’ and other operators’ and tenants’ businesses may not return to historical levels, and they may be unable to satisfy their obligations to us.
As a result of market practices that arose or increased in recent years and the impacts they have had on travel and the broader economy throughout the United States, our hotels experienced significant declines in operating performance which have had a significant negative effect on our operating results and cash flow. Consumer confidence, customer demand, corporate travel and lodging demand have been and will continue to be affected by economic and market conditions, unemployment levels, perceptions of the safety of travel, the continued use of video conferencing technologies rather than in person meetings and broader macroeconomic trends and conditions. These trends, together with increasing labor costs and shortages, high interest rates, tax rates, commodity and other price inflation and supply chain challenges, may continue to negatively impact our hotel operations, the operations of our tenants and our financial results and may have an impact on the results of operations and financial condition of our tenants and result in their defaulting their obligations under our leases, including failing to pay the rent due to us. Such adverse economic conditions may also reduce overall demand for leased space, which could adversely affect our ability to maintain our current tenants or attract new tenants. At any given time, our tenants may experience a downturn in their business that may weaken the operating results and financial condition of individual properties or of their business as whole. As a result, a tenant may delay lease commencement, decline to extend a lease upon its expiration, fail to make rental payments when due, become insolvent or declare bankruptcy. We depend on our tenants to operate the properties we lease to them in a manner that generates revenues sufficient to allow them to meet their obligations to us, including their obligations to pay rent, maintain certain insurance coverage and pay real estate taxes and maintain the properties. Our tenants’ failure to successfully operate their businesses could materially and adversely affect us.
If our hotel managers fail to operate our hotels profitably, we may need to fund operating losses for those hotels or make capital contributions to Sonesta.
The owner’s priority returns we receive from our managed hotels are dependent upon the financial results of those hotels’ operations. Decrease demand from pandemics, public health safety concerns or otherwise may result in our managed hotels experiencing operating losses that we will need to fund. Further, we own 34% of Sonesta. If Sonesta experiences losses, or requires additional capital, Sonesta may request we fund our share through the contribution of additional capital. For more information about our agreements with Sonesta, see Notes 4, 5, and 9 to our consolidated financial statements in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
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We have a substantial amount of debt and are subject to risks related to our debt, including our ability to refinance maturing debt and the cost of any such refinanced debt.
As of December 31, 2023, our consolidated debt was $5.6 billion.
We are subject to numerous risks associated with our debt, including our ability to refinance maturing debt and the cost of any refinancing, the risk that our cash flows could be insufficient for us to make required payments and risks associated with interest rates remaining high for an extended period of time. There are no limits in our organizational documents on the amount of debt we may incur, and, subject to any limitations in our debt agreements, we may incur additional 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. High interest rates have significantly increased our borrowing costs. Although we have an option to extend the maturity date of certain of our debt upon payment of a fee and meeting other conditions, the applicable conditions may not be met, and we may be required to repay or refinance our existing debt with new debt on less favorable terms. Excessive or expensive debt could reduce the available cash flow to fund, or limit our ability to obtain financing for, working capital, lease obligations, capital expenditures, refinancing, acquisitions, development or redevelopment projects or other purposes and hinder our ability 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 could seek payment from the subsidiary guarantors under our credit agreement, seek to sell any pledged equity interests of certain subsidiaries or the mortgaged properties owned by certain pledged subsidiaries, or 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 and hotel operating returns we receive from our properties, or in the case of our credit agreement, the value of properties securing the revolving credit facility. If our rents or returns decline, or the values of our properties 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 could seek payment from the subsidiary guarantors under our credit agreement, seek to sell any pledged equity interests of certain subsidiaries or the mortgaged properties owned by such pledged subsidiaries, or 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.
Secured debt exposes us to the possibility of foreclosure, which could result in the loss of our investment in certain of our subsidiaries or in a property or group of properties or other assets that secure that debt.
We have a substantial amount of debt that is secured by properties that we own or by a pledge of the equity interests of certain of our subsidiaries. Secured debt, including mortgage and asset backed debt, increases our risk of asset and property losses because defaults on debt secured by our assets may result in foreclosure actions initiated by lenders and ultimately our loss of the property or other assets securing any loans if we are in default under such loans. Any foreclosure on a mortgaged property or group of properties could have a material adverse effect on the overall value of our portfolio of properties and more generally on us. For tax purposes, a foreclosure of any of our properties would be treated as a sale of the property for a purchase
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price equal to the outstanding balance of the debt secured by the mortgage. If the outstanding balance of the debt secured by the mortgage exceeds our tax basis in the property, we would recognize taxable income on foreclosure, but would not receive any cash proceeds, which could materially and adversely affect us.
High interest rates have significantly increased our interest expense and may otherwise materially and negatively affect us.
