Internal rents and corporate property management: a study into the use of internal rents in UK corporate organisations
Cock, R. and French, N., (2001) Internal rents and corporate property management: a study into the use of internal rents in UK corporate organisations. Working Papers in Land Management and Development. 08/01. Working Paper. University of Reading, Reading. pp18.
Research in the late 1980s showed that in many corporate real estates users were not fully aware of the full extent of their property holdings. In many cases, not only was the value of the holdings unknown, but there was uncertainty over the actual extent of ownership within the portfolio. This resulted in a large number of corporate occupiers reviewing their property holdings during the 1990s, initially to create a definitive asset register, but also to benefit from an more efficient use of space. Good management of corporately owned property assets is of equal importance as the management of other principal resources within the company. A comprehensive asset register can be seen as the first step towards a rational property audit. For the effective, efficient and economic delivery of services, it is vital that all property holdings are utilised to the best advantage. This requires that the property provider and the property user are both fully conversant with the value of the property holding and that an asset/internal rent/charge is made accordingly. The advantages of internal rent charging are twofold. Firstly, it requires the occupying department to “contribute” an amount to the business equivalent to the open market rental value of the space that it occupies. This prevents the treating of space as a free good and, as individual profit centres, each department will then rationalise its holdings to minimise its costs. The second advantage is from a strategic viewpoint. By charging an asset rent, the holding department can identify the performance of its real estate holdings. This can then be compared to an internal or external benchmark to help determine whether the company has adopted the most efficient tenure pattern for its properties. This paper investigates the use of internal rents by UK-based corporate businesses and explains internal rents as a form of transfer pricing in the context of management and responsibility accounting. The research finds that the majority of charging organisations introduced internal rents primarily to help calculate true profits at the business unit level. However, less than 10% of the charging organisations introduced internal rents primarily to capture the return on assets within the business. There was also a sizeable element of the market who had no plans to introduce internal rents. Here, it appears that, despite academic and professional views that internal rents are beneficial in improving the efficient use of property, opinion at the business and operational level has not universally accepted this proposition.