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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Form 10-K
 (Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____
Commission file number 001-36181
CareTrust REIT, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Maryland46-3999490
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 300, San Clemente, CA 92673
(Address of principal executive offices, including zip code)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (949) 542-3130
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per shareCTREThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(Nasdaq Global Select Market)
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.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined by Rule 12b-2 of the Act.) Yes    No 
State the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold, or the average bid and asked price of such common equity, as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter: $1.6 billion.
As of February 9, 2021, there were 95,893,541 shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE


Table of Contents
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement for the registrant’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of fiscal year 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Report.



Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
PART I
Item 1.Business
Item 1A.Risk Factors
Item 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2.Properties
Item 3.Legal Proceedings
Item 4.Mine Safety Disclosures
PART II
Item 5.Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity
Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7.Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A.Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8.Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosures
Item 9A.Controls and Procedures
Item 9B.Other Information
PART III
Item 10.Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11.Executive Compensation
Item 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14.Principal Accountant Fees and Services
PART IV
Item 15.Exhibits, Financial Statements and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16.10-K Summary
Signatures



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STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain statements in this report may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Those forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical statements of fact and those regarding our intent, belief or expectations, including, but not limited to, statements regarding: future financing plans, business strategies, growth prospects and operating and financial performance; expectations regarding the making of distributions and the payment of dividends; and compliance with and changes in governmental regulations.
Words such as “anticipate(s),” “expect(s),” “intend(s),” “plan(s),” “believe(s),” “may,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “seek(s)” and similar expressions, or the negative of these terms, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could lead to actual results differing materially from those projected, forecasted or expected. Although we believe that the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that our expectations will be attained. Factors which could have a material adverse effect on our operations and future prospects or which could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations include, but are not limited to: (i) the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to prevent its spread and the related impact on our business or the businesses of our tenants; (ii) the ability and willingness of our tenants to meet and/or perform their obligations under the triple-net leases we have entered into with them, including without limitation, their respective obligations to indemnify, defend and hold us harmless from and against various claims, litigation and liabilities; (iii) the ability of our tenants to comply with applicable laws, rules and regulations in the operation of the properties we lease to them; (iv) the ability and willingness of our tenants to renew their leases with us upon their expiration, and the ability to reposition our properties on the same or better terms in the event of nonrenewal or in the event we replace an existing tenant, as well as any obligations, including indemnification obligations, we may incur in connection with the replacement of an existing tenant; (v) the availability of and the ability to identify (a) tenants who meet our credit and operating standards, and (b) suitable acquisition opportunities and the ability to acquire and lease the respective properties to such tenants on favorable terms; (vi) the ability to generate sufficient cash flows to service our outstanding indebtedness; (vii) access to debt and equity capital markets; (viii) fluctuating interest rates; (ix) the ability to retain our key management personnel; (x) the ability to maintain our status as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”); (xi) changes in the U.S. tax law and other state, federal or local laws, whether or not specific to REITs; (xii) other risks inherent in the real estate business, including potential liability relating to environmental matters and illiquidity of real estate investments; and (xiii) any additional factors included in this report, including in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in Item 1A of this Annual Report, as such risk factors may be amended, supplemented or superseded from time to time by other reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including subsequent Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this report. Except in the normal course of our public disclosure obligations, we expressly disclaim any obligation to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in our expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based.
TENANT INFORMATION
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes information regarding certain of our tenants that lease properties from us, some of which are not subject to SEC reporting requirements. The Ensign Group, Inc. (“Ensign”) and The Pennant Group, Inc. (“Pennant”) are subject to the reporting requirements of the SEC and are required to file with the SEC annual reports containing audited financial information and quarterly reports containing unaudited financial information. You are encouraged to review Ensign and Pennant’s publicly available filings, which can be found at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
The information related to our tenants contained or referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K was provided to us by such tenants or derived from SEC filings or other publicly available information. We have not verified this information through an independent investigation or otherwise. We have no reason to believe that this information is inaccurate in any material respect, but we cannot provide any assurance of its accuracy. We are providing this data for informational purposes only.

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PART I
All references in this report to “CareTrust REIT,” the “Company,” “we,” “us” or “our” mean CareTrust REIT, Inc. together with its consolidated subsidiaries. Unless the context suggests otherwise, references to “CareTrust REIT, Inc.” mean the parent company without its subsidiaries.
ITEM  1.    Business
Our Company
CareTrust REIT is a self-administered, publicly-traded REIT engaged in the ownership, acquisition, development and leasing of skilled nursing, seniors housing and other healthcare-related properties. As of December 31, 2020, CareTrust REIT’s real estate portfolio consisted of 218 skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”), multi-service campuses and assisted living facilities (“ALFs”) consisting of 22,466 operational beds and units located in 28 states with the highest concentration of properties by rental income located in California, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho and Arizona. As of December 31, 2020, we also had other real estate investments consisting of one mezzanine loan receivable with a carrying value of $15.0 million.
From January 1, 2020 through February 10, 2021, we acquired six skilled nursing facilities, one multi-service campus and one assisted living facility for approximately $89.8 million, which includes capitalized acquisition costs. These acquisitions are expected to generate initial annual cash revenues of approximately $7.6 million and an initial blended yield of approximately 8.5%. We also made one mezzanine loan with a carrying value of $15.0 million with a fixed interest rate of 12.0%.
We generate revenues primarily by leasing healthcare-related properties to healthcare operators in triple-net lease arrangements, under which the tenant is solely responsible for the costs related to the property (including property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repair costs and capital expenditures, subject to certain exceptions in the case of properties leased to Ensign). From time to time, we also extend secured mortgage loans to healthcare operators, secured by healthcare-related properties and secured mezzanine loans to healthcare operators, secured by membership interests in healthcare-related properties. We conduct and manage our business as one operating segment for internal reporting and internal decision making purposes. We expect to grow our portfolio by pursuing opportunities to acquire additional properties that will be leased to a diverse group of local, regional and national healthcare providers, which may include other skilled nursing operators, as well as seniors housing operators and related businesses. We also anticipate diversifying our portfolio over time, including by acquiring properties in different geographic markets, and in different asset classes. In addition, we actively monitor the clinical, regulatory and financial operating results of our tenants, and work to identify opportunities within their operations and markets that could improve their operating results at our facilities. We communicate such observations to our tenants; however, we have no contractual obligation to do so. Moreover, our tenants have sole discretion with respect to the day-to-day operation of the facilities they lease from us, and how and whether to implement any observation we may share with them. We also actively monitor the overall occupancy, skilled mix, and other operating metrics of our tenants on at least a monthly basis including, beginning in the quarter ended June 30, 2020, any stimulus funds received by each tenant. We have replaced tenants in the past, and may elect to replace tenants in the future, if they fail to meet the terms and conditions of their leases with us. The replacement tenants may include tenants with whom we have had no prior landlord-tenant relationship as well as current tenants with whom we are comfortable expanding our relationships. We have also provided select tenants with strategic capital for facility upkeep and modernization, as well as short-term working capital loans when they are awaiting licensure and certification or conducting turnaround work in one or more of our properties, and we may continue to do so in the future. In addition, we periodically reassess the investments we have made and the tenant relationships we have entered into, and have selectively disposed of facilities or investments, or terminated such relationships, and we expect to continue making such reassessments and, where appropriate, taking such actions.
We elected to be taxed as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes beginning with our taxable year ended December 31, 2014. We believe that we have been organized and have operated, and we intend to continue to operate, in a manner to qualify for taxation as a REIT. We operate through an umbrella partnership, commonly referred to as an UPREIT structure, in which substantially all of our properties and assets are held through CTR Partnership, L.P. (the “Operating Partnership”). The Operating Partnership is managed by CareTrust REIT’s wholly owned subsidiary, CareTrust GP, LLC, which is the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership. To maintain REIT status, we must meet a number of organizational and operational requirements, including a requirement that we annually distribute to our stockholders at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction and excluding any net capital gains.
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Our Industry
The skilled nursing industry has evolved to meet the growing demand for post-acute and custodial healthcare services generated by an aging population, increasing life expectancies and the trend toward shifting of patient care to lower cost settings. We believe this evolution has led to a number of favorable improvements in the industry, as described below:
Shift of Patient Care to Lower Cost Alternatives.  The growth of the senior population in the United States continues to increase healthcare costs. In response, federal and state governments have adopted cost-containment measures that encourage the treatment of patients in more cost-effective settings such as SNFs, for which the staffing requirements and associated costs are often significantly lower than acute care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and other post-acute care settings. As a result, SNFs are generally serving a larger population of higher-acuity patients than in the past. The same trend is impacting ALFs, which are now generally serving some patients who previously would have received services at SNFs.
Significant Acquisition and Consolidation Opportunities. The skilled nursing industry is large and highly fragmented, characterized predominantly by numerous local and regional providers. We believe this fragmentation provides significant acquisition and consolidation opportunities for us.
Widening Supply and Demand Imbalance. The number of SNFs has declined modestly over the past several years. According to the American Health Care Association, the nursing home industry was comprised of approximately 15,700 facilities as of December 2016, as compared with over 16,700 facilities as of December 2000. We expect that the supply/demand imbalance in the skilled nursing industry will increasingly favor skilled nursing and assisted living providers due to the shift of patient care to lower cost settings, an aging population and increasing life expectancies.
Increased Demand Driven by Aging Populations and Increased Life Expectancy. As life expectancy continues to increase in the United States and seniors account for a higher percentage of the total U.S. population, we believe the overall demand for skilled nursing services will increase. At present, the primary market demographic for skilled nursing services is individuals age 75 and older. The U.S. Census reported that there were over 54 million people in the United States in 2019 over the age of 65. The U.S. Census estimates this group to be one of the fastest growing segments of the United States population, projecting that it will almost double between 2016 and 2060. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, nursing home care facilities and continuing care retirement expenditures are projected to grow from approximately $169 billion in 2018 to approximately $266 billion in 2028, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 5.0%. We believe that these trends will support an increasing demand for skilled nursing services, which in turn will likely support an increasing demand for the services provided within our properties.
Portfolio Summary
We have a geographically diverse portfolio of properties, consisting of the following types as of December 31, 2020:
Skilled Nursing Facilities. SNFs are licensed healthcare facilities that provide restorative, rehabilitative and nursing care for people not requiring the more extensive and sophisticated treatment available at acute care hospitals. Treatment programs include physical, occupational, speech, respiratory and other therapies, including sub-acute clinical protocols such as wound care and intravenous drug treatment. Charges for these services are generally paid from a combination of government reimbursement and private sources. As of December 31, 2020, our portfolio included 177 SNFs, 20 of which are located on campuses that also have assisted or independent living facilities, which we refer to as multi-service campuses (see below under “Multi-Service Campuses”).
Assisted Living Facilities. ALFs are licensed healthcare facilities that provide personal care services, support and housing for those who need help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and dressing, yet require limited medical care. The programs and services may include transportation, social activities, exercise and fitness programs, beauty or barber shop access, hobby and craft activities, community excursions, meals in a dining room setting and other activities sought by residents. These facilities are often apartment-like buildings with private residences ranging from single rooms to large apartments. Certain ALFs may offer higher levels of personal assistance for residents requiring memory care as a result of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The level of personal assistance that may be provided at ALFs is based in part on state regulations. Since states often apply differing license classifications, and standards, regulatory requirements may differ significantly between states. As of December 31, 2020, our portfolio included 39 ALFs, some of which also contain independent living and memory care units.
Independent Living Facilities. ILFs, also known as retirement communities or senior apartments, are not healthcare facilities and are not licensed to provide healthcare services to residents. The facilities typically consist of entirely
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self contained apartments, complete with their own kitchens, baths and individual living spaces, as well as parking for tenant vehicles. They are most often rented unfurnished, and generally can be personalized by the tenants, typically an individual or a couple over the age of 55. These facilities offer various services and amenities such as laundry, housekeeping, dining options/meal plans, exercise and wellness programs, transportation, social, cultural and recreational activities, on site security and emergency response programs. As of December 31, 2020, our portfolio included 2 ILFs.
Multi-Service Campuses. Multi-service campuses generally include some combination of co-located SNFs, ALFs, ILFs, and/or memory care units all housed at a single location and operated as a continuum of care. These facilities are often marketed as an opportunity for residents to “age in place,” and tend to attract couples where the individuals may require or benefit from differing levels of care. As of December 31, 2020, our portfolio included 20 facilities that we classify as multi-service campuses.
Our portfolio of SNFs, ALFs, ILFs and multi-service campuses is broadly diversified by geographic location throughout the United States, with concentrations in California, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho and Arizona based on rental income.