In response to significant and prolonged increases in inflation, the U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates multiple times since the beginning of 2022, which has significantly increased our interest expense. Although the U.S. Federal Reserve has indicated that it may lower interest rates in 2024, we cannot be sure that it will do so, and interest rates may remain at the current high levels or continue to increase. High interest rates may materially and negatively affect us in several ways, including:
one of the factors that investors typically consider important in deciding whether to buy or sell our common shares is the distribution rate on our common shares relative to prevailing interest rates. If interest rates 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 with higher distribution rates. Sales of our common shares may cause a decline in the market price of our common shares;
amounts outstanding under our revolving credit facility require interest to be paid at floating interest rates. High interest rates have significantly increased our borrowing costs, which adversely affects our cost of refinancing our debts when they become due, our cash flows, our ability to pay principal and interest on our debt 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;
we have a substantial amount of fixed rate debt maturing over the next few years. Our ability to refinance this debt and the cost of any such refinancing will be subject to market conditions, our financial condition and operating performance and our credit ratings; and
property values are often determined, in part, based upon a capitalization of rental income formula. When interest rates are high, such as they are currently, real estate transaction volumes slow due to increased borrowing costs and property investors often demand higher capitalization rates, which causes property values to decline. High interest rates could therefore lower the value of our properties and cause the value of our securities to decline.
We have a high concentration of properties that are operated by Sonesta or TA.
As of December 31, 2023, Sonesta operated 195 of our 221 hotels, which constituted 49.8% of our historical real estate investments, and we leased 176 travel centers to TA, which constituted approximately 28.8% of our total historical real estate investments. If either Sonesta or TA were to fail to successfully operate our properties or meet their obligations under our agreements, our income from these properties may be adversely affected. Further, if we were required to replace Sonesta or TA, we could experience significant disruptions in operations at the applicable properties, which could reduce our income and cash flows from, and the value of, those properties.
We have no guarantee or security deposit under our agreements with Sonesta and our results from properties operated by Sonesta are subject to the performance of Sonesta, seasonal trends and the general conditions of the lodging industry.
TA’s parent company has provided us a limited guarantee of our leases. If the guarantor of our leases does not earn sufficient income from their businesses, it may not have sufficient resources independent of these leaseholds to pay their guarantee obligations to us.
Inherent risks in the hotel industry could impact Sonesta and our other managers and affect our business.
Approximately 55.5% of our historical real estate investments as of December 31, 2023, are in our hotel properties. Our hotels are subject to operating risks common to the hotel industry, many of which are beyond our control and may impact Sonesta and our other managers, including risks associated with:
competition from other hotels in our markets, or an oversupply of hotels in our markets;
increased operating costs, including wages, benefits, insurance and utilities, due to prolonged high inflation, increased minimum wages and other factors, which may not be offset in the future by increased room rates;
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increased property taxes due to many state and local governments facing budget deficits, or seeking to expand services, that have led many of them, and may in the future lead others to, increase assessments and/or taxes;
changes in marketing and distribution for the industry including the ability of third party internet and other travel intermediaries to attract and retain customers;
competition from other hotel operators or others to attract and retain qualified employees;
competition from alternative lodging options such as home sharing services, timeshares, vacation rentals or cruise ships in our markets;
low unemployment in the U.S. and a lack of suitable employees for certain job classifications, especially those for less skilled positions, which may drive up costs or affect service levels;
labor strikes, disruptions or lockouts that may impact operating performance;
dependence on demand from business and leisure travelers, which may fluctuate and be seasonal and could experience prolonged declines as a result of economic downturns or recessions or otherwise and possible long term changes in business and consumer practices;
increases in energy costs, airline fares and other expenses related to travel, which may negatively affect traveling;
decreases in demand for business and leisure travel due to terrorism, terrorism alerts and warnings, military actions, natural disasters, concerns about climate change, pandemics or other public health safety concerns;
decreases in demand for business travel due to use of technologies that enhance interpersonal communication and interaction without the need to travel or meet in person; and
changes in customer preferences for various types of hotels or hotel locations.
For these reasons, among others, Sonesta may be unable to pay amounts due to us under the terms of our management agreements with Sonesta. For more information about our management agreements with Sonesta, see Notes 4, 5 and 9 to our consolidated financial statements in Part IV, Item 15 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We may be unable to fund capital improvements at our properties and our investments may cost more and take longer to complete than expected.
Some of our management agreements and lease arrangements require us to fund capital improvements at certain of our properties. Hotels in particular require us to expend significant amounts to maintain them and to meet brand standards. We may not have the funds necessary to make necessary or desired improvements to our properties and such investments, if made, may not be sufficient to maintain or improve the financial results of our properties. Certain of our management agreements and lease arrangements require us to maintain the applicable properties in a certain required condition. If we fail to maintain these properties in the required condition, the operator may terminate the applicable management or lease agreement and hold us liable for damages. Planned capital investments could cost more and take longer to complete than expected as a result of labor costs and shortages and commodity and other price inflation due to supply chain challenges, among other things.
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:
the extent of our debt leverage;
the availability, terms and cost of debt and equity capital;
competition from other investors; and
contingencies in our acquisition agreements.
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:
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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;
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.
We are limited in our ability to operate our properties and are thus dependent on our operators.
Because federal income tax laws restrict REITs and their subsidiaries from operating or managing businesses at their properties, we do not operate our hotels or net lease properties. Instead, we lease all our hotels to our subsidiaries that qualify as TRSs under the IRC and lease our other properties to operating companies. We have retained third party managers to manage our hotels that are leased to our TRSs. Our income from our properties may be adversely affected if our operators fail to provide quality services and amenities to customers. While we monitor the performance of our operators and apply asset management strategies and discipline, we have limited recourse under our management agreements and leases if we believe that our operators are not performing adequately. Any failure by our operators to fully perform the duties agreed to in our management agreements and leases could adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, our operators operate, and, in some cases, own or have invested in, properties that compete with our properties, which may result in conflicts of interest. As a result, our operators have made, and may in the future make, decisions regarding competing properties or our properties’ operations that may not be in our best interests and which may result in a reduction of our returns.
