What Is Implicit Rental Rate?

Implicit rental rates reflect the opportunity costs incurred by a company as a result of using its own assets for ongoing business operations rather than allocating the resources to alternative purposes. Derived by looking at the after-tax costs of all of a firm's capital resources including human (owners and labor), physical, and financial, implicit rental rates incorporate both a depreciation component and the interest the firm could have earned had it chosen to invest its funds instead.

It is different than rental rates, which refers to the amount of money paid to a property owner on a regular basis for the use of that property. Implicit rental rates do have a real estate context, however, when referring to the opportunity cost of renting versus buying a home.

Key Takeaways

  • Implicit rental rate is a company's cost of doing business relative to what it could earn by investing the money in other things.
  • It refers to the concept of economic rent, the cost over and beyond what's required for production.
  • If the implicit rental rate remains lower than the firm's cost of capital for an extended period, it could indicate that the company suffers from poor management.
  • In a real estate context, implicit rental rate refers to the opportunity cost of renting versus buying a house or apartment.

Understanding Implicit Rental Rate

Implicit rental rates can be understood as a category of implicit costs. They should be analyzed in relation to a firm's explicit costs of running the business. Rent, as used here, refers to the concept of economic rent, the cost over and beyond what's required for production.

The implicit rental rate can be either greater than or less than the firm's cost of capital. However, if the implicit rental rate remains lower than the firm's cost of capital for an extended period, the firm is at risk of going out of business. This is because the firm's cost to operate its assets is greater than the firm's best alternative use for those assets. Because a firm's implied, or user, cost of capital in part reflects management decisions made over time, calculating its implicit cost of capital and comparing it to industry peers' can provide insight into financial management decisions and the quality of a company's financial stewardship.

Where Else Do Implied Rental Rates Come Into Play?

Implicit or implied rental rates also come into play in evaluating potential investments in real estate. In this context, prospective buyers can compare the costs of renting (current market rental rates) versus owning a home (e.g., purchase and selling costs, taxes, insurance, maintenance, homeowners' association dues) to determine the relative attractiveness of each in a given housing market.

Implied rental rates are affected by prevailing interest rates, rates for human capital (wages), tax policy regarding income taxes, tax credits, and depreciation methods. Because they are not specified or quantified upfront, implicit rental rates are easy to overlook. However, taking them into account promotes better decision-making because it reveals the full costs of that decision.