Significant Master Leases
We have leased a significant number of our properties to subsidiaries of Ensign on a triple-net basis under eight long-term leases each with its own pool of properties, that have varying maturities and diversity in both property type and geography (each an “Ensign Master Lease” and collectively, the “Ensign Master Leases”). The Ensign Master Leases provide for initial terms in excess of ten years with staggered expiration dates and no purchase options. At Ensign’s option, each Ensign Master Lease may be extended for up to three five year renewal terms beyond the initial term and, if elected, the renewal will be effective for all of the leased property then subject to the applicable Ensign Master Lease. During the year ended December 31, 2020, the Company acquired four additional facilities leased to subsidiaries of Ensign on a triple-net basis which are not included under the Ensign Master Leases. As of December 31, 2020, the annualized contractual rental income from the Ensign Master Leases was $53.4 million, or 31%, and annualized contractual rental income from all Ensign leases was $57.2 million, or 33.0%, of total annualized contractual rental income. Rent is escalated annually in June under the Ensign Master Leases, and in December for the four additional facilities leased to Ensign, by an amount equal to the product of (1) the lesser of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) (but not less than zero) or 2.5%, and (2) the prior year’s rent. The Ensign Master Leases are guaranteed by Ensign and contain cross-default provisions. The four additional facilities leased to subsidiaries of Ensign are guaranteed by Ensign but do not contain cross-default provisions with the Ensign Master Leases.
On October 1, 2019, Ensign completed its previously announced separation of its home health and hospice operations and substantially all of its senior living operations into a separate independent publicly traded company through the distribution of shares of Pennant common stock (the “Pennant Spin”). As a result of the Pennant Spin, on October 1, 2019, the Company amended the Ensign Master Leases to reduce the number of facilities covered by the Ensign Master Leases and entered into one long-term triple-net lease (the “Pennant Master Lease”) to lease those facilities to Pennant. The contractual initial annual cash rent under the Pennant Master Lease was approximately $7.8 million. The Pennant Master Lease carries an initial term of 15 years, with two five-year renewal options and CPI-based rent escalators. The contractual annual cash rent under the amended Ensign Master Leases was reduced by approximately $7.8 million. Ensign has guaranteed the Pennant Master Lease. If Pennant achieves a specified portfolio coverage ratio and continuously maintains it for a specified period, Ensign’s obligations under the guaranty with respect to the Pennant facilities would be released. As of December 31, 2020, the Company leased 89 facilities to subsidiaries of Ensign, which have a total of 9,546 operational beds and 11 facilities to Pennant, which have a total of 1,193 operational beds and Ensign and Pennant represented 33% and 5%, respectively, of the Company’s contractual rental income, exclusive of operating expense reimbursements, on an annualized run-rate basis.
As of December 31, 2020, 15 of our properties were leased to subsidiaries of Priority Management Group (“PMG”) on a triple-net basis under one long-term lease (the “PMG Master Lease”), and have a total of 2,145 operational beds. The PMG Master Lease commenced on December 1, 2016, and provides an initial term of fifteen years, with two five-year renewal options. As of December 31, 2020, PMG represented 16% of the Company’s contractual rental income, exclusive of operating expense reimbursements, on an annualized run-rate basis.
The Ensign Master Leases account for a substantial portion of our revenues, and Ensign’s financial condition and ability and willingness to (i) satisfy its obligations under the Ensign Master Leases, (ii) renew the Ensign Master Leases upon expiration of the initial base terms thereof, and (iii) satisfy its guaranty obligations under the Pennant Master Lease, significantly impacts our revenues and our ability to service our indebtedness and to make distributions to our stockholders. There can be no assurance that Ensign has sufficient assets, income and access to financing to enable it to satisfy its obligations under the Ensign Master Leases or its guaranty of the Pennant Master Lease, and any inability or unwillingness on its part to do so would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity, on our ability to service our indebtedness and other obligations and on our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders, as required for us to qualify, and maintain our status, as a REIT. We also cannot assure you that Ensign will elect to renew the Ensign Master Leases
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with us upon expiration of the initial base terms or any renewal terms thereof or, if such leases are not renewed, that we can reposition the affected properties on the same or better terms. See “Risk Factors - Risks Related to Our Business - We are dependent on the healthcare operators that lease our properties to successfully operate their business and make contractual lease payments, and an event that materially and adversely affects their business, financial position or results of operations could materially and adversely affect our business, financial position or results of operations.”
We monitor the creditworthiness of our tenants by evaluating the ability of the tenants to meet their lease obligations to us based on the tenants’ financial performance, including the evaluation of any guarantees of tenant lease obligations. The primary basis for our evaluation of the credit quality of our tenants (and more specifically the tenants’ ability to pay their rent obligations to us) is the tenants’ lease coverage ratios. These coverage ratios compare (i) earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization and rent (“EBITDAR”) to rent coverage, and (ii) earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation, amortization, rent and management fees (“EBITDARM”), to rent coverage. We utilize a standardized 5% management fee when we calculate lease coverage ratios. We obtain various financial and operational information from our tenants each month. We regularly review this information to calculate the above-described coverage metrics, to identify operational trends, to assess the operational and financial impact of the changes in the broader industry environment (including the potential impact of government reimbursement and regulatory changes), and to evaluate the management and performance of the tenant’s operations. These metrics help us identify potential areas of concern relative to our tenants’ credit quality and ultimately the tenants’ ability to generate sufficient liquidity to meet their ongoing obligations, including their obligations to continue paying contractual rents due to us and satisfying other financial obligations to third parties, as prescribed by our triple-net leases.
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Properties by Type:
The following table displays the geographic distribution of our facilities by property type and the related number of beds and units available for occupancy by asset class, as of December 31, 2020. The number of beds or units that are operational may be less than the official licensed capacity.
 TotalSNFsMulti-Service Campuses
ALFs and ILFs
StateProperties
Beds/Units
Facilities
Beds
Campuses
Beds/Units
Facilities
Beds/Units
TX 41 5,207 35 4,426 539 242 
CA 34 3,965 25 2,806 710 449 
ID 17 1,457 16 1,388 69 — — 
IA 15 984 13 815 169 — — 
OH 13 1,284 734 550 — — 
UT13 1,392 913 330 149 
WA 12 1,082 11 980 — — 102 
AZ 11 1,352 986 — — 366 
IL 772 644 128 — — 
LA 1,164 949 215 — — 
CO 785 522 — — 263 
NE 366 220 146 — — 
VA 279 — — — — 279 
FL 404 — — — — 404 
MI189 — — — — 189 
MT260 260 — — — — 
NV 304 92 — — 212 
WI 206 — — — — 206 
MN62 — — — — 62 
NC100 — — — — 100 
GA105 105 — — — — 
IN162 — — — — 162 
MD120 — — — — 120 
ND110 110 — — — — 
NM136 136 — — — — 
OR53 53 — — — — 
SD99 99 — — — — 
WV67 — — 67 — — 
Total218 22,466 157 16,238 20 2,923 41 3,305 
 
        















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Occupancy by Property Type:
The following table displays occupancy by property type for each of the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. Percentage occupancy in the below table is computed by dividing the average daily number of beds occupied by the total number of beds available for use during the periods indicated (beds of acquired facilities are included in the computation following the date of acquisition only).
 Year Ended December 31,
Property Type20202019
Facilities Leased to Tenants: (1)
  
     SNFs75 %78 %
     Multi-Service Campuses73 %76 %
     ALFs and ILFs86 %83 %
Facilities Operated by CareTrust REIT:(2)
     ILFs91 %89 %
 
(1)    Occupancy data derived solely from information provided by our tenants without independent verification by us. The leased facility financial performance data is presented one quarter in arrears.
(2)    As of December 31, 2019, we owned and operated one ILF. Occupancy data for the year ended December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019 includes the one ILF owned and operated. We sold the one remaining ILF during the three months ended December 31, 2020.
 
Property Type - Rental Income:
The following tables display the annual rental income and total beds/units for each property type leased to third-party tenants for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019.
 For the Year Ended December 31, 2020
Property TypeRental Income
(in thousands)
Percent
of Total 
Total Beds/
Units 
SNFs$127,200 73 %16,238 
Multi-Service Campuses21,517 13 %2,923 
ALFs and ILFs24,895 14 %3,305 
Total$173,612 100 %22,466 

 For the Year Ended December 31, 2019
Property TypeRental Income
(in thousands)
Percent
of Total 
Total Beds/
Units 
SNFs$115,362 74 %16,262 
Multi-Service Campuses18,109 12 %2,460 
ALFs and ILFs22,196 14 %3,241 
Total$155,667 100 %21,963 







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Geographic Concentration - Rental Income:
The following table displays the geographic distribution of annual rental income for properties leased to third-party tenants for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (in thousands, except percentages).
 For the Year Ended December 31, 2020For the Year Ended December 31, 2019
State 
Rental Income
Percent of Total 
Rental Income
Percent of Total 
CA$36,853 21 %$35,297 23 %
TX33,276 19 %32,364 21 %
LA16,022 %15,880 10 %
ID13,482 %11,717 %
AZ12,466 %12,461 %
OH9,225 %964 %
UT7,289 %6,740 %
MI5,729 %6,007 %
CO5,561 %5,485 %
WA5,201 %5,145 %
IL4,824 %4,725 %
IA4,672 %2,815 %
VA3,248 %3,171 %
WI2,937 %2,535 %
NV2,092 %2,091 %
FL1,572 %550 — %
NC1,107 %1,097 %
MT1,079 %550 — %
NM1,008 %987 %
NE956 %956 %
SD905 %886 %
IN829 %760 — %
GA810 — %485 — %
WV714 — %384 — %
MD567 — %229 — %
ND442 — %433 — %
OR380 — %376 — %
MN366 — %577 — %
Total$173,612 100 %$155,667 100 %

ILFs Operated by CareTrust REIT:
As of December 31, 2019, we owned and operated one ILF, Lakeland Hills Independent Living, located in Dallas, Texas, with 168 units. During the quarter ended December 31, 2020, we sold the one remaining ILF to a third party leaving us with no remaining owned and operated ILFs at December 31, 2020.
Investment and Financing Policies
Our investment objectives are to increase cash flow, provide quarterly cash dividends, maximize the value of our properties and acquire properties with cash flow growth potential. We intend to invest primarily in SNFs and seniors housing, including ALFs and ILFs, although we may determine in the future to expand our investments to include medical office buildings, long-term acute care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Our properties are located in 28 states and we intend to continue to acquire properties in other states throughout the United States. Although our portfolio currently consists primarily of owned real property, future investments may include first mortgages, mezzanine debt and other securities issued by, or joint ventures with, REITs or other entities that own real estate consistent with our investment objectives.
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Our Competitive Strengths
We believe that our ability to acquire, integrate and improve facilities is a direct result of the following key competitive strengths:
Geographically Diverse Property Portfolio. Our properties are located in 28 different states, with concentrations in California, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho and Arizona based on rental income. The properties in any one state do not account for more than 21% of our total rental income as of December 31, 2020. We believe this geographic diversification will limit the effect of changes in any one market on our overall performance.
Long-Term, Triple-Net Lease Structure. All of our properties are leased to our tenants under long-term, triple-net leases, pursuant to which the operators are responsible for all facility maintenance and repair, insurance required in connection with the leased properties and the business conducted on the leased properties, taxes levied on or with respect to the leased properties and all utilities and other services necessary or appropriate for the leased properties and the business conducted on the leased properties.
Financially Secure Primary Tenant. Ensign is an established provider of healthcare services with strong financial performance and accounted for 32% of our 2020 rental income, exclusive of operating expense reimbursements. Ensign is subject to the reporting requirements of the SEC and is required to file with the SEC annual reports containing audited financial information and quarterly reports containing unaudited financial information. Ensign’s publicly available filings can be found at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Ability to Identify Talented Operators. We have purchased 138 properties since June 1, 2014, the date we became a separate and independent publicly-traded company, through December 31, 2020 and have increased total rental income from $41.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, the last full fiscal year prior to becoming a separate and independent publicly-traded company, to $173.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. We have grown to 22 operators including local, regional and national operators, including Ensign and PMG, which account for 32% and 16% of our total rental income, in each case exclusive of operating expense reimbursements, for the year ended December 31, 2020, respectively. As a result of our management team’s operating experience and network of relationships and insight, we believe that we are able to identify and pursue working relationships with qualified local, regional and national healthcare providers and seniors housing operators. We expect to continue our disciplined focus on pursuing investment opportunities, primarily with respect to stabilized assets but also some strategic investment in new and/or improving properties, while seeking dedicated and engaged operators who possess local market knowledge, have solid operating records and emphasize quality services and outcomes. We intend to support these operators by providing strategic capital for facility acquisition, upkeep and modernization. Our management team’s experience gives us a key competitive advantage in objectively evaluating an operator’s financial position, care and service programs, operating efficiencies and likely business prospects.