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 also 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 debt, the extent of our leverage or for reasons beyond our control, such as capital market volatility, high interest rates and other market conditions. 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.
The businesses conducted at our properties face significant competition. For example, our hotels compete with other hotels operated in our markets, and the hotel industry has in the past experienced significant growth in supply from construction in certain markets where we own hotels. Our travel center properties compete with other large, national operators of travel centers, and certain of their competitors have significantly increased the number of travel centers they operate, including as a result of new construction of travel centers. Some of our retail tenants compete with online retailers or service providers. We also compete for tenants at our retail net lease properties. Our retail net lease properties compete in the multi-billion dollar commercial real estate market with numerous developers and owners of properties, many of which own properties similar to ours and are in the same markets in which our properties are located. In operating and managing our retail net lease portfolio, we compete for tenants based on a number of factors, including location, rental rates and flexibility. Certain of our competitors have greater economies of scale, have lower cost of capital, have access to more capital and resources and have greater name recognition than we do.
We face significant competition for acquisition opportunities from other investors, including publicly traded and private REITs, numerous financial institutions, operating companies in the hospitality industry, individuals, foreign investors and other
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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 property operators 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.
Substantially all of our net lease properties are leased to single tenants, which may subject us to greater risks of loss than if each of those properties had multiple tenants.
Substantially all of our net lease properties are leased to single tenants. The value of single tenant properties is materially dependent on the performance of those tenants under their respective leases. Many of our single tenant leases require that certain property level operating expenses and capital expenditures, such as real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs, including increases with respect thereto, be paid, or reimbursed to us, by our tenants. Accordingly, in addition to our not receiving rental income, a tenant default on such leases could make us responsible for paying these expenses. Because most of our net lease properties are leased to single tenants, the adverse impact of individual tenant defaults or non-renewals is likely to be greater than would be the case if our properties were leased to multiple tenants.
Many of our tenants do not have credit ratings.
The majority of our tenants are not rated by any nationally recognized credit rating organization. It is more difficult to assess the ability of a tenant that is not rated to meet its obligations than that of a rated tenant. Moreover, tenants may be rated when we enter leases with them, but their ratings may be later lowered or terminated during the term of the leases. Because we have many unrated tenants, we may experience a higher percentage of tenant defaults than landlords who have a higher percentage of highly rated tenants.
We may be unable to renew leases, lease vacant space or re-lease space as leases expire on favorable terms or at all.
Our results of operations depend, in part, on our ability to lease our retail properties by renewing or re-leasing expiring leases and leasing vacant space and optimizing our tenant mix. As of December 31, 2023, leases representing approximately 2.1% of our annualized minimum net lease rents will expire during 2024. As of December 31, 2023, 3.7% of the leasable square footage of our net lease properties was vacant. Current tenants may decline, or may not have the financial resources available, to renew current leases and we cannot guarantee that leases that are renewed will have terms that are as economically favorable to us as the expiring lease terms. If tenants do not renew their leases as they expire, or renew for less space, we will have to find new tenants to lease our properties and there is no guarantee that we will be able to find new tenants or that our properties will be re-leased at rental rates equal to or above the current average rental rates or that substantial rent abatements, tenant improvement allowances, early termination rights, below-market renewal options or other lease incentive payments will not be offered to attract new tenants. Unfavorable market and industry conditions, including high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain challenges and economic downturns or a possible recession, may increase these risks. We may experience significant costs in connection with renewing, leasing or re-leasing our properties, which could materially and adversely affect us.
Vacancies in a property could result in significant capital expenditures and illiquidity and reduce the value of the property.
The loss of a tenant may reduce the value of a property and require us to spend significant amounts of capital to renovate the property before it is suitable for a new tenant. Many of the leases we enter into or acquire are for properties that are especially suited to the particular business of our tenants. Because these properties have been designed or physically modified for a particular tenant, if the current lease is terminated or not renewed, we may be required to renovate the property at substantial costs, decrease the rent we charge or provide other concessions in order to lease the property to another tenant. We may also have difficulty selling the property due to the special purpose for which the property may have been designed or modified. This potential illiquidity may limit our ability to quickly modify our portfolio in response to changes in economic or other conditions, including tenant demand.
Some of our net lease tenants operate the properties they lease from us under franchise or license agreements, which, if terminated or not renewed prior to the expiration of their leases with us, would likely impair their ability to pay us rent.
Some of our net lease properties are operated by our tenants under franchise or license agreements. Those franchise or license agreements may have terms that end earlier than the respective expiration dates of our related leases. In addition, a franchisee’s or licensee’s rights as a franchisee or licensee could be terminated by the franchisor or licensor, in which case our tenant may be precluded from competing with the franchisor or licensor upon that termination. A franchisor’s or licensor’s termination or refusal to renew a franchise or license agreement with our tenant would likely have a material adverse effect on
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the ability of the tenant to pay rent to us. In addition, we may have no notice or cure rights with respect to such a termination and have no rights to assignment of any such franchise or license agreement. This may have an adverse effect on our ability to mitigate losses that may result from a default of our leases by a terminated franchisee or licensee.
