What Are Carve-Out Guarantees for Commercial Mortgages?

Carve-out guarantees are specific provisions included in commercial mortgage agreements that hold the guarantor personally liable for certain “bad boy” actions that could harm the lender. Designed to protect the lender, these guarantees are not blanket personal guarantees, but rather they ‘carve out’ specific situations where the guarantor will be held responsible.

Understanding carve-out guarantees is crucial for anyone involved in commercial real estate transactions, as they delineate the circumstances under which personal liability may be triggered. This article will delve into the intricacies of these guarantees, providing a comprehensive understanding of their role and implications in commercial mortgages.

What are Carve-Out Guarantees? 

In a commercial mortgage, a carve-out guarantee is a provision that allows lenders to hold borrowers, often the business owners or principals, personally liable for certain “bad acts” or specific default scenarios, even if the loan was initially made to a limited liability company (LLC) or other entity designed to protect the borrower’s personal assets. These guarantees are also sometimes referred to as “bad boy” or “springing” guarantees. 

Commercial mortgages are typically non-recourse loans, meaning that the borrower’s liability is limited to the property securing the loan. However, lenders often include carve-out guarantees in loan agreements to protect themselves from losses due to the borrower’s misconduct or mismanagement of the property. 

Common Carve-Out Guarantee Scenarios 

Carve-out guarantees can be triggered by a variety of events, including: 

  1. Fraud or misrepresentation: If the borrower intentionally provides false or misleading information to the lender, the carve-out guarantee may be triggered.
  2. Waste or damage to the property: If the borrower fails to maintain the property or allows it to fall into disrepair, the lender may invoke the carve-out guarantee to recover damages.
  3. Unauthorized transfers or liens: If the borrower sells, transfers, or encumbers the property without the lender’s consent, the carve-out guarantee can be enforced.
  4. Bankruptcy or insolvency: The carve-out guarantee may be triggered if the borrower files for bankruptcy or becomes insolvent.
  5. Failure to pay taxes or insurance premiums: The borrower’s failure to pay property taxes or maintain adequate insurance coverage can result in the enforcement of the carve-out guarantee.

Why are Carve-Out Guarantees Important? 

They serve several purposes in commercial mortgage transactions: 

  1. They protect the lender by providing recourse in case of borrower misconduct or mismanagement of the property, which may not be covered by the property’s collateral value.
  2. They help to ensure that borrowers act responsibly and manage their properties well, knowing that they may be held personally liable for certain actions.
  3. They act as a deterrent against borrowers attempting to shield themselves from liability by transferring assets or engaging in fraudulent activity.

Looking to further explore financing options? Don’t miss our detailed comparison of recourse and non-recourse financing. Check it out here.

Impact on Borrowers and Lenders 

For borrowers, the existence of a carve-out guarantee can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can help secure favorable loan terms by providing additional assurance to the lender. On the other hand, it exposes the borrower’s personal assets to potential liability if the carve-out guarantee is triggered. 

For lenders, carve-out guarantees offer an extra layer of protection against losses and encourage borrowers to act responsibly. However, enforcing a carve-out guarantee can be a complex and time-consuming process that may not always result in the recovery of the full amount owed. 

Interested in alternatives to traditional commercial mortgages? Our piece on leveraging community bank loans for commercial real estate is a must-read. Dive in here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does a carve-out provision entail in a commercial mortgage agreement?

A carve-out provision is a clause in a commercial mortgage agreement that stipulates specific scenarios where a guarantor can be held personally liable. These are not blanket guarantees, but are triggered only in certain “bad boy” actions that can harm the lender.

What are some examples of “bad boy” actions that can trigger these provisions?

“Bad boy” actions can vary but they often include fraud, misrepresentation, bankruptcy filings, environmental indemnities, and unauthorized transfer of property. It’s important to review any mortgage agreement carefully to understand the specifics.

How do these provisions affect the parties involved in a commercial mortgage?

Carve-out provisions primarily protect the lender, ensuring they have recourse in the event of specific damaging actions by the borrower. For the borrower, these provisions delineate the circumstances under which they could be held personally liable, which could have significant financial implications.

Are these provisions standard in all commercial mortgage agreements?

While they are common, it’s not a given that every commercial mortgage agreement will include these provisions. The specifics of any loan agreement can vary based on negotiation, the financial standing of the parties involved, and the specific type of property or business.

Can these provisions be negotiated?

Yes, the specifics of these provisions, like most aspects of a commercial mortgage agreement, can often be negotiated. However, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the potential implications and to seek legal advice before agreeing to such terms.


Carve-out guarantees are a critical aspect of commercial mortgage transactions, offering lenders additional protection against borrower misconduct and mismanagement. While they can expose borrowers to personal liability, they also serve as a deterrent against irresponsible behavior and fraud. Understanding carve-out guarantees and their implications is essential for both borrowers and lenders navigating the complex world of commercial real estate financing. 



May 21, 2023