How to Read and Understand Your CAM Statements: A Guide for Tenants

Navigating Common Area Maintenance (CAM) statements can be daunting for tenants in commercial real estate. Understanding these statements is essential for tenants to accurately assess their financial obligations and ensure transparency in their lease agreements. In this guide, we will explore the intricacies of CAM statements, and common challenges tenants face, and provide practical insights to empower tenants in deciphering and analyzing CAM charges effectively.

Importance of CAM Statements for Tenants

In commercial real estate leasing, Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges are crucial for tenants, outlining their financial responsibilities for shared area upkeep. These expenses cover various maintenance tasks and utilities, shaping tenants’ budgeting and financial planning. Without a clear understanding of CAM charges, tenants may encounter unexpected costs, disputes with landlords, and challenges in accurately forecasting their operating expenses.  

Real Struggles Faced by Business Owners in Interpreting CAM Statements

Interpreting CAM statements presents formidable challenges for business owners and tenants due to their complexity and varied allocation methods, often resulting in confusion and frustration. Key struggles include:

Deciphering Expense Breakdown: CAM statements encompass diverse categories like repairs, maintenance, insurance, and utilities, making it challenging for tenants to understand their financial obligations.

Allocation Methodology Complexity: The method used to distribute expenses among tenants, whether based on square footage or occupancy, adds another layer of complexity to interpretation.

Discrepancies and Disputes: Disagreements between lease agreements and CAM statements frequently lead to disputes between tenants and landlords, straining relationships and causing costly legal proceedings.


Unraveling CAM Statement Components

CAM statements are essential financial documents for tenants in commercial real estate, outlining their share of expenses for maintaining shared areas within a property. Understanding the components of CAM statements is crucial for tenants to accurately assess their financial obligations and ensure transparency in lease agreements. The three key components of CAM statements:

Breakdown of Common Area Maintenance (CAM) Expenses: 

CAM expenses encompass various categories, including:


  • Routine Maintenance: Such as landscaping, cleaning, and repairs.
  • Utilities: Covering electricity, water, gas, and other essential services.
  • Insurance: Providing coverage for the property and common areas.
  • Security: Costs associated with surveillance and safety measures.

Identifying Pass-Through Costs:

Pass-through costs refer to expenses landlords pass on to tenants as part of their lease agreements. These costs may include:

  • Property Taxes: Calculated based on the tenant’s proportionate share of the property’s assessed value.
  • Insurance Premiums: Distributed among tenants based on their share of leased space.
  • Common Area Utilities: Allocated using various methods such as pro-rata share or direct billing.

Examination of Base Year Calculations: 

Base year calculations establish the benchmark for CAM expense reimbursements, typically the first year of the lease term. Tenants are responsible for any increases in expenses above the base year amount, subject to certain adjustments, including:

  • Escalation Clauses: Allowing for annual increases in CAM expenses.
  • Tenant Improvement Allowances: Impacting lease commencement and subsequent base year calculations.

Analyzing Lease Terms and Obligations

Lease agreements are paramount for tenants in commercial real estate, especially concerning their obligations and responsibilities related to Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges.

Reviewing Lease Agreements:

Lease agreements outline tenants’ obligations regarding CAM charges, including:

  • Explicitly defining CAM expenses covered under the lease.
  • Specifying the methodology for calculating and allocating CAM charges.
  • Stipulating the frequency and timing of CAM payments.

Evaluation of CAM Audit Rights: 

Tenants should be aware of their rights to audit CAM charges to ensure accuracy and compliance with lease agreements. Key considerations include:

  • Provisions for conducting CAM audits, including frequency and procedures.
  • Resolution mechanisms for disputes arising from audit findings.
  • Legal implications and potential remedies for discrepancies identified during audits.

Uncovering Hidden Costs: 

Lease agreements may contain clauses specifying expenses that tenants are not obligated to reimburse, such as:

  • Capital expenditures for property improvements or upgrades.
  • Landlord’s administrative or management fees are unrelated to property maintenance.
  • Expenses incurred for the landlord’s sole benefit, not benefiting tenants directly.

Strategies for CAM Statement Analysis

Analyzing CAM statements is a critical aspect of commercial real estate management, allowing tenants to effectively assess and manage their financial obligations. The three key strategies for CAM statement analysis are:

Utilizing Financial Ratios: Assessing CAM Expenses Relative to Property Income and Rent

Financial ratios provide valuable insights into the relationship between CAM expenses, property income, and rent. Key ratios to consider include:

  • CAM Expense Ratio: Calculated by dividing total CAM expenses by property income, providing a measure of the proportion of income allocated to CAM.
  • CAM-to-Rent Ratio: Comparing CAM expenses to total rent collected, indicating the impact of CAM charges on rental revenue.

Benchmarking CAM Expenses: Comparing Costs Against Industry Standards and Market Averages

Benchmarking CAM expenses against industry standards and market averages allows tenants to assess the competitiveness of their lease agreements. Key benchmarks to consider include:

  • Industry benchmarks: Utilizing data from industry associations and research firms to compare CAM expenses across similar properties.
  • Market averages: Analyzing CAM expenses for comparable properties in the local market to identify outliers and opportunities for negotiation.

Implementing Cost Containment Strategies: Negotiating CAM Caps and Expense Controls

To mitigate the impact of CAM expenses, tenants can implement cost containment strategies such as:

  • Negotiating CAM caps: Establishing maximum limits on annual CAM expense increases to provide predictability and budget certainty.
  • Implementing expense controls: Collaborating with landlords to identify cost-saving opportunities and implement efficiency measures to reduce CAM expenses.

Addressing Discrepancies and Disputes

Discrepancies and disputes in Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges can disrupt tenant-landlord relationships and pose financial challenges for tenants in commercial real estate. Here, we explore three strategies for addressing discrepancies and disputes:

Conducting CAM Audits: 

CAM audits are crucial for tenants to ensure the accuracy of CAM charges and validate expenses. Key steps in conducting CAM audit services include:


  • Reviewing CAM statements and supporting documentation to identify discrepancies and errors.
  • Engaging independent auditors or accounting professionals to perform detailed examinations of CAM expenses.
  • Communicating findings to landlords and negotiating adjustments to rectify inaccuracies and ensure compliance with lease agreements.

Communicating with Landlords:

Open communication with landlords is essential for resolving discrepancies and seeking clarifications regarding CAM charges. Effective communication strategies include:

  • Documenting discrepancies and concerns in writing, providing clear evidence and supporting documentation.
  • Scheduling meetings or calls with landlords to discuss issues and negotiate resolutions collaboratively.
  • Seeking transparency and cooperation from landlords in addressing concerns and implementing corrective actions.

Legal Considerations:

In cases where disputes cannot be resolved amicably, tenants should be aware of their legal rights and remedies. Legal considerations include:

  • Reviewing lease agreements to understand dispute resolution mechanisms, including arbitration and mediation clauses.
  • Consulting legal counsel to assess the merits of potential legal claims and pursue remedies through litigation if necessary.
  • Adhering to statutory deadlines and procedural requirements for filing claims and pursuing legal action.


Empowering tenants to take control of CAM statement interpretation and management is crucial in commercial real estate. By understanding CAM charges and leveraging available resources, tenants can assert their rights and mitigate disputes effectively.

Ready to take control of your CAM statement analysis? Visit Springbord for expert insights and solutions to optimize your commercial real estate leasing experience.

With a proactive and informed approach, tenants can ensure transparency, accuracy, and fairness in CAM expense management, fostering mutually beneficial tenant-landlord relationships and sustainable business success.