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 operators of real estate may be required to investigate and clean up or remove hazardous substances present at or migrating from properties they own 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 operators of our properties to incur costs to comply with.
Our travel centers and certain of our other properties include fueling areas, truck repair and maintenance facilities and vehicles and tanks for the storage of petroleum products and other hazardous substances, all of which create the potential for environmental contamination. As a result, the tenants of these properties regularly incur environmental costs related to monitoring, prevention and remediation. Under our net lease property leases, we are generally indemnified from all environmental liabilities arising at our respective properties during the term of the leases. Despite this indemnity, various federal and state laws impose environmental liabilities upon property owners, such as us, for any environmental damages arising at, or migrating from, properties they own and we cannot be sure that we will not be liable for environmental investigation and clean up at, or near, our properties. Moreover, tenants may not have sufficient resources to pay their environmental liabilities and environmental indemnity to us. The negative impact on our tenants from economic downturns, volatility in the petroleum markets, industry challenges facing the trucking and service industries and our tenants’ businesses and other factors may make it more likely that they will be unable to fulfill their indemnification obligations to us in the event that environmental claims arise at our properties. Any environmental liabilities for which we are responsible and not indemnified could adversely affect our financial condition and result in losses.
We are subject to risks associated with our hotel managers’ employment of personnel.
Our hotel managers are responsible for hiring and maintaining the labor force at each of our hotel properties. Although we do not directly employ or manage employees at our hotel properties, we are subject to many of the costs and risks associated with the hotel labor force. From time to time, hotel operations may be disrupted as a result of strikes, lockouts, public demonstrations or other negative actions and publicity. We may also incur increased legal costs and indirect labor costs as a result of contract disputes and other events. The resolution of labor disputes or renegotiated labor contracts could lead to increased labor costs, either by increases in wages or benefits or by changes in work rules. Labor costs have increased and our hotel managers have experienced labor shortages at our hotels, and these conditions may continue for an extended period. In addition, regulations in certain jurisdictions, such as increases in minimum wages, have increased our hotel managers’ labor costs. Our hotel managers may be unable to adequately staff our hotels as a result of these or other reasons, which may limit the business activity at our hotels, decrease the quality of services provided at our hotels and damage our and our applicable hotel managers’ reputations in the marketplace.
We may not succeed in selling properties we identify for sale and any proceeds we may receive from sales we do complete may be less than expected, and we may incur losses with respect to any such sales.
We plan to selectively sell certain properties from time to time to reduce our leverage, fund capital expenditures and future acquisitions and strategically update, rebalance and reposition our investment portfolio. Our ability to sell properties and the prices we may receive in any such sales, may be affected by various factors. In particular, these factors could arise from, among other things:
weaknesses in or a lack of established markets for the properties we may identify for sale;
the availability of financing to potential purchasers on reasonable terms;
changes in the financial condition of prospective purchasers for, and the tenants of, the properties;
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the terms of leases with tenants at certain of the properties;
the characteristics, quality and prospects of the properties;
the number of prospective purchasers;
the number of competing properties in the market;
unfavorable local, national or international economic conditions, such as high interest rates, labor market challenges, prolonged high inflation, supply chain challenges and economic downturns or a possible recession; and
changes in laws, regulations or fiscal policies of jurisdictions in which the properties are located.
For example, current market conditions have caused, and may continue to cause, increased capitalization rates which, together with high interest rates, have resulted in reduced commercial real estate transaction volume, and such conditions may continue or worsen. We may not succeed in selling properties and any sales may be delayed or may not occur or, if sales do occur, the terms may not meet our expectations and we may incur losses in connection with any sales. In addition, we may elect to forego or abandon property sales. If we are unable to realize proceeds from the sale of assets sufficient to allow us to reduce our leverage to a level we believe appropriate or which ratings agencies and possible financing sources believe appropriate, we may be unable to fund capital investments or future acquisitions to grow our business. In addition, we may elect to change or abandon our strategy and forego or abandon property or other asset sales.
Bankruptcy law may adversely impact us.
The occurrence of a tenant bankruptcy could reduce the rent we receive from that tenant, and the current economic conditions, such as high interest rates, prolonged high inflation, labor market challenges, supply chain disruptions and economic downturns or a possible recession, may increase the risk of our tenants or hotel managers filing for bankruptcy. If a tenant files for bankruptcy, federal law may prohibit us from evicting that tenant based solely upon its bankruptcy, and a bankrupt tenant may be authorized to reject and terminate its lease with us. Any claims against a bankrupt tenant for unpaid future rent would be subject to statutory limitations that may be substantially less than the contractually specified rent we are owed under the lease, and any claim we have for unpaid past rent may not be paid in full. If any of our tenants or hotel managers files for bankruptcy, we may experience delays in enforcing our rights, we may be limited in our ability to replace the tenant or hotel manager and we may incur substantial costs in protecting our investment and re-leasing or finding a replacement tenant or hotel manager.
Insurance may not adequately cover our losses, and insurance costs may continue to increase.
We or our operators are generally responsible for the costs of insurance coverage for our properties and the operations conducted on them, including for casualty, liability, malpractice, 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 our operators. Increased insurance costs may adversely affect our operators’ abilities to operate our properties profitably and provide us with desirable returns and our operators’ 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 or 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 an operator 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 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 operators 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.