Experienced Management Team. Gregory K. Stapley, our Chief Executive Officer, has extensive experience in the real estate and healthcare industries. Mr. Stapley has more than 30 years of experience in the acquisition, development, financing and disposition of real estate including healthcare facilities and office, retail and industrial properties, including nearly 15 years at Ensign where he was a co-founder, and was instrumental in assembling the portfolio that we now lease back to Ensign and Pennant. David M. Sedgwick, our President and Chief Operating Officer, has more than 20 years of experience in the skilled nursing and seniors housing industry. Mr. Sedgwick served as our Vice President-Operations from 2014 to 2018, as our Chief Operating Officer from 2018 to the present, and was appointed President in February 2021. Mr. Sedgwick’s duties involve him in matters related to new investments, asset management, portfolio management, portfolio optimization, investor relations and capital markets for the Company. Prior to joining CareTrust, Mr. Sedgwick served as the Chief Human Capital Officer and President of Corporate Services at Ensign. Mr. Sedgwick has been a licensed nursing home administrator since 2001. Our Chief Financial Officer, William M. Wagner, has more than 25 years of accounting and finance experience, primarily in real estate, including more than 15 years of experience working extensively for REITs. Most notably, he worked for both Nationwide Health Properties, Inc., a healthcare REIT, and Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc., a lodging REIT, serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of each company prior to joining us as our Chief Financial Officer. Mark D. Lamb has served as our Chief Investment Officer since August 2018. Mr. Lamb previously served as our Director of Investments from July 2014 to August 2018, and has been instrumental in building the Company’s portfolio since becoming a public company. Mr. Lamb is a licensed nursing home administrator and, prior to joining the Company in 2014, served as an administrator at one of Plum Healthcare’s flagship post-acute facilities from 2011 to 2014. Prior to 2011, Mr. Lamb served in acquisition and portfolio management capacities for various entities for more than nine years. Our executives have years of public company experience, including experience accessing both debt and equity capital markets to fund growth and maintain a flexible capital structure.
Flexible UPREIT Structure. We operate through an umbrella partnership, commonly referred to as an UPREIT structure, in which substantially all of our properties and assets are held through the Operating Partnership. Conducting business through the Operating Partnership will allow us flexibility in the manner in which we structure the acquisition of properties. In particular, an UPREIT structure enables us to acquire additional properties from sellers in exchange for limited
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partnership units, which provides property owners the opportunity to defer the tax consequences that would otherwise arise from a sale of their real properties and other assets to us. As a result, this structure allows us to acquire assets in a more efficient manner and may allow us to acquire assets that the owner would otherwise be unwilling to sell because of tax considerations.
Business Strategies
Our primary goal is to create long-term stockholder value through the payment of consistent cash dividends and the growth of our asset base. To achieve this goal, we intend to pursue a business strategy focused on opportunistic acquisitions and property diversification. We also intend to further develop our relationships with tenants and healthcare providers with a goal to progressively expand the mixture of tenants managing and operating our properties.
The key components of our business strategies include:
Diversify Asset Portfolio. We diversify through the acquisition of new and existing facilities from third parties and the expansion and upgrade of current facilities and strategically investing in new developments with options to acquire the developments at stabilization. We employ what we believe to be a disciplined, opportunistic acquisition strategy with a focus on the acquisition of SNFs, ALFs and ILFs, and we may determine in the future to expand our acquisitions to include medical office buildings, long-term acute care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. As we acquire additional properties, we expect to further diversify by geography, asset class and tenant within the healthcare and healthcare-related sectors.
 
Maintain Balance Sheet Strength and Liquidity. We maintain a capital structure that provides the resources and flexibility to support the growth of our business. We intend to maintain a mix of credit facility debt, unsecured debt and possibly secured mortgage debt, which, together with our anticipated ability to complete future equity financings, including issuances of our common stock via registered public offerings or under an at-the-market equity program, we expect will fund the growth of our property portfolio.
Develop New Tenant Relationships. We cultivate new relationships with tenants and healthcare providers in order to expand the mix of tenants operating our properties. We expect that this objective will be achieved over time as part of our overall strategy to acquire new properties and further diversify our portfolio of healthcare properties.
Provide Capital to Underserved Operators. We believe there is a significant opportunity to be a capital source to healthcare operators, through the acquisition and leasing of healthcare properties to them that are consistent with our investment and financing strategy at appropriate risk-adjusted rates of return, which, due to size and other considerations, are not a focus for larger healthcare REITs. We pursue acquisitions and strategic opportunities that meet our investing and financing strategy and that are attractively priced, including funding development of properties through preferred equity or construction loans and thereafter entering into sale and leaseback arrangements with such developers as well as other secured term financing and mezzanine lending. We utilize our management team’s operating experience, network of relationships and industry insight to identify both large and small quality operators in need of capital funding for future growth. In appropriate circumstances, we may negotiate with operators to acquire individual healthcare properties from those operators and then lease those properties back to the operators pursuant to long-term triple-net leases.
Fund Strategic Capital Improvements. We support operators by providing capital to them for a variety of purposes, including capital expenditures and facility modernization. We expect to structure these investments as either lease amendments that produce additional rents or as loans that are repaid by operators during the applicable lease term.
Pursue Strategic Development Opportunities. We work with operators and developers to identify strategic development opportunities. These opportunities may involve replacing or renovating facilities that may have become less competitive. We also identify new development opportunities that present attractive risk-adjusted returns. We may provide funding to the developer of a property in conjunction with entering into a sale leaseback transaction or an option to enter into a sale leaseback transaction for the property.
Competition
We compete for real property investments with other REITs, investment companies, private equity and hedge fund investors, sovereign funds, pension funds, healthcare operators, lenders and other institutional investors. Some of these competitors are significantly larger and have greater financial resources and lower costs of capital than us. Increased competition will make it more challenging to identify and successfully capitalize on acquisition opportunities that meet our investment objectives. Our ability to compete is also impacted by national and local economic trends, availability of investment alternatives, availability and cost of capital, construction and renovation costs, existing laws and regulations, new legislation and population trends.
In addition, revenues from our properties are dependent on the ability of our tenants and operators to compete with other healthcare operators. Healthcare operators compete on a local and regional basis for residents and patients and their ability to successfully attract and retain residents and patients depends on key factors such as the number of facilities in the local market,
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the types of services available, the quality of care, reputation, age and appearance of each facility and the cost of care in each locality. Private, federal and state payment programs and the effect of other laws and regulations may also have a significant impact on the ability of our tenants and operators to compete successfully for residents and patients at the properties.
Sustainability
As a healthcare-focused real estate investment trust, our assets are an integral part of the overall healthcare continuum in the communities that our tenants serve. We believe that environmental sustainability is an important part of our commitment to helping people live and age well in those communities. We are working to implement sustainable practices and providing tenant education, support and incentives to avoid or reduce practices in our corporate offices and by our tenants at our net-leased properties that may have negative environmental impacts. In addition, as a landlord and capital supplier to a key segment of the healthcare industry, we seek opportunities to use our influence to encourage and incentivize fair and healthy work environments for healthcare workers and suitable living conditions for patients and residents, and to promote diversity, inclusion and the ethical treatment of employees, residents, patients and others wherever our activities and influence can be felt.
Human Capital Resources
Supporting our people is a foundational value for us. We believe our success depends on our ability to attract, develop and retain key personnel. Our core philosophies and policies in this regard include:
Compensation and Benefits. The skills, experience and industry knowledge of key employees significantly benefit our performance. We believe we offer competitive compensation (including salary, incentive bonus and equity) and benefits packages (including a 401(k) plan with a fixed employer contribution and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), among others). Our compensation program is designed to attract and reward talented individuals who possess the skills necessary to support our business objectives, assist in the achievement of our strategic goals and create long-term value for our stockholders.
As of December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 15 full-time employees (including our executive officers), none of whom is subject to a collective bargaining agreement. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of our employees were based out of our corporate office in San Clemente, California, other than three full-time employees who worked remotely. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have temporarily closed our corporate office and most of our employees are currently working remotely. To address the dynamic nature of COVID-19 and remote work, the Company has offered workforce flexibility for all employees.
Retention and Turnover. Recruiting, hiring, training and retaining excellent employees is a high priority for us. These activities carry real and substantial costs, which we regard as a meaningful investment in our workforce and our company. We believe that employee turnover is costly both in direct and indirect ways, and we are committed to employee retention and satisfaction. During the year ended December 31, 2020, and excluding the ILF that we sold during 2020, we experienced turnover of two full-time employees, neither of whom were executive officers.
Sphere of Influence. We believe that the creation of an engaging and mutually supportive corporate culture that acknowledges and celebrates the value and contributions of all stakeholders is core to our long-term success. As an extension of our commitment to the many people who contribute to our success, we encourage and incentivize our triple-net tenants through subsidies and other economic incentives to reflect a similar commitment to integrity and corporate responsibility by voluntarily participating in our Tenant Code of Conduct and Corporate Responsibility Program (the “Tenant ESG Program”), and particularly by valuing the healthcare workers in their employ who deliver care in our facilities every day. These principles are reflected in our Policy on Human Capital, our Policy on Human Rights and Responsibilities and our proprietary Tenant ESG Program.
Government Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement
Overview
As operators of healthcare facilities, tenants of our healthcare properties are typically subject to extensive and complex federal, state and local healthcare laws and regulations relating to fraud and abuse practices, government reimbursement, licensure and certificate of need and similar laws governing the operation of healthcare facilities, and we expect that the healthcare industry, in general, will continue to face significant regulation and pressure in the areas of fraud, waste and abuse, cost control, healthcare management and provision of services, among others. These regulations are wide-ranging and can subject our tenants to civil, criminal and administrative sanctions. Affected tenants may find it increasingly difficult and costly to comply with this complex and evolving regulatory environment because of a relative lack of guidance in many areas as certain of our healthcare properties are subject to oversight from several government agencies and the legal requirements often vary from one jurisdiction to another. Changes in laws and regulations and reimbursement enforcement activity and regulatory non-compliance by our tenants could have a significant effect on their operations and financial condition, which in turn may adversely affect us, as detailed below and set forth under “Risk Factors - Risks Related to Our Business.”
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The following is a discussion of certain laws and regulations generally applicable to our tenants (as operators of our healthcare facilities) and, in certain cases, to us.
Enforcement
There are various extremely complex federal and state laws and regulations governing healthcare providers’ relationships and arrangements and prohibiting fraudulent and abusive practices by such providers. These laws include, but are not limited to, (i) federal and state false claims acts, which, among other things, prohibit providers from filing false claims or making false statements to receive payment from Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state healthcare programs, (ii) federal and state anti-kickback and fee-splitting statutes, including the Medicare and Medicaid anti-kickback statute, which prohibit the payment or receipt of remuneration to induce referrals or recommendations of healthcare items or services, (iii) federal and state provider self-referral laws (including the federal law commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”), which generally prohibit referrals by physicians and in some cases other providers to entities with which the physician or an immediate family member has a financial relationship, and (iv) the federal Civil Monetary Penalties Law, which prohibits, among other things, the knowing presentation of a false or fraudulent claim for certain healthcare services. Violations of healthcare fraud and abuse laws carry civil, criminal and administrative sanctions, including punitive sanctions, monetary penalties, imprisonment, denial of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and potential exclusion from Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state healthcare programs. These laws are enforced by a variety of federal, state and local agencies and can also be enforced by private litigants through, among other things, federal and state false claims acts, which allow private litigants to bring qui tam or “whistleblower” actions. Ensign and our other tenants are (and many of our future tenants are expected to be) subject to these laws, and some of them may in the future become the subject of governmental enforcement actions if they fail to comply with applicable laws.
State and Federal “Fraud and Abuse” Laws and Regulations. The Medicare and Medicaid anti-fraud and abuse amendments to the Social Security Act (the “Anti-Kickback Law”) make it a felony, subject to certain exceptions, for any person to engage in illegal remuneration arrangements with vendors, physicians and other health care providers for the referral of Medicare beneficiaries or Medicaid recipients. When a violation occurs, the government may proceed criminally or civilly. If the government proceeds criminally, a violation is a felony and may result in imprisonment for up to five years, fines of up to $25,000 and mandatory exclusion from participation in all federal health care programs. If the government proceeds civilly, it may impose a civil monetary penalty of $50,000 per violation and an assessment of not more than three times the total amount of remuneration involved, and it may exclude the parties from participation in all federal health care programs. Violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute also serve as a basis for federal False Claims Act cases. Many states have enacted laws similar to, and in some cases broader than, the Anti-Kickback Law.
The scope of prohibited payments in the Anti-Kickback Law is broad. The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has promulgated regulations which describe certain “safe harbor” arrangements that will not be deemed to constitute violations of the Anti-Kickback Law. An arrangement that fits squarely into a safe harbor is immune from prosecution under the Anti-Kickback Statute. The safe harbors described in the regulations are narrow and do not cover a wide range of economic relationships which many SNFs, physicians and other health care providers consider to be legitimate business arrangements not prohibited by the statute. Because the regulations describe safe harbors and do not purport to describe comprehensively all lawful and unlawful economic arrangements or other relationships between health care providers and referral sources, health care providers entering into these arrangements or relationships may be required to alter them in order to ensure compliance with the Anti-Kickback Law and may be subject to significant liability should an arrangement that does not fully satisfy a safe harbor be determined to be illegal. On November 20, 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) promulgated significant new Anti-Kickback Law regulations, including changes to existing safe harbors and the creation of new safe harbors, in an effort to reduce regulatory burden and incentivize coordinated care, including value-based arrangements.