We are subject to risks from adverse weather, natural disasters and adverse impacts from global climate change, 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 adverse impacts from global climate change. 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
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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 in response to our tenants’ requests for such investments and we may not realize desirable returns on those investments.
RMR and our hotel managers rely 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 and our hotel managers rely on information technology and systems, including the Internet and cloud-based infrastructures and services, commercially available software and their respective internally developed applications, to process, transmit, store and safeguard information and to manage or support a variety of their business processes (including managing our building systems), including financial transactions and maintenance of records, which may include personal identifying information of employees, guests, 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 and our hotel managers take various actions, and incur 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, our hotel managers’ or other third parties’ information technology networks and systems or operations. Although much of RMR’s and Sonesta’s staff returned to their respective offices during the pandemic, flexible working arrangements have resulted in a higher extent of remote working than they experienced prior to the pandemic. This and other possible changing work practices have adversely impacted, and may in the future adversely impact, RMR’s, our hotel managers’ or other third parties’ abilities to maintain the security, proper function and availability of their respective information technology and systems since remote working by their employees could strain their respective 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, our hotel managers’ or other third parties’ 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, our hotel managers 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.
Sustainability initiatives, requirements and market expectations may impose additional costs and expose us to new risks.
There continues to be increased focus from regulators, investors, tenants and other stakeholders concerning corporate sustainability. The SEC is considering climate change related regulations and certain states have enacted climate focused disclosure laws and we may incur significant costs in compliance with such rules. 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. Pursuant to RMR’s zero emissions goal, RMR 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 comply with ESG related regulations and to satisfy the expectations of investors
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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 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 regulatory requirements, ESG policies or third party expectations or demands.
Market and government actions in response to concerns about global climate change and supply chain challenges may negatively impact our business.
Market and government actions in response to global climate change may result in a reduction in transient travel and demand for fossil fuels and may result in increased costs in response to market demands and government regulation. For instance, in response to concerns about burning fossil fuels, air and on road vehicle travel may decline, which may result in less demand for stays at our hotels and fuel at our travel centers. Further, if in response to global supply chain challenges, there is a movement to increase onshore manufacturing and production of goods, truck transportation in the United States may decline, which may reduce the demand for products and services at our travel center properties.
Risks Related to Our Relationships with RMR and Sonesta
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 subsidiaries also act as the manager to certain other Nasdaq listed companies and private companies, and Mr. Portnoy serves as a managing trustee, director or trustee, as applicable, of those companies, and as chair of the board of trustees of those Nasdaq listed companies.
John Murray, our other Managing Trustee, Todd Hargreaves, our President and Chief Investment Officer, and Brian Donley, our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, are also officers and employees of RMR. Mr. Murray is also a director and the president and chief executive officer of Sonesta, and Mr. Donley is also the chief financial officer and treasurer of Office Properties Income Trust, or OPI, another REIT managed by RMR. Messrs. Portnoy, Murray, Hargreaves and Donley have duties to RMR, Mr. Murray has duties to Sonesta and Mr. Donley has duties to OPI, 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 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
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which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services and some of these companies have significant cross ownership interests, including, for example: as of December 31, 2023, Mr. Portnoy beneficially owned, in aggregate, 1.1% of our outstanding common shares and Mr. Portnoy is the controlling shareholder of Sonesta, and we own 34% of Sonesta’s outstanding common stock. Our executive officers 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 we also pay RMR 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.
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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.
Our business dealings with Sonesta comprise a significant part of our lodging portfolio and they may create conflicts of interest or the perception of such conflicts of interest.
Sonesta managed 195 of our hotels as of December 31, 2023. Sonesta is controlled by Adam Portnoy. Mr. Portnoy, Mr. Murray and Jennifer Clark, our Secretary, are directors of Sonesta, and Mr. Murray is also Sonesta’s president and chief executive officer. Other officers and employees of Sonesta are former employees of RMR. We own 34% of Sonesta’s outstanding common stock.
The historical and continuing relationships which we, RMR and Mr. Portnoy have with Sonesta could create, or appear to create, conflicts of interest with respect to matters involving us, the other companies to which RMR or its subsidiaries provide management services and their related parties. As a result of these relationships, our agreements with Sonesta 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, their terms may be different from those negotiated on an arm’s length basis between unrelated 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.
We may not realize the benefits we expect from our investment in Sonesta.
We own 34% of Sonesta’s outstanding common stock. Risks that we have identified elsewhere in this Risk Factors section, particularly those relating to the hotel industry, are applicable to our ownership of Sonesta common stock. In addition, Sonesta is a private company that is controlled by Adam Portnoy, one of our Managing Trustees. We have a minority ownership interest in Sonesta, and are therefore limited in our ability to direct or influence Sonesta’s corporate level decisions or to affect changes in Sonesta’s business, strategies, operations and management. In addition, Sonesta’s common stock is not publicly traded and our ability to sell our Sonesta shares is limited. Further, any attempt we may make to sell our Sonesta common stock may be unsuccessful and any price that we may be able to realize for our Sonesta common stock may be at a discount due to the minority ownership interest the stock represents and the absence of a trading market for Sonesta’s common stock. As a result of the foregoing, and for other possible reasons, we may not realize any of the benefits we currently expect from our ownership of Sonesta common stock, we may be prevented from selling our Sonesta common stock and we could incur losses from our ownership of Sonesta common stock, including our proportion of any operating or other losses that Sonesta may incur.
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. Our shareholders or the shareholders of RMR Inc. or other related parties may challenge any such related party transactions. If any 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 vote against 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 have affected the outcomes of past Board of Trustees elections and votes on our say on pay and other shareholder votes,
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and similar recommendations in the future would likely affect the outcome of future Board of Trustees elections and other shareholder votes, 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
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; however, provisions in our debt agreements may limit us from incurring additional debt. 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 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.
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 and bylaws prohibit 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. These provisions of our declaration of trust and bylaws are intended to, among other purposes, assist with our REIT compliance under the IRC and otherwise promote our orderly governance. However, these provisions 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;
requirements that shareholders comply with regulatory requirements (including Nevada and Louisiana gaming) affecting us which could effectively limit share ownership of us, including, in some cases, to 5% of our outstanding shares;
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;
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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.
Certain aspects of our business may prevent shareholders from accumulating a large stake in us, from nominating or serving as our Trustees, or from taking actions to otherwise control our business.
Certain of our properties include gambling operations. Applicable state laws require that any shareholder who owns or controls 5% or more of our securities or anyone who wishes to serve as one of our Trustees must be licensed or approved by the state regulators responsible for gambling operations. These approval procedures may discourage or prevent investors from purchasing our securities, from nominating persons to serve as our Trustees or from taking other actions.
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 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 which some shareholders may believe are not in our best interest.
Shareholder litigation against us or our Trustees, officers, managers 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 bylaws, as they may be amended from time to time. Our bylaws provide that certain actions by one or more of our shareholders against us or any of our Trustees, officers, managers 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, managers 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, managers 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, managers 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 bylaws 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 bylaws’ 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 bylaws also generally provide that each party to such an
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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 bylaws may discourage our shareholders from bringing, and attorneys from agreeing to represent our shareholders wishing to bring, litigation against us or our Trustees, officers, managers or other agents. Our leases with TA and our agreements with RMR and Sonesta have similar arbitration provisions to those in our bylaws.
We believe that the arbitration provisions in our bylaws 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 bylaws may ultimately be determined to be unenforceable.
By agreeing to the arbitration provisions of our bylaws, 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, managers 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, managers or other agents to us or our shareholders; (3) any action asserting a claim against us or any of our Trustees, officers, managers 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, managers 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, managers 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, managers or other agents, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our Trustees, officers, managers or other agents.
Disputes with RMR may be referred to mandatory arbitration proceedings, which follow different procedures than in-court litigation and may be more restrictive to those asserting claims than in-court litigation.
Our agreements with RMR provide that any dispute arising thereunder will be referred to mandatory, binding and final arbitration proceedings if we, or any other party to such dispute, unilaterally so demands. As a result, we and our shareholders would not be able to pursue litigation in state or federal court against RMR if we or any other parties against whom the claim is made unilaterally demands the matter be resolved by arbitration. In addition, the ability to collect attorneys’ fees or other damages may be limited in the arbitration proceedings, which may discourage attorneys from agreeing to represent parties wishing to bring such litigation.
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Risks Related to Our Taxation
Our failure to remain qualified for taxation as a REIT under the IRC or the loss of our other special tax statuses 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.
Similarly, under existing law and through available tax concessions, we have minimized the Canadian and Puerto Rican income taxes that we must pay. We believe that we have operated, and are operating, in compliance with the requirements of these laws and tax concessions. However, we cannot be sure that, upon review or audit, the local tax authority will agree. If the existing laws or concessions are unavailable to us in the future, then we may be subject to material amounts of income taxes and the market price of our common shares could decline.
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.
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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.
If arrangements involving our TRSs fail to comply as intended with the REIT qualification and taxation rules, we may fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT under the IRC or be subject to significant penalty taxes.
We lease all of our hotel properties to our TRSs pursuant to arrangements that, under the IRC, are intended to qualify the rents we receive from our TRSs as income that satisfies the REIT gross income tests. We also intend that our transactions with our TRSs be conducted on arm’s length bases so that we and our TRSs will not be subject to penalty taxes under the IRC applicable to mispriced transactions. While relief provisions can sometimes excuse REIT gross income test failures, significant penalty taxes may still be imposed.
For our TRS arrangements to comply as intended with the REIT qualification and taxation rules under the IRC, a number of requirements must be satisfied, including:
our TRSs may not directly or indirectly operate or manage a lodging facility, as defined by the IRC;
the leases to our TRSs must be respected as true leases for federal income tax purposes and not as service contracts, partnerships, joint ventures, financings or other types of arrangements;
the leased properties must constitute qualified lodging facilities (including customary amenities and facilities) under the IRC;
our leased properties must be managed and operated on behalf of the TRSs by independent contractors who are less than 35% affiliated with us and who are actively engaged (or have affiliates so engaged) in the trade or business of managing and operating qualified lodging facilities for any person unrelated to us; and
the rental and other terms of the leases must be arm’s length.