The False Claims Act provides that any person who “knowingly presents, or causes to be presented” a “false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval” to the U.S. government, or its agents and contractors, is liable for a civil penalty ranging from $5,500 to $11,000 per claim, plus three times the amount of damages sustained by the government. Under the False Claims Act’s so-called “reverse false claims,” liability also could arise for “using” a false record or statement to “conceal,” “avoid” or “decrease” an “obligation” (which can include the retention of an overpayment) “to pay or transmit money or property to the government.” The False Claims Act also empowers and provides incentives to private citizens (commonly referred to as qui tam relator or whistleblower) to file suit on the government’s behalf. The qui tam relator’s share of the recovery can be between 15% and 25% in cases in which the government intervenes, and 25% to 30% in cases in which the government does not intervene. Notably, the Affordable Care Act amended certain jurisdictional bars to the False Claims Act, effectively narrowing the “public disclosure bar” (which generally requires that a whistleblower suit not be based on publicly disclosed information) and expanding the “original source” exception (which generally permits a whistleblower suit based on publicly
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disclosed information if the whistleblower is the original source of that publicly disclosed information), thus potentially broadening the field of potential whistleblowers.
Restrictions on Referrals. The federal physician self-referral law and its implementing regulations (commonly referred to as the “Stark Law”) prohibits providers of “designated health services” from billing Medicare or Medicaid if the patient is referred by a physician (or his/her immediate family member) with a financial relationship with the entity, unless an exception applies. “Designated health services” include clinical laboratory services; physical therapy services; occupational therapy services; outpatient speech-language pathology; radiology services, including magnetic resonance imaging, computerized axial tomography scans, and ultrasound services; radiation therapy services and supplies; durable medical equipment and services; parenteral and enteral nutrients, equipment and services; prosthetics, orthotics, and prosthetic devices and supplies; home health services; outpatient prescription drugs; and inpatient and outpatient hospital services. The Stark Law also prohibits the furnishing entity from submitting a claim for reimbursement or otherwise billing Medicare or any other person or entity for improperly referred designated health services. Many designated health services are commonly provided in SNFs and ALFs. The new regulations promulgated by HHS, discussed above in “State and Federal ‘Fraud and Abuse’ Laws and Regulations”, include significant changes to the Stark Law regulations, including (i) new exceptions designed to enable more value-based arrangements, (ii) a modification to the existing exception for electronic health records items and services, and (iii) new exceptions for limited remuneration to physicians and for cybersecurity technology and related services.
An entity that submits a claim for reimbursement in violation of the Stark Law must refund any amounts collected and may be: (1) subject to a civil penalty of up to $15,000 for each self-referred service; and (2) excluded from participation in federal health care programs. In addition, a physician or entity that has participated in a “scheme” to circumvent the operation of the Stark Law is subject to a civil penalty of up to $100,000 and possible exclusion from participation in federal health care programs.
Reimbursement
Sources of revenue for our tenants include (and for our future tenants is expected to include), among other sources, governmental healthcare programs, such as the federal Medicare program and state Medicaid programs, and non-governmental payors, such as insurance carriers and health maintenance organizations. As federal and state governments focus on healthcare reform initiatives, and as the federal government and many states face significant budget deficits, efforts to reduce costs by these payors will likely continue, which may result in reduced or slower growth in reimbursement for certain services provided by Ensign and our other tenants. Federal and state authorities are likely to continue to implement new and modified reimbursement methodologies, including value-based methodologies, that could have a negative impact on our tenants. Such changes to reimbursement methodologies could have a material impact on our tenants and we cannot provide assurances that the current revenue levels will be maintained under any future reimbursement arrangements. In addition, the impact of other health care reform efforts, such as “Medicare for all” or the provision of a new Medicare-like public option for consumers to receive health insurance, are impossible to predict.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively, the “Affordable Care Act”) serves as the primary vehicle for comprehensive healthcare reform in the United States. Efforts by the Trump administration and certain members of Congress to repeal or make significant changes to the Affordable Care Act, its implementation and/or its interpretation including the successful repeal of the penalty associated with the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, continue to cast uncertainty on the future of the Affordable Care Act. For example, on December 14, 2018, a U.S. District Court in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional in its entirety. This decision was appealed, and on December 18, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unconstitutional but remanded the case for further analysis. On November 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments, but a decision has not yet been issued. This and other changes may impact the number of individuals that elect to obtain public or private health insurance or the scope of such coverage, if purchased. Given the change in control of Congress, we anticipate Congress will renew efforts to expand health insurance coverage and to assess alternative health care delivery and payment systems. Congress may in the future propose and adopt legislation effecting additional fundamental changes in the health care system. For example, some members of Congress have suggested expanding the coverage of government-funded programs, including single-payor models. The Biden administration supports building on PPACA to expand health insurance coverage to more citizens, including through the addition of a Medicare-like public option, increasing the value of certain tax credits to lower premiums, and expanding access to Medicaid; it has not yet publicly supported a single-payor model. In addition, although the Democratic Party now controls the United States House of Representatives (by a slim majority) and Senate (by virtue of the Vice President casting the tie-breaking vote), legislation would likely require at least some support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to become law. At this time, it is uncertain whether any additional healthcare reform legislation will ultimately become law and we cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any healthcare reform legislation or the impact of potential legislation on our business. If our
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tenants’ residents do not have insurance, it could adversely impact the tenants’ ability to satisfy their obligations to us. Expansion of health insurance coverage to more citizens could have a positive financial impact on our tenants’ and their ability to satisfy their obligations to us.
Other legislative changes have been proposed and adopted since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, which also may impact our business. For instance, CMS is required to measure, track, and publish readmission rates of SNFs and to implement a value-based purchasing program for SNFs (the “SNF VBP Program”). The SNF VBP Program increases Medicare reimbursement rates for SNFs that achieve certain levels of quality performance measures developed by CMS, relative to other facilities. The value-based payments authorized by the SNF VBP Program are funded by reducing Medicare payment for all SNFs by 2% and redistributing up to 70% of those funds to high-performing SNFs. However, there is no assurance that payments made by CMS as a result of the SNF VBP Program will be sufficient to cover a facility’s costs. If Medicare reimbursement provided to our healthcare tenants is reduced under the SNF VBP Program, that reduction may have an adverse impact on the ability of our tenants to meet their obligations to us.
See “Risk Factors - Risks Related to Our Business - Healthcare reform legislation impacts cannot accurately be predicted and could adversely affect our results of operations” for additional risks related to changes in Medicare reimbursement.
Increased Government Oversight of Skilled Nursing Facilities
Section 1150B of the Social Security Act requires employees of federally funded long-term care facilities to immediately report any reasonable suspicion of a crime committed against a resident of that facility. Those reports must be submitted to at least one law enforcement agency and the applicable Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Survey Agency. Covered individuals who fail to report under Section 1150B are subject to various penalties, including civil monetary penalties of up to $300,000 and possible exclusion from participation in any Federal health care program. Medicare regulations require SNFs to establish and implement written policies to ensure the reporting of crimes that occur in federally funded SNFs in accordance with Section 1150B.
In August 2017, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) issued a preliminary report regarding quality of care concerns by operators of SNFs. In its report, the OIG determined that CMS has inadequate procedures in place to ensure that incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in SNFs are identified and reported. The report was issued in connection with the OIG’s ongoing review of potential abuse and neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in SNFs.
As a result of the OIG report, CMS enforcement activity against SNF operators may increase, especially with regard to the reporting of potential abuse or neglect of SNF residents. If any of our tenants or their employees are found to have violated any applicable reporting requirements, they may become subject to penalties or other sanctions up to and including loss of licensure.
Healthcare Licensure and Certificate of Need
Our healthcare facilities are subject to extensive federal, state and local licensure, certification and inspection laws and regulations. In addition, various licenses and permits are required to operate SNFs and ALFs, dispense narcotics, operate pharmacies, handle radioactive materials and operate equipment. Many states require certain healthcare providers to obtain a certificate of need, which requires prior approval for the construction, modification and closure of certain healthcare facilities. The ability to obtain such approval and/or the approval process may impact some of our tenants’ abilities to expand or change their businesses. Any failure to comply with any of these laws, regulations, or standards could result in penalties which may include loss or restriction of license, loss of accreditation, denial of reimbursement, imposition of fines, suspension or decertification from federal and state healthcare programs, or closure of the facility.
Privacy, Security and Data Breach Notification Laws
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended (“HIPAA”) regulates the privacy and security of certain health information (“Protected Health Information”) and requires entities subject to HIPAA to provide notification of breaches of Protected Health Information. Entities subject to HIPAA include health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and most health care providers (including many of our tenants). Business associates of these entities who create, receive, maintain or transmit Protected Health Information are also subject to HIPAA. Violations of the HIPAA requirements may result in civil monetary penalties of up to $50,000 per violation with a maximum civil penalty of $1.5 million in a calendar year for violations of the same requirement. However, a single breach or incident can result in violations of multiple requirements, resulting in possible penalties well in excess of $1.5 million. Breaches of unsecured Protected Health Information and other violations of HIPAA may have other material adverse consequences including material loss of business, business interruption, loss of patient or other critical data, regulatory enforcement, substantial legal liability and reputational harm. Certain violations of HIPAA can result in criminal penalties and enforcement.
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Various other state and federal laws relate to privacy, security and the reporting of data breaches involving personal information (together with HIPAA, “Privacy Laws”). For example, various state laws and regulations may regulate the privacy and security of personal information, and require notification of affected individuals in the event of a data breach involving such individual’s personal information (including an individual’s name plus social security number, date of birth or credit card information, for example). Failure of the Company or its tenants to comply with applicable Privacy Laws could have a materially adverse effect on our Company. Failure of our tenants to comply with applicable Privacy Laws could have a material adverse effect on their ability to meet their obligations to us. Furthermore, the adoption of new Privacy Laws at the federal and state level could require us or our tenants to incur significant compliance costs.
Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”)
Although most of our properties are not required to comply with the ADA because of certain “grandfather” provisions in the law, some of our properties must comply with the ADA and similar state or local laws to the extent that such properties are “public accommodations,” as defined in those statutes. These laws may require removal of barriers to access by persons with disabilities in certain public areas of our properties where such removal is readily achievable. Under our triple-net lease structure, our tenants would generally be responsible for additional costs that may be required to make our facilities ADA-compliant. Noncompliance with the ADA could result in the imposition of fines or an award of damages to private litigants.
Environmental Matters
A wide variety of federal, state and local environmental and occupational health and safety laws and regulations affect healthcare facility operations. These complex federal and state statutes, and their enforcement, involve a myriad of regulations, many of which involve strict liability on the part of the potential offender. Some of these federal and state statutes may directly impact us. Under various federal, state and local environmental laws, ordinances and regulations, an owner of real property, such as us, may be liable for the costs of removal or remediation of hazardous or toxic substances at, under or disposed of in connection with such property, as well as other potential costs relating to hazardous or toxic substances (including government fines and damages for injuries to persons and adjacent property). The cost of any required remediation, removal, fines or personal or property damages and the owner’s liability therefore could exceed or impair the value of the property and/or the assets of the owner. In addition, the presence of such substances, or the failure to properly dispose of or remediate such substances, may adversely affect the owner’s ability to sell or rent such property or to borrow using such property as collateral which, in turn, could reduce our revenues. See “Risk Factors - General Risk Factors - Environmental compliance costs and liabilities may materially impair the value of properties owned by us.”
REIT Qualification
We elected to be taxed as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes beginning with our taxable year ended December 31, 2014. Our qualification as a REIT will depend upon our ability to meet, on a continuing basis, various complex requirements under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), relating to, among other things, the sources of our gross income, the composition and values of our assets, our distribution levels to our stockholders and the concentration of ownership of our capital stock. We believe that we are organized in conformity with the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT under the Code and that our manner of operation has and will enable us to continue to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT.
The Operating Partnership
We own substantially all of our assets and properties and conduct our operations through the Operating Partnership. We believe that conducting business through the Operating Partnership provides flexibility with respect to the manner in which we structure the acquisition of properties. In particular, an UPREIT structure enables us to acquire additional properties from sellers in tax deferred transactions. In these transactions, the seller would typically contribute its assets to the Operating Partnership in exchange for units of limited partnership interest in the Operating Partnership (“OP Units”). Holders of OP Units will have the right, after a 12-month holding period, to require the Operating Partnership to redeem any or all of such OP Units for cash based upon the fair market value of an equivalent number of shares of CareTrust REIT’s common stock at the time of the redemption. Alternatively, we may elect to acquire those OP Units in exchange for shares of our common stock on a one-for-one basis. The number of shares of common stock used to determine the redemption value of OP Units, and the number of shares issuable in exchange for OP Units, is subject to adjustment in the event of stock splits, stock dividends, distributions of warrants or stock rights, specified extraordinary distributions and similar events. The Operating Partnership is managed by our wholly owned subsidiary, CareTrust GP, LLC, which is the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership and owns one percent of its outstanding partnership interests. As of December 31, 2020, CareTrust REIT is the only limited partner of the Operating Partnership, owning 99% of its outstanding partnership interests, and we have not issued OP Units to any other party.