We cannot be sure that the IRS or a court will agree with our assessment that our TRS arrangements comply as intended with REIT qualification and taxation rules. If arrangements involving our TRSs fail to comply as we intended, we may fail to qualify for taxation as a REIT under the IRC or be subject to significant penalty taxes.
Legislative or other actions affecting REITs could materially and adversely affect us and our shareholders.
The rules dealing with U.S. federal, state, local and foreign 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 continue to be adversely affected if any of the risks described in this Annual Report on Form 10-K occur, including any negative impact caused
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by current market and economic conditions, such as high interest rates, prolonged high inflation and economic downturns or a possible recession, 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 funds from operations, or FFO, and our normalized funds from operations, or 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 distribution rate as a percentage of the trading price of our common shares, or dividend yield, and our dividend yield compared to the dividend yields of other REITs, 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, in part, pay distributions to our shareholders in a form other than cash, such as issuing additional common shares to our shareholders, as permitted by the applicable tax rules.
The Notes and the Guarantees are structurally subordinated to the payment of all indebtedness and other liabilities of our subsidiaries that do not guarantee the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes.
We are the sole obligor on our 8.625% senior secured notes due 2031, or the 2031 Notes, our outstanding senior unsecured notes, including our 7.50% senior notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes, and our 5.50% senior notes due 2027, or the 2027 Notes, and any notes or other debt securities we may issue in the future, or, together with the 2031 Notes and our outstanding senior unsecured notes, the Notes. Our subsidiaries that guarantee the Notes are the sole obligor on the guarantees of such notes, or the Guarantees. The subsidiaries that guarantee the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes do not currently guarantee any of our other Notes. Our non-guarantor subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities and have no obligation, contingent or otherwise, to pay any amounts due on the Notes or the Guarantees, 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 non-guarantor subsidiaries are subject to the prior satisfaction of claims of those subsidiaries’ creditors. As a result, the Notes and the Guarantees are, and, except to the extent that future Notes are guaranteed by our non-guarantor subsidiaries, will be, structurally subordinated to all indebtedness and other liabilities of our subsidiaries that do not guarantee the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes, including guarantees of or pledges under other indebtedness of ours, payment obligations under lease agreements, trade payables and preferred equity. As of December 31, 2023, our non-guarantor subsidiaries had total indebtedness and other liabilities of approximately $750.4 million (including guarantees of other indebtedness and trade payables, but excluding liabilities to us or a subsidiary guarantor), which are structurally senior to the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes.
The Notes and the Guarantees, other than the 2031 Notes and the Guarantee by the Pledgor (as defined below), are unsecured and effectively subordinated to all of our and the subsidiary guarantors’ existing and future secured debt to the extent of the value of the assets securing such indebtedness.
The outstanding Notes and Guarantees, other than the 2031 Notes and the Guarantee by the Pledgor, or the Unsecured Notes and Guarantees, are not secured and any Notes we may issue in the future may not be secured. Upon any distribution to our creditors in a bankruptcy, liquidation, reorganization or similar proceeding relating to us or our property, the holders of our secured debt, including debt under our credit agreement, the 2031 Notes and our $610.2 million in aggregate principal amount of net lease mortgage notes (to the extent such debt remains outstanding and is still then secured), will be entitled to exercise the remedies available to a secured lender under applicable law and pursuant to the instruments governing such debt and to be paid in full, from the assets securing that secured debt before any payment may be made with respect to the Notes that are not secured by those assets. In that event, because the Unsecured Notes and Guarantees will not be secured by any of our assets, it is possible that there will be no assets from which claims of holders of such unsecured Notes can be satisfied or, if any assets remain, that the remaining assets will be insufficient to satisfy those claims in full. If the value of such remaining assets is less than the aggregate outstanding principal amount of such unsecured Notes and accrued interest and all future debt ranking equally with such Unsecured Notes and Guarantees, we will be unable to fully satisfy our obligations under such unsecured Notes. In addition, if we fail to meet our payment or other obligations under our secured debt, the holders of that secured debt would be entitled to foreclose on our assets securing that secured debt and liquidate those assets. Accordingly, we may not have sufficient funds to pay amounts due on such unsecured Notes. As a result, note holders may lose a portion or the entire value of
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their investment in such unsecured Notes. Further, the terms of the outstanding Unsecured Notes and Guarantees permit, and the terms of any Notes we may issue in the future may permit, us to incur additional secured debt subject to compliance with certain debt ratios. The Unsecured Notes and Guarantees will be effectively subordinated to any such additional secured debt. As of February 22, 2024, our secured debt included our $608.2 million in aggregate principal amount of net lease mortgage notes and $1.0 billion in principal amount of senior secured notes. In addition, although we had no outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility, we have provided certain properties and equity pledges as collateral to secure the facility.
Federal and state statutes allow courts, under specific circumstances, to void guarantees and require holders of notes to return payments received from guarantors.
Under the federal bankruptcy law and comparable provisions of state fraudulent transfer laws, the Guarantees and the related liens, if applicable (or any future Notes that are guaranteed by our subsidiaries), could be voided, or claims in respect of a guarantee and the related lien, if applicable, could be subordinated to all other debts of that guarantor if, among other things, the guarantor, at the time it incurred the debt evidenced by its guarantee and related lien, if applicable:
received less than reasonably equivalent value or fair consideration for the incurrence of such guarantee or granting of such lien, if applicable;
was insolvent or rendered insolvent by reason of such incurrence;
was engaged in a business or transaction for which the guarantor’s remaining assets constituted unreasonably small capital; or
intended to incur, or believed that it would incur, debts beyond its ability to pay such debts as they mature.
In addition, any payment by that guarantor pursuant to its guarantee could be voided and required to be returned to the guarantor, or to a fund for the benefit of our creditors or the creditors of the guarantor.
The measures of insolvency for purposes of these fraudulent transfer laws will vary depending upon the law applied in any proceeding to determine whether a fraudulent transfer has occurred. Generally, however, a guarantor would be considered insolvent if:
the sum of its debts, including contingent liabilities, was greater than the fair saleable value of all of its assets;
the present fair saleable value of its assets was less than the amount that would be required to pay its probable liability on its existing debts, including contingent liabilities, as they become absolute and mature; or
it could not pay its debts as they become due.
We cannot be sure as to what standard a court would apply in making these determinations. In addition, each Guarantee contains, and any future guarantees may contain, a provision intended to limit the guarantor’s liability to the maximum amount that it could incur without causing the incurrence of obligations under its guarantee to be a fraudulent transfer. This provision may not be effective to protect the Guarantees or any future guarantees from being voided under fraudulent transfer laws, or may eliminate the guarantor’s obligations or reduce the guarantor’s obligations to an amount that effectively makes the guarantee worthless.
There is no public market for the Notes, and one may not develop, be maintained or be liquid.
We have not applied for listing 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.
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A downgrade in our credit ratings could materially adversely affect the market price of the Notes and may increase our cost of capital.
The outstanding Notes are rated by two rating agencies and any Notes we may issue in the future may be rated by one or more rating agencies. These credit ratings are continually reviewed by rating agencies and may change at any time based upon, among other things, our results of operations and financial condition. Negative changes in the ratings assigned to our debt securities could have an adverse effect on the market price of the Notes and our cost and availability of capital, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and our ability to satisfy our debt service obligations.
Some or all of the Guarantees may be released automatically.
A subsidiary guarantor may be released from its Guarantee under certain circumstances. Such release may occur at any time upon a sale, disposition or transfer, in compliance with the provisions of the indentures and related supplements governing the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes, of the capital stock of such subsidiary guarantor or of substantially all of the assets of such subsidiary guarantor, or if such subsidiary guarantor becomes an Excluded Subsidiary or a Foreign Subsidiary, as such terms are defined in the applicable indenture or supplemental indenture. In addition, if the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes have a rating equal to or higher than Baa2 (or the equivalent) by Moody’s Investor Services, or Moody’s, and BBB (or the equivalent) by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, or S&P, and at such time no default or event of default under the indenture and related supplements governing the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes has occurred and is continuing, the Guarantees and all other obligations of the subsidiary guarantors under the indenture will automatically terminate and be released. Accordingly, the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes may not at all times be guaranteed by some or all of the subsidiaries which guaranteed the 2025 Notes, the 2027 Notes and the 2031 Notes on the date they were initially issued.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 1C. Cybersecurity
We rely on the information technology and systems maintained by our managers, including RMR, and rely on our managers to identify and manage material risks from cybersecurity threats. RMR and our hotel managers take various actions and incur significant costs, to maintain and protect the operation and security of information technology and systems, including the data maintained in those systems. Our Audit Committee oversees cybersecurity matters, including the material risks related thereto, and regularly receives updates from RMR’s chief information officer regarding the development and advancement of its cybersecurity strategy, as well as the related risks. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, RMR has a detailed incident response plan in place for contacting authorities and informing key stakeholders, including our management. We have not been materially affected and do not believe we are reasonably likely to be materially affected by any risks from cybersecurity threats, including as a result of previous incidents.
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Item 2. Properties
At December 31, 2023, we owned 221 hotels and 752 service-focused retail net lease properties. The following tables summarize certain information about our properties as of December 31, 2023 (dollars in thousands):
HotelsNet LeaseAll Properties
Location of
Properties
Number of
Properties
Undepreciated Carrying ValueDepreciated Carrying ValueNumber of
Properties
Undepreciated Carrying ValueDepreciated Carrying ValueTotal Number of PropertiesTotal Undepreciated Carrying ValueTotal Depreciated Carrying Value
Held and Used:
United States:       
Alabama$30,634 $18,396 32 $108,369 $79,837 35 $139,003 $98,233 
Alaska— — — 3,716 2,347 3,716 2,347 
Arizona14 209,503 117,328 25 182,689 135,687 39 392,192 253,015 
Arkansas— — — 16 85,917 53,711 16 85,917 53,711 
California36 1,047,343 660,117 22 217,686 173,074 58 1,265,029 833,191 
Colorado137,753 98,736 87,748 70,890 13 225,501 169,626 
Connecticut— — — 17,339 9,847 17,339 9,847 
Delaware16,614 12,135 — — — 16,614 12,135 
Florida12 423,028 325,131 46 190,886 148,858 58 613,914 473,989 
Georgia16 387,841 241,117 73 212,367 164,150 89 600,208 405,267 
Hawaii132,945 77,224 — — — 132,945 77,224 
Idaho— — — 16,969 13,163 16,969 13,163 
Illinois10 404,971 282,591 53 228,530 177,202