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The benefits of our UPREIT structure include the following:
Access to capital. We believe the UPREIT structure provides us with access to capital for refinancing and growth. Because an UPREIT structure includes a partnership as well as a corporation, we can access the markets through the Operating Partnership issuing equity or debt as well as the corporation issuing capital stock or debt securities. Sources of capital include possible future issuances of debt or equity through public offerings or private placements.
Growth. The UPREIT structure allows stockholders, through their ownership of common stock, and the limited partners, through their ownership of OP Units, an opportunity to participate in future investments we may make in additional properties.
Tax deferral. The UPREIT structure provides property owners who transfer their real properties to the Operating Partnership in exchange for OP Units the opportunity to defer the tax consequences that otherwise would arise from a sale of their real properties and other assets to us or to a third party. As a result, this structure allows us to acquire assets in a more efficient manner and may allow us to acquire assets that the owner would otherwise be unwilling to sell because of tax considerations.
Insurance
We maintain, or require in our leases that our tenants maintain, all applicable lines of insurance on our properties and their operations. The amount and scope of insurance coverage provided by our policies and the policies maintained by our tenants is customary for similarly situated companies in our industry. However, we cannot assure you that our tenants will maintain the required insurance coverages, and the failure by any of them to do so could have a material adverse effect on us. We also cannot assure you that we will continue to require the same levels of insurance coverage under our leases, including the Ensign Master Leases, that such insurance will be available at a reasonable cost in the future or that the insurance coverage provided will fully cover all losses on our properties upon the occurrence of a catastrophic event, nor can we assure you of the future financial viability of the insurers.
Available Information
We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with SEC. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains these reports, and other information about issuers, like us, which file electronically with the SEC. The address of that site is http://www.sec.gov. We make available our reports on Form 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K (as well as all amendments to these reports), and other information, free of charge, on the Investor Relations section of our website at www.caretrustreit.com. The information found on, or otherwise accessible through, our website is not incorporated by reference into, nor does it form a part of, this report or any other document that we file with the SEC.

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ITEM 1A.    Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business
We are dependent on the healthcare operators that lease our properties to successfully operate their businesses and make contractual lease payments, and an event that materially and adversely affects their business, financial position or results of operations could materially and adversely affect our business, financial position or results of operations.
Because all of our properties are operated by our tenants pursuant to triple-net master leases, we are unable to directly implement strategic business decisions regarding the daily operation and marketing of these properties. While we have rights as the property owner under our triple-net leases and monitor our tenants’ and operators’ performance, we may have limited recourse under our master leases if we believe that a tenant or operator is not performing adequately and any failure by a tenant to effectively conduct its operations or to maintain and improve our properties could adversely affect its business reputation and its ability to attract and retain residents in our properties, which in turn, could adversely affect their ability to make rental payments to us and otherwise adversely affect our results of operations, including our ability to repay our outstanding indebtedness or our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders as required to maintain our REIT status. Additionally, because each master lease is a triple-net lease, we depend on our tenants to pay all insurance, taxes, utilities and maintenance and repair expenses and to indemnify, defend and hold us harmless from and against various claims, litigation and liabilities arising in connection with their business. There can be no assurance that our tenants will have sufficient assets, income and financing to enable them to satisfy their contractual lease payment or indemnification obligations.
Ensign leases or provides a guaranty for a significant portion of our properties. As of December 31, 2020, properties leased to Ensign under all Ensign leases represented $57.2 million, or 33%, of our rental income, exclusive of operating expense reimbursements, on an annualized run-rate basis, and properties leased to Pennant under the Pennant Master Lease for which Ensign provides a guaranty (the “Pennant Guaranty”) represented $7.8 million, or 5%, of our rental income, exclusive of operating expense reimbursements, on an annualized run-rate basis. Ensign’s inability or unwillingness to meet its lease obligations or its obligations pursuant to the Pennant Guaranty could materially adversely affect our business, financial position or results of operations. In addition, Ensign’s inability to satisfy its other lease obligations including payment of insurance, taxes and utilities, could materially and adversely affect the condition of the properties leased to Ensign as well as Ensign’s business, financial position and results of operations. Accordingly, if Ensign were to experience a material and adverse effect on its business, financial position or results of operations, our business, financial position or results of operations could also be materially and adversely affected.
Further, our dependence on Ensign’s rental payments for a substantial portion of our rental income may limit our ability to enforce our rights under the Ensign leases or the Pennant Guaranty or to terminate the Ensign leases. Ensign’s failure to comply with its lease obligations or its obligations pursuant to the Pennant Guaranty, or with federal and state healthcare laws and regulations to which the leased properties are subject, could require us to find another lessee for such leased properties and result in a decrease in or cessation of rental payments. In such event, we may be unable to locate a suitable lessee at similar rental rates or at all, which would reduce our rental income.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and measures intended to prevent its spread could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
Long-term care residents are at high risk for infection and severe illness or possible death from COVID-19 due to their advanced age, likelihood of underlying medical conditions, and the group living setting of long-term care facilities. To date, there have been significant COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities all over the world. These outbreaks have affected not only the residents, but also the health care providers and visitors to these facilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has led governments and other authorities around the world, including federal, state and local authorities in the United States, to impose measures intended to reduce its spread. These measures impose restrictions on movement and business operations such as travel bans, border closings, business limitations and closures (subject to exceptions for essential operations and businesses), quarantines and shelter-in-place orders. Although some of these restrictions have been lifted or scaled back, resurgences of COVID-19 and the emergence of more readily transmissible variants have resulted in the re-imposition of certain restrictions and may lead to other restrictions being implemented.
Recently, two COVID-19 vaccines were approved for full use. While the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is currently limited, states have generally prioritized residents of long-term care facilities, health care providers, and, increasingly, people 65 and older to receive the vaccine. However, distribution of the vaccine has taken longer than expected due to logistics, lack of resources, scheduling, staffing issues and vaccine resistance, and availability is expected to remain scarce for the next several months, even as newer, more contagious variants of COVID-19 circulate worldwide. To meet these challenges, the Biden administration has announced a vaccine offensive plan that calls for greatly expanding access to the vaccine and using the Defense Production Act to expand vaccine production. Experts do not know how long immunity lasts after vaccination or exactly what percentage of the population would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd (or population)
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immunity to COVID-19. The Biden administration also proposed a $1.9 trillion spending package to combat the economic downturn and the pandemic, including $20 billion for a national vaccine program. At this time, it is uncertain whether any such proposal will ultimately become law and we cannot predict the ultimate content, timing or effect of any such legislation or the impact of potential legislation on our business.
Given the adverse impact the pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions have had, and may continue to have, on the economy generally and the prevalence of outbreaks within long-term care facilities, our business, results of operations and financial condition have been adversely impacted, and may in the future be materially adversely impacted, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures to prevent its spread subject us to various risks and uncertainties, some of which have adversely affected our business, and all of which could materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, including the following:
the inability of our tenants to pay contractual rent in full, on a timely basis or at all due to increases in operating costs incurred by our tenants or declines in occupancy rates at their facilities, which would adversely impact our rental income, and the adverse impact on our rental income if we grant rent deferrals, reductions or other restructurings or accommodations to any of our tenants;
the possibility that we may be required to write-off unpaid rental payments, incur lease accounting charges due to the uncollectibility of rental payments and/or accede to unfavorable modifications of lease terms if a tenant is unable to pay contractual rent; and/or the possibility that adverse market conditions or declines in the operating performance of our tenants or borrowers may result in asset impairment charges or credit losses on our loans receivable if we determine that the full amount of our investments are not recoverable;
the financial deterioration of one or more of our tenants or borrowers (which has, and could continue to result from, among other reasons (i) temporary cessation or limitations on certain medical procedures which in turn results in a reduction in hospital patients and the need for post-acute care services offered by our tenants, (ii) increased operating costs and staffing requirements related to compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) protocols, (iii) increased scrutiny by regulators of infection control and prevention measures, (iv) potential repayments of relief funds received by tenants as changes in federal guidelines are published and potential false claims act and whistleblower liability for violations of relief fund terms and conditions, (v) nursing or other staffing shortages exacerbated by the pandemic; or (vi) decisions by elderly individuals to avoid or delay entrance into assisted living and other long-term care facilities in order to minimize their potential for exposure to COVID-19 in group living situations), which may result in such tenant(s) experiencing insolvency or initiating bankruptcy or similar proceedings which adversely affect our ability to collect rent or interest payments from such tenants and result in increased costs to us;
increased costs or delays that we have incurred, and may continue to incur, if we need to reposition or transition any of our currently-leased properties to another tenant or operator, which have, and may continue to, adversely impact our revenues and results of operations;
risks related to lawsuits and regulatory enforcement actions related to COVID-19 outbreaks involving us, our tenants, operators or borrowers, including increases in the costs of business, negative publicity and/or further decreases in occupancy and/or profitability at our facilities (we note, however, that liability protections provided to health care providers under the PREP Act, as summarized below, may reduce the risk of legal liability for certain actions taken by our operators in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic);
deterioration of state and local economic conditions and job losses, which has, and may continue to, decrease demand for and occupancy levels of our properties and cause our rental rates and property values to be negatively impacted;
possible complete or partial closures of, or other operational issues at, one or more of our properties resulting from government actions or directives, which may intensify the risk of rent deferrals or non-payment of contractual obligations by our tenants or operators;
material increases in COVID-19 related claims and litigation against nursing home and seniors housing operators (whether by residents, employees, contractors, suppliers, etc.) causing their insurance coverage to increase to levels which could negatively impact their financial performance and ability to meet their contractual lease obligations to us;
limitations on our access to capital and other sources of funding, which could adversely affect the availability and terms of future borrowings or refinancings or other forms of capital raising, including issuances under our New ATM Program (as defined below), and which could adversely impact our ability to make new property investments;
our ability to continue to make cash distributions to our stockholders commensurate with historical levels; and
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our ability to repay outstanding debt or maintain compliance with covenants under our Amended Credit Facility (as defined below) and the indenture governing our Notes.
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (the “PREP Act”), enacted in 2005, authorizes the HHS Secretary to issue a declaration to provide liability immunity to certain individuals and entities, including health care providers, against any claim of loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the manufacture, distribution, administration or use of medical countermeasures, including a qualified pandemic, except for cases involving willful misconduct. The HHS Secretary first declared on January 31, 2020 that a public health emergency exists under the PREP Act in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered the PREP Act provisions. A declaration lasts until the HHS Secretary declares that the public health emergency no longer exists or upon the expiration of the 90-day period beginning on the date that the HHS Secretary declared a public health emergency exists, whichever occurs first. The HHS Secretary has renewed this declaration multiple times, and is currently set to be in force through April 2021. The PREP Act is intended to protect health care providers, including many of our tenants, operators or borrowers, from liability for using or administering medical devices or medications that have been sanctioned on some level, even if not formally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or CDC. The PREP Act is especially important for our tenants that want to offer treatment options to their residents who test positive for COVID-19. If courts do not enforce the provisions of the PREP Act to provide liability immunity for certain health care providers, such as nursing home and seniors housing operators, or if the Biden administration scales back or rescinds any previous declarations to invoke the PREP Act, our tenants, operators or borrowers, the financial performance of our tenants, operators or borrowers and ability to meet their contractual obligations to us could be adversely affected.
The duration and extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on our operational and financial performance, and the operational and financial performance of our tenants, will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time, including new information which may emerge concerning the severity of COVID-19 and the current and future variants thereof, actions taken to contain COVID-19, resurgences of COVID-19 that may continue to occur, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions resume. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, we may experience adverse impacts to our business, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects as a result of its global economic impact, including any economic downturn or recession that has occurred or may occur in the future. The adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations and financial condition could be material.
Our tenants depend on reimbursement from government and other third-party payors and if reimbursement rates from such payors are reduced by future legislative reform, it could cause our tenants’ revenues to decline and could affect their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Sometimes, governmental payors freeze or reduce payments to healthcare providers, or provide annual reimbursement rate increases that are smaller than expected, due to budgetary and other pressures. Healthcare reimbursement will likely continue to be of significant importance to federal and state authorities. For example, the federal government and a number of states are currently managing budget deficits and, as a result, many states are focusing on the reduction of expenditures under their Medicaid programs, which may result in a freeze on Medicaid rates or a decrease in reimbursement rates for our tenants. The need to control Medicaid expenditures may be exacerbated by the potential for increased enrollment in Medicaid due to unemployment and declines in family incomes. These potential reductions could be compounded by the potential for federal cost-cutting efforts that could lead to reductions in reimbursement to our tenants under both the Medicaid and Medicare programs. While we cannot make any assessment as to the ultimate timing or the effect that any future legislative reforms may have on our tenants’ costs of doing business and on the amount of reimbursement by government and other third-party payors, potential reductions in Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, or in non-governmental third-party payor reimbursement, to our tenants could reduce the revenues of our tenants and their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Bankruptcy, insolvency or financial deterioration of our tenants could delay or prevent collection of unpaid rents or require us to find new tenants.
We receive substantially all of our income as rental payments under leases of our properties. We have no control over the success or failure of our tenants’ businesses and, at any time, any of our tenants may experience a downturn in its business that may weaken its financial condition. As a result, our tenants have in the past, and may in the future, fail to make rent payments when due, or our tenants may declare bankruptcy. Tenant bankruptcies or failures to make rent payments when due could result in termination of the tenant’s lease and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders (which could adversely affect our ability to raise capital or service our indebtedness). This risk is magnified where we lease multiple properties to a single tenant, such as Ensign.
If a tenant is unable to comply with the terms of its lease, we may be forced to write off unpaid amounts due to us from the tenant, move to a cash basis method of accounting for recognizing rental income from the tenant or otherwise modify the tenant’s lease in ways that are unfavorable to us. Alternatively, failure of a tenant to perform under a lease could require us to declare a default, repossess the property, find a suitable replacement tenant, hire third-party managers to operate the property or
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sell the property. See Note 2, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies and Note 3, Real Estate Investments, Net for further information.
If one or more of our tenants files for bankruptcy relief, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides that a debtor has the option to assume or reject the unexpired lease within a certain period of time. Any bankruptcy filing by or relating to one of our tenants could bar all efforts by us to collect pre-bankruptcy debts from that tenant or seize its property. A tenant bankruptcy could also delay our efforts to collect past due balances under the leases and could ultimately preclude collection of all or a portion of these sums. It is possible that we may recover substantially less than the full value of any unsecured claims we hold, if any, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Replacement tenants or operators may be difficult to identify and we may be required to incur substantial renovation costs to make our healthcare properties suitable for such tenants or operators.
If our tenants terminate or do not renew their leases with us, we would attempt to reposition the properties with another tenant or operator. Rental payments on such properties could decline or cease altogether while we reposition the properties with a suitable replacement tenant or operator and we may be required to fund certain expenses and obligations (e.g., real estate taxes, debt costs and maintenance expenses) to preserve the value of, and avoid the imposition of liens on, such properties while they are being repositioned.
Healthcare facilities are typically highly customized and may not be easily adapted to non-healthcare-related uses. The improvements generally required to conform a property to healthcare use, such as upgrading electrical, gas and plumbing infrastructure and security, are costly and at times tenant-specific. A new or replacement tenant may require different features in a property, depending on that tenant’s particular operations. If a current tenant is unable to pay rent and vacates a property, we may incur substantial expenditures to modify a property before we are able to secure another tenant. In addition, approvals of local authorities for any required modifications and/or renovations may be necessary, resulting in delays in transitioning a facility to a new tenant. These expenditures or renovations and delays could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
In addition, we may fail to identify suitable replacements or enter into leases or other arrangements with new tenants or operators on a timely basis or on terms as favorable to us as our current leases, if at all. If we experience a significant number of un-leased properties due to the inability to find suitable replacement tenants or successfully reposition the property, our operating expenses could increase significantly. Even after a suitable replacement tenant or operator has taken over operation of a property, it may still take an extended period of time before such property is fully repositioned and value restored, if at all. Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to stockholders.
The geographic concentration of some of our facilities could leave us vulnerable to an economic downturn, regulatory changes or acts of nature in those areas.
As a result of the concentration of our properties in California, Texas, Louisiana, Idaho and Arizona as described in “Portfolio Summary” under Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the conditions of local economies and real estate markets, including increases in real estate taxes, changes in governmental rules, regulations and reimbursement rates or criteria, changes in demographics, state funding, acts of nature and other factors that may result in a decrease in demand and/or reimbursement for skilled nursing services in these states could have a disproportionately adverse effect on our tenants’ revenue, costs and results of operations, which may affect their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Our facilities located in Texas and Louisiana are especially susceptible to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding, and our facilities located in California are particularly susceptible to natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes and mudslides. These acts of nature may cause disruption to our tenants, their employees and our facilities, which could have an adverse impact on our tenants’ patients and businesses. In order to provide patient care, our tenants are dependent on consistent and reliable delivery of food, pharmaceuticals, utilities and other goods to our facilities, and the availability of employees to provide services at the facilities. If the delivery of goods or the ability of employees to reach our facilities is interrupted in any material respect due to a natural disaster or other reasons, it would have a significant impact on our facilities and our tenants’ businesses at those facilities. Furthermore, the impact, or impending threat, of a natural disaster may require that our tenants evacuate one or more facilities, which would be costly and would involve risks, including potentially fatal risks, for the patients at such facilities. The impact of disasters and similar events is inherently uncertain. Such events could harm our tenants’ patients and employees, severely damage or destroy one or more of our facilities, harm our tenants’ business, reputation and financial performance, or otherwise cause our tenants’ businesses to suffer in ways that we currently cannot predict.
In addition, to the extent that significant changes in the climate occur in areas where our properties are located, we may experience extreme weather and changes in precipitation and temperature, all of which may result in physical damage to or a decrease in demand for properties located in these areas or affected by these conditions. Should the impact of climate change be
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material in nature, including destruction of our properties, or occur for lengthy periods of time, our financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, changes in federal and state legislation and regulation on climate change could result in increased capital expenditures to improve the energy efficiency of our existing properties and could also require us to spend more on our new development properties without a corresponding increase in revenue.
We pursue property acquisitions and seek strategic opportunities in the ordinary course of our business, which may result in significant usage of management resources or costs, and we may not fully realize the potential benefits of such transactions.
We regularly review, evaluate, engage in discussions regarding, and pursue acquisitions of properties and seek other strategic opportunities in the ordinary course of business in order to maximize stockholder value. We may devote a significant amount of our management resources to, and incur significant costs in connection with, such transactions, which may not result in definitive agreements or the completion of any transaction and, could negatively impact our operations. In addition, there is no assurance that we will fully realize the potential benefits of any past or future acquisition or strategic transaction.
Additionally, from time to time, we may invest in preferred equity interests in joint ventures. Our use of joint ventures may be subject to risks that may not be present with other ownership methods. Our joint ventures may involve property development, which presents additional risks that could render a development project less profitable or not profitable at all and, under certain circumstances, may prevent completion of development activities once undertaken.
If we cannot identify and purchase a sufficient quantity of suitable properties at favorable prices or if we are unable to finance acquisitions on commercially favorable terms, or at all, our business, financial position or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, any future acquisitions may require the issuance of securities, the incurrence of debt, assumption of contingent liabilities or incurrence of significant expenditures, each of which could materially adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, the fact that we must distribute 90% of our REIT taxable income in order to maintain our qualification as a REIT may limit our ability to rely upon rental payments from our leased properties or subsequently acquired properties in order to finance acquisitions. As a result, if debt or equity financing is not available on acceptable terms, further acquisitions might be limited.
Increased competition has resulted and may further result in lower net revenues for some of our tenants and may affect their ability to meet their financial and other contractual obligations to us.
The healthcare industry is highly competitive. The occupancy levels at, and results of operations from, our facilities are dependent on our ability and the ability of our tenants to compete with other tenants and operators on a number of different levels, including the quality of care provided, reputation, the physical appearance of a facility, price, the range of services offered, family preference, amenities, alternatives for healthcare delivery, the supply of competing properties, physicians, staff, referral sources, location, and the size and demographics of the population in the surrounding area. In addition, our tenants face an increasingly competitive labor market for skilled management personnel and nurses together with Medicaid reimbursement in some states that does not cover the full cost of caring for residents. Significant turnover, or a shortage of nurses or other trained personnel or general inflationary pressures on wages, may force tenants to enhance pay and benefits packages to compete effectively for skilled personnel, or to use more expensive contract personnel, but they be unable to offset these added costs by increasing the rates charged to residents. Any increase in labor costs and other property operating expenses or any failure by our tenants to attract and retain qualified personnel could reduce the revenues of our tenants and their ability to meet their obligations to us.
Our tenants also compete with numerous other companies providing similar healthcare services or alternatives such as home health agencies, life care at home, community-based service programs, retirement communities and convalescent centers. We cannot be certain that our tenants will be able to achieve occupancy and rate levels, or manage their expenses, in a way that will enable them to meet all of their obligations to us. Further, many competing companies may have resources and attributes that are superior to those of our tenants. They may encounter increased competition that could limit their ability to maintain or attract residents or expand their businesses or to manage their expenses, either of which could adversely affect their ability to meet their obligations to us, potentially decreasing our revenues, impairing our assets, and/or increasing our collection and dispute costs.
In addition, if development of seniors housing facilities outpaces demand for those assets in markets in which we are located, those markets may become saturated and our seniors housing tenants and operators could experience decreased occupancy, which may affect their ability to meet their financial and other contractual obligations to us.
Required regulatory approvals can delay or prohibit transfers of our healthcare properties, which could result in periods in which we are unable to receive rent for such properties.
Our tenants that operate SNFs and other healthcare facilities must be licensed under applicable state law and, depending upon the type of facility, certified or approved as providers under the Medicare and/or Medicaid programs. Prior to the transfer of the operations of such healthcare properties to successor operators, the new operator generally must become licensed under state law and, in certain states, receive change of ownership approvals under certificate of need laws (which provide for a
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certification that the state has made a determination that a need exists for the beds located on the property) and, if applicable, file for a Medicare and Medicaid change of ownership. Upon termination or expiration of existing leases, delays or the failure of the new tenant in receiving regulatory approvals from the applicable federal, state or local government agencies, may prolong the period during which we are unable to collect rent and the property may experience performance declines. We could also incur substantial additional expenses in connection with any licensing, receivership or change of ownership proceedings.
We may not be able to sell properties when we desire because real estate investments are relatively illiquid, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial position or results of operations.
Real estate investments are generally illiquid. As a result, we may be unable to vary our portfolio promptly in response to changes in the real estate market. A downturn in the real estate market could materially and adversely affect the value of our properties and our ability to sell such properties for acceptable prices or terms. We also cannot predict the length of time needed to find a willing purchaser and to close the sale of a property or portfolio of properties. These factors and any others that would impede our ability to respond to adverse changes in the performance of our properties could materially and adversely affect our business, financial position or results of operations and our ability to pay dividends and make distributions.
We or our tenants may experience uninsured or underinsured losses, which could result in a significant loss of the capital we have invested in a property, decrease anticipated future revenues or cause us to incur unanticipated expenses.
Our lease agreements require that the tenant maintain general and professional liability insurance and comprehensive liability and hazard insurance. However, there are certain types of losses (including, but not limited to, losses arising from environmental conditions or of a catastrophic nature, such as earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes and floods) that may be uninsurable or not economically insurable. In addition, insurance coverage may be insufficient to pay the full current market value or replacement cost of any loss. Inflation, changes in tort liability laws, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations, and other factors also might make it infeasible to use insurance proceeds to protect a tenant in a liability claim or replace a property after such property has been damaged or destroyed. Under such circumstances, the insurance proceeds received might not be adequate to restore the economic position with respect to such tenant or property.
If one of our tenants experiences a material general or professional liability loss that is uninsured or exceeds policy coverage limits, it may be unable to satisfy its lease payment obligations to us. If one of our properties experiences a loss that is uninsured or that exceeds policy coverage limits, we could lose the capital invested in the damaged property as well as the anticipated future cash flows from the property.
In addition, even if damage to our properties is covered by insurance, business disruptions caused by a casualty event may result in lost revenue for our tenants or us for which insurance may not fully compensate them or us for such loss of revenue. If one of our tenants experiences such a loss, it may be unable to satisfy its lease payment obligations to us.
The ownership by our chief executive officer, Gregory K. Stapley, of shares of Ensign and Pennant common stock may create, or may create the appearance of, conflicts of interest.
Because of his former position with Ensign, our chief executive officer, Gregory K. Stapley, owns shares of Ensign common stock. Mr. Stapley also owns shares of our common stock. In 2019, in connection with the Pennant Spin, each holder of Ensign common stock received one half share of Pennant common stock per share of Ensign common stock. As a result, Mr. Stapley now also owns shares of Pennant common stock. His individual holdings of shares of our common stock, Ensign common stock and Pennant common stock may be significant compared to his respective total assets. These equity interests may create, or appear to create, conflicts of interest when he is faced with decisions that may not benefit or affect CareTrust REIT, Ensign or Pennant in the same manner.
We are, and may continue to be, exposed to contingent rent escalators, which could hinder our profitability and growth. 
We derive revenue primarily by leasing our assets under long-term triple-net leases with rental rates that, subject to certain limitations, are generally fixed with annual rent escalations contingent on changes in the Consumer Price Index, subject to maximum fixed percentages. If the Consumer Price Index does not increase, our revenues may not increase. In addition, if economic conditions result in significant increases in the Consumer Price Index, but the escalations under our leases are capped, our growth and profitability also may be limited.
Risks Related to Laws and Regulations
Healthcare reform legislation impacts cannot accurately be predicted and could adversely affect our results of operations.
We and the healthcare operators leasing our properties depend on the healthcare industry and are susceptible to risks associated with healthcare reform. Legislative proposals are introduced each year that would introduce major changes in the healthcare system, both nationally and at the state level. In light of the transfer of power from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, and the change in control of the United States Senate, we believe that efforts may be made to, among other things: (i) repeal much of the deregulation and regulatory changes made to the PPACA during the previous
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administration; (ii) expand health insurance coverage to more individuals, potentially by enacting legislation creating a single-payor health insurance model; and (iii) transition Federal payment programs further in the direction of value based care, but we cannot predict whether or in what form any of these measures will be enacted, or what effect they would have on our business or the businesses of our tenants if enacted. Efforts may also be made to reduce the age at which individuals become eligible for Medicare, which could have an adverse impact on our tenants because Medicare sometimes reimburses long term care providers at rates lower than those paid by commercial payors. We also believe that additional resources may be dedicated to regulatory enforcement, which could increase our tenants’ costs of doing business and negatively impact their ability to pay their rent obligations to us. Additional stimulus funding for state and local governments may have a positive impact on our tenants because it may alleviate some pressures on state and local governments to reduce overall Medicaid expenditures.
Our tenants are subject to extensive federal, state and local laws and regulations affecting the healthcare industry that include those relating to, among other things, licensure, conduct of operations, ownership of facilities, addition of facilities and equipment, allowable costs, services, prices for services, qualified beneficiaries, quality of care, patient rights and insurance, fraudulent or abusive behavior, and financial and other arrangements that may be entered into by healthcare providers. See “Government Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information. If our tenants or operators fail to comply with the laws, regulations and other requirements applicable to their businesses and the operation of our properties, they could become ineligible to receive reimbursement from governmental and private third-party payor programs, face bans on admissions of new patients or residents, suffer civil or criminal penalties or be required to make significant operational changes. Changes in enforcement policies by federal and state governments have also resulted in a significant increase in inspection rates, citations of regulatory deficiencies and sanctions, including terminations from Medicare and Medicaid programs, bars on Medicare and Medicaid payments for new admissions, civil monetary penalties and criminal penalties. Our tenants and operators could be forced to expend considerable resources responding to an investigation, lawsuit or other enforcement action under applicable laws or regulations. Additionally, if our tenants’ residents do not have insurance, it could adversely impact the tenants’ ability to satisfy their obligation to us. We cannot predict whether any future legislative proposals will be adopted or, if adopted, the impact these proposals would have on our tenants or our business.
Tenants that fail to comply with applicable requirements of governmental reimbursement programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, may cease to operate or be unable to meet their financial and other contractual obligations to us.
Our tenants are subject to the following risks, among others, relating to governmental healthcare reimbursement programs: statutory and regulatory changes; retroactive rate adjustments; recovery of program overpayments or set-offs; administrative rulings; policy interpretations; payment or other delays by fiscal intermediaries or carriers; government funding restrictions (at a program level or with respect to specific facilities); and interruption or delays in payments due to any ongoing governmental investigations and audits.
We expect healthcare reimbursement will continue to be a significant focus for federal and state authorities in their cost control efforts. We cannot predict the timing or effects of any future legislative reforms on our tenants’ business costs or government and other third-party payor reimbursement. More generally, because of the dynamic nature of the legislative and regulatory environment for health care products and services, and in light of existing federal budgetary concerns, we cannot predict the impact that broad-based, far-reaching legislative or regulatory changes could have on the U.S. economy, our business or that of our operators and tenants. The failure of any of our tenants to comply with these laws, requirements and regulations could materially and adversely affect their ability to meet their financial and contractual obligations to us.
Government investigations and enforcement actions brought against the health care industry have increased dramatically over the past several years and are expected to continue, particularly in the area of Medicare/Medicaid false claims, as well as an increase in the intensity of enforcement actions resulting from these investigations. Some of these enforcement actions represent novel legal theories and expansions in the application of the False Claims Act.
Medicare, Medicaid and other governmental health care payors require reporting of extensive financial information in a specific format or content. These requirements are technical and complex and may not be properly implemented by billing or reporting personnel. For certain required information, False Claims Act violations may occur without any intent to defraud by mere negligence or recklessness in information submission to the government. New billing systems, medical procedures and procedures for which there is not clear guidance may all result in liability. In addition, violations of the Anti-Kickback Law or Stark Law and, for provider tenants who received pandemic relief funds, the failure to comply with terms and conditions related to receipt or repayment of those funds, may form the basis for a federal False Claims Act violation. See “Government Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement,” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information.
Many states have adopted laws similar to the False Claims Act, some of which apply to claims submitted to private and commercial payors, not just governmental payors. Violations of such laws by an operator of a health care property could result in loss of accreditation, denial of reimbursement, imposition of fines, suspension or decertification from government healthcare programs, civil liability, and in certain limited instances, criminal penalties, loss of license or closure of the property and/or the incurrence of considerable costs arising from an investigation or regulatory action.
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If we or our tenants fail to adhere to applicable privacy and security laws, or experience a security incident or breach, this could have a material adverse effect on us or on our tenants’ ability to meet their obligations to us.
We and our tenants are subject to HIPAA and various other state and federal laws that relate to privacy, security and the reporting of data breaches involving personal information as discussed in “Government Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement - Privacy, Security and Data Breach Notification Laws” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Failure to comply with these requirements could have a materially adverse effect on us and the ability of our tenants to meet their obligations to us. Furthermore, the adoption of new privacy, security and data breach notification laws at the federal and state level could require us or our tenants to incur significant compliance costs.
While we and our tenants maintain various security controls, there is a risk of security incidents or breaches resulting from unintentional or deliberate acts by third parties or insiders attempting to obtain unauthorized access to information, destroy or manipulate data, or disrupt or sabotage information systems. The trend toward increased remote work and rapid implementation of telehealth within the health care industry in response to the pandemic may have created new or increased cyber risks. Cyber-attacks range from individual attempts to gain unauthorized access to our IT systems to sophisticated attacks by hacking groups and some nation-state actors. Information technology systems are a vital part of the business of our Company and our tenants, and a security incident or breach could result in a material loss of business, business interruption, loss of patient or other critical data, regulatory enforcement, substantial legal liability and reputational harm. Despite the deployment of commercially reasonable efforts and sophisticated techniques to prevent cyber-attacks, information systems remain potentially vulnerable because the techniques used by hackers continue to evolve and may not be identified until launched against a target, and may be designed not to be detected. In fact, some cyber-attacks may not be detected for an extended period of time. As a result, we or our tenants may be unsuccessful in implementing successful cybersecurity protections. A successful cyber-attack, security incident or breach occurring at or involving the Company could have a material adverse impact on our Company. Where the cyber-attack, incident or breach occurs at or involves a tenant, this could jeopardize the tenant’s ability to fulfill its obligations to us.
Tenants that fail to comply with federal, state and local licensure, certification and inspection laws and regulations may cease to operate our healthcare facilities or be unable to meet their financial and other contractual obligations to us.
The healthcare operators to whom we lease properties are subject to extensive federal, state, local and industry-related licensure, certification and inspection laws, regulations and standards. Our tenants’ failure to comply with any of these laws, regulations or standards could result in penalties which may include loss or restriction of license, loss of accreditation, denial of reimbursement, imposition of fines, suspension or decertification from federal and state healthcare programs, or closure of the facility. Though the regulatory environment in which SNFs operate is more restrictive than for ALFs, ALFs face similar penalties for noncompliance with applicable legal requirements. For example, operations at our properties may require a license, registration, certificate of need, provider agreement or certification. Failure of any tenant to obtain, or the loss or imposition of restrictions on any required license, registration, certificate of need, provider agreement or certification would prevent a facility from operating in the manner intended by such tenant. Additionally, failure of our tenants to generally comply with applicable laws and regulations could adversely affect facilities owned by us, result in adverse publicity and reputational harm, and therefore could materially and adversely affect us. See “Government Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement - Healthcare Licensure and Certificate of Need” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information.
Environmental compliance costs and liabilities may materially impair the value of properties owned by us.
Under various federal, state and local laws, ordinances and regulations, as a current or previous owner of real estate, we may be required to investigate and clean up certain hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum released at a property, and may be held liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for property damage and for investigation and cleanup costs incurred by the third parties in connection with the contamination. In addition, some environmental laws create a lien on the contaminated site in favor of the government for damages and the costs it incurs in connection with the contamination. Neither we nor our tenants carry environmental insurance on our properties. Contamination or the failure to remediate contamination may materially adversely affect our ability to sell or lease the real estate or to borrow using the real estate as collateral. As the owner of a site, we may also be held liable to third parties for damages and injuries resulting from environmental contamination emanating from the site. Although we generally require our tenants, as operators of our healthcare properties, to indemnify us for environmental liabilities they cause, such liabilities could exceed the financial ability of the tenant to indemnify us or the value of the contaminated property. We may also experience environmental liabilities arising from conditions not known to us.
Risks Related to Our Status as a REIT
If we fail to qualify or remain qualified as a REIT, we will be subject to U.S. federal income tax as a regular corporation and could face substantial tax liability, which could adversely affect our ability to raise capital or service our indebtedness.
We currently operate, and intend to continue to operate, in a manner that will allow us to continue to qualify to be taxed as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. We elected to be taxed as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes
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beginning with our taxable year ended December 31, 2014. We received an opinion of our counsel with respect to our qualification as a REIT in connection with the Spin-Off. Investors should be aware, however, that opinions of advisors are not binding on the IRS or any court. The opinion of our counsel represents only the view of our counsel based on its review and analysis of existing law and on certain representations as to factual matters and covenants made by us, including representations relating to the values of our assets and the sources of our income. The opinion is expressed as of the date issued. Our counsel has no obligation to advise us or the holders of any of our securities of any subsequent change in the matters stated, represented or assumed or of any subsequent change in applicable law. Furthermore, both the validity of the opinion of our counsel and our qualification as a REIT will depend on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, stockholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis, the results of which will not be monitored by our counsel. Our ability to satisfy the asset tests depends upon our analysis of the characterization and fair market values of our assets, some of which are not susceptible to a precise determination, and for which we will not obtain independent appraisals.
If we fail to qualify to be taxed as a REIT in any year, we would be subject to U.S. federal income tax, including any applicable alternative minimum tax, on our taxable income at regular corporate rates, and dividends paid to our stockholders would not be deductible by us in computing our taxable income. Any resulting corporate liability could be substantial and would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our stockholders, which could have an adverse impact on the value of our common stock. Unless we were entitled to relief under certain Code provisions, we also would be disqualified from re-electing to be taxed as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year in which we failed to qualify to be taxed as a REIT, which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Legislative or other actions affecting REITs could have a negative effect on us.
The rules dealing with U.S. federal income taxation are constantly under review by persons involved in the legislative process and by the IRS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (the “Treasury”). Changes to the tax laws or interpretations thereof, with or without retroactive application, could materially and adversely affect our investors or us. We cannot predict how changes in the tax laws, including any tax reform called for by the new presidential administration, might affect our investors or us. New legislation, Treasury regulations, administrative interpretations or court decisions could significantly and negatively affect our ability to qualify to be taxed as a REIT or the U.S. federal income tax consequences to our investors and us of such qualification. For instance, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (the “Act”) significantly changed the U.S. federal income tax laws applicable to businesses and their owners, including REITs and their shareholders. Technical corrections or other amendments to the Act or administrative guidance interpreting the Act may be forthcoming at any time. We cannot predict the long-term effect of the Act or any future law changes on REITs or their shareholders. Changes to the U.S. federal tax laws and interpretations thereof, whether under the Act or otherwise, could adversely affect an investment in our stock
No prediction can be made regarding whether new legislation or regulation (including new tax measures) will be enacted by legislative bodies or governmental agencies, nor can we predict what consequences would result from this legislation or regulation. Accordingly, no assurance can be given that the currently anticipated tax treatment of an investment will not be modified by legislative, judicial or administrative changes, possibly with retroactive effect.
We could fail to qualify to be taxed as a REIT if income we receive from our tenants is not treated as qualifying income.
Under applicable provisions of the Code, we will not be treated as a REIT unless we satisfy various requirements, including requirements relating to the sources of our gross income. Rents received or accrued by us from our tenants will not be treated as qualifying rent for purposes of these requirements if the leases are not respected as true leases for U.S. federal income tax purposes and are instead treated as service contracts, joint ventures or arrangement. If the leases are not respected as true leases for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we will likely fail to qualify to be taxed as a REIT.
In addition, subject to certain exceptions, rents received or accrued by us from our tenants will not be treated as qualifying rent for purposes of these requirements if we or a beneficial or constructive owner of 10% or more of our stock beneficially or constructively owns 10% or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote or 10% or more of the total value of all classes of stock. CareTrust REIT’s charter provides for restrictions on ownership and transfer of CareTrust REIT’s shares of stock, including restrictions on such ownership or transfer that would cause the rents received or accrued by us from our tenants to be treated as non-qualifying rent for purposes of the REIT gross income requirements. Nevertheless, there can be no assurance that such restrictions will be effective in ensuring that rents received or accrued by us from our tenants will not be treated as qualifying rent for purposes of REIT qualification requirements.
Dividends payable by REITs do not qualify for the reduced tax rates available for some dividends.
The maximum U.S. federal income tax rate applicable to income from “qualified dividends” payable by U.S. corporations to U.S. stockholders that are individuals, trusts and estates is currently 20%. Dividends payable by REITs, however, generally are not eligible for the reduced rates. However, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, under the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, noncorporate taxpayers may deduct up to 20% of certain qualified business income, including "qualified REIT dividends" (generally, dividends received by a REIT shareholder that are not
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designated as capital gain dividends or qualified dividend income), subject to certain limitations, resulting in an effective maximum U.S. federal income tax rate of 29.6% on such income.  Although these rules do not adversely affect the taxation of REITs, the more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate qualified dividends, together with the recently reduced corporate tax rate (currently, 21%), could cause investors who are individuals, trusts and estates to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the stock of REITs, including our stock. Although these rules do not adversely affect the taxation of REITs, the more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate qualified dividends could cause investors who are individuals, trusts and estates to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could adversely affect the value of the stock of REITs, including our stock.
REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan.
We generally must distribute annually at least 90% of our REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction and excluding any net capital gains, in order for us to qualify to be taxed as a REIT (assuming that certain other requirements are also satisfied) so that U.S. federal corporate income tax does not apply to earnings that we distribute. To the extent that we satisfy this distribution requirement and qualify for taxation as a REIT but distribute less than 100% of our REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction and including any net capital gains, we will be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on our undistributed net taxable income. In addition, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we distribute to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under U.S. federal income tax laws. We intend to make distributions to our stockholders to comply with the REIT requirements of the Code.
Our funds from operations are generated primarily by rents paid under leases with our tenants. From time to time, we may generate taxable income greater than our cash flow as a result of differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash or the effect of nondeductible capital expenditures, the creation of reserves or required debt or amortization payments. If we do not have other funds available in these situations, we could be required to borrow funds on unfavorable terms, sell assets at disadvantageous prices or distribute amounts that would otherwise be invested in future acquisitions in order to make distributions sufficient to enable us to pay out enough of our taxable income to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and to avoid being subject to corporate income tax and the 4% excise tax in a particular year. These alternatives could increase our costs or reduce our equity.
Even if we remain qualified as a REIT, we may face other tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow.
Even if we remain qualified for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain U.S. federal, state, and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income and state or local income, property and transfer taxes. For example, we may hold some of our assets or conduct certain of our activities through one or more taxable REIT subsidiaries (each, a “TRS”) or other subsidiary corporations that will be subject to U.S. federal, state, and local corporate-level income taxes as regular C corporations. In addition, we may incur a 100% excise tax on transactions with a TRS if they are not conducted on an arm’s-length basis. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forgo otherwise attractive acquisition opportunities or liquidate otherwise attractive investments.
To qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must on an ongoing basis satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts we distribute to our stockholders and the ownership of our shares of beneficial interest. We may be required to make distributions to our stockholders at disadvantageous times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to make certain attractive investments.
Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.
The REIT provisions of the Code substantially limit our ability to hedge our assets and liabilities. Income from certain hedging transactions that we may enter into to manage risk of interest rate changes with respect to borrowings made or to be made to acquire or carry real estate assets does not constitute “gross income” for purposes of the 75% or 95% gross income tests that apply to REITs, provided that certain identification requirements are met. For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015, income from new transactions entered into to hedge the income or loss from prior hedging transactions, where the indebtedness or property which was the subject of the prior hedging transaction was extinguished or disposed of, will not constitute gross income for purposes of the 75% or 95% gross income tests. To the extent that we enter into other types of hedging transactions or fail to properly identify such transaction as a hedge, the income is likely to be treated as non-qualifying income for purposes of both of the gross income tests. As a result of these rules, we may be required to limit our use of advantageous hedging techniques or implement those hedges through a TRS. This could increase the cost of our hedging activities because the TRS may be subject to tax on gains or expose us to greater risks associated with changes in interest rates
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than we would otherwise want to bear. In addition, losses in the TRS will generally not provide any tax benefit, except that such losses could theoretically be carried back or forward against past or future taxable income in the TRS.
Risks Related to Our Capital Resources and Indebtedness
From time to time, we may have substantial indebtedness and we are able to incur significant additional indebtedness.
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $550.0 million of indebtedness, consisting of $300.0 million representing our 5.25% Senior Notes due 2025 (the “Notes”), $200.0 million under our unsecured term loan credit facility (the “Term Loan”) and $50.0 million in borrowings outstanding under our unsecured revolving credit facility (the “New Revolving Facility”). High levels of indebtedness could have one or more of the following adverse consequences, among others: require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to make principal and interest payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing our cash flow available to fund working capital, dividends, capital expenditures and acquisitions and other general corporate purposes; require us to maintain certain debt coverage and other financial ratios at specified levels, thereby reducing our financial flexibility; make it more difficult for us to satisfy our financial obligations, including the Notes and borrowings under the Amended Credit Facility (as defined below); increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions or a downturn in our business; limit, along with the financial and other restrictive covenants in our indebtedness, our ability to borrow additional funds on favorable terms or at all to expand our business or ease liquidity constraints; limit our ability to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity on the same or more favorable terms or at all; and require us to dispose of one or more of our properties at disadvantageous prices in order to service our indebtedness or to raise funds to pay such indebtedness at maturity.
In addition, failure to satisfy our obligations under the Notes or our other debt or to comply with the financial and other restrictive covenants contained in the indenture governing the Notes or the Amended Credit Agreement (as defined below), could result in an event of default, which could result in all of our debt becoming immediately due and payable and permit certain of our lenders to foreclose on our assets securing such debt. Further, our Amended Credit Agreement and the indenture governing the Notes permit us to incur substantial additional debt, including secured debt, subject to our compliance with certain financial covenants set forth in the Amended Credit Agreement and the indenture governing the Notes. See “Risk Factors - Risks Related to Our Capital Resources and Indebtedness - Covenants in our debt agreements restrict our activities and could adversely affect our business” for a summary of these covenants.
We may be unable to service our indebtedness.
Our ability to make scheduled payments on and to refinance our indebtedness depends on and is subject to our future financial and operating performance, which in turn is affected by general and regional economic, financial, competitive, business and other factors beyond our control, including the availability of financing in the international banking and capital markets. Our business may fail to generate sufficient cash flow from operations or future borrowings may be unavailable to us under the Amended Credit Facility or from other sources in an amount sufficient to enable us to service our debt, to refinance our debt or to fund our other liquidity needs. If we are unable to meet our debt obligations or to fund our other liquidity needs, we will need to restructure or refinance all or a portion of our debt. We may be unable to refinance such debt on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we were unable to make payments or refinance our debt or obtain new financing under these circumstances, we would have to consider other options, such as asset sales, equity issuances and/or negotiations with our lenders to restructure such debt. The Amended Credit Agreement and the indenture governing the Notes restrict, and market or business conditions may limit our ability to take these actions. Any debt restructuring or refinancing could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants that could further restrict our business operations.
We rely on our subsidiaries for our operating funds.
We conduct our operations through subsidiaries and depend on our subsidiaries for the funds necessary to operate and repay our debt obligations, including funds transfers to us which are necessary to make the payments due under the Notes. While all of our subsidiaries are currently guarantors of the Notes, under certain circumstances, one or more of our subsidiaries may be released from, or may not be required to provide, a guarantee of the Notes, and in such circumstances, will not be responsible for any obligations with respect to the Notes. Each of our subsidiaries is a distinct legal entity and has no obligation, contingent or otherwise, to transfer funds to us. In addition, the ability of our subsidiaries to transfer funds to us could be restricted by the terms of subsequent financings.
Covenants in our debt agreements restrict our activities and could adversely affect our business.
Our debt agreements contain covenants that limit our and our subsidiaries’ ability to engage in various transactions including, as applicable: incurring or guaranteeing additional secured and unsecured debt; creating liens on our and our subsidiaries’ assets; paying dividends or making other distributions on, redeeming or repurchasing capital stock; making investments or other restricted payments; entering into transactions with affiliates; issuing stock of or interests in subsidiaries; engaging in non-healthcare related business activities; creating restrictions on the ability of our subsidiaries to pay distributions
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or other amounts to us; selling assets; effecting a consolidation or merger or selling all or substantially all of our assets; making acquisitions; and amending certain material agreements, including material leases and debt agreements.
These covenants limit our operational flexibility and could prevent us from taking advantage of business opportunities as they arise, growing our business or competing effectively. The Amended Credit Agreement requires us to comply with financial maintenance covenants to be tested quarterly and also contains customary events of default, including the failure to make timely payments under the Amended Credit Facility or other material indebtedness, failure to satisfy certain covenants (including financial maintenance covenants), the occurrence of change of control and specified events of bankruptcy and insolvency. We also must maintain total unencumbered assets of at least 150% of our unsecured indebtedness under the indenture governing the Notes. Our ability to meet these requirements may be affected by events beyond our control and, if we fail to do so, we may be unable to obtain waivers from the lenders or amend the covenants.
Increases in interest rates could increase our existing and future debt borrowing costs and adversely affect our stock price.
Certain of our existing debt obligations require interest and related payments to vary with the movement of certain indices, and we may incur additional indebtedness in connection with new credit facilities or financing of acquisitions or development activities. Increased interest rates would increase our interest costs for any new debt and our obligations under our New Revolving Facility and Term Loan, which could make acquisition financings more costly or lower our current period earnings. Rising interest rates could limit our ability to refinance existing debt when it matures or cause us to pay higher interest rates upon refinancing. In addition, interest rate increases could decrease credit access globally, thereby decreasing the amount others are willing to pay for our assets and limiting our ability to reposition our portfolio promptly in response to changes in economic or other conditions. Further, the dividend yield on our common stock, as a percentage of the price of such common stock, will influence the price of such common stock. Thus, an increase in market interest rates may lead prospective purchasers of our common stock to expect a higher dividend yield, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Our Amended Credit Agreement uses LIBOR as a reference rate for our Term Loan and Revolving Facility, such that the interest rate applicable to such loans may, at our option, be calculated based on LIBOR. In July 2017, the U. K.’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. In the U.S., it is anticipated that publication of 1-week and 2-month U.S. dollar LIBOR will end on December 31, 2021, with all other U.S. dollar LIBOR tenors ceasing on June 30, 2023. The U.S. Federal Reserve has begun publishing a Secured Overnight Funding Rate (“SOFR”), which is intended to replace U.S. dollar LIBOR, and has proposed a paced market transition plan to SOFR from LIBOR. Organizations are currently working on industry wide and company specific transition plans as it relates to financial and other derivative contracts exposed to LIBOR. Additionally, plans for alternative reference rates for other currencies have also been announced. From time to time, we have material borrowings under our Amended Credit Agreement that are indexed to LIBOR.  We cannot predict how markets will respond to these proposed alternative rates or the effect of any changes to LIBOR or the discontinuation of LIBOR. However, if future rates based upon a successor reference rate such as SOFR (or a new method of calculating LIBOR) are higher than LIBOR rates as currently determined or if our lenders have increased costs due to changes in LIBOR, we may experience increases in interest rates on our variable rate debt, which could adversely impact our interest expense, results of operations and cash flows.
A credit rating downgrade could impair our ability to obtain additional debt financing on favorable terms, if at all, and significantly reduce the trading price of our common stock.
Our credit rating can affect the amount, type and terms of capital financings we obtain. Factors affecting our credit rating include, among others, our financial performance, success in raising sufficient equity capital, adverse changes in our debt and fixed charge coverage ratios, our capital structure, level of indebtedness and future changes in the regulatory framework applicable to our operators and industry. We may be unable to maintain our current credit ratings, and in the event that our current credit ratings deteriorate, a ratings agency downgrades our credit rating or places our rating under watch or review for possible downgrade, we would likely incur higher borrowing costs, which would make it more difficult or expensive to obtain additional financing or refinance existing obligations and commitments and the trading price of our common stock may decline.
Risks Related To Our Common Stock and Organizational Documents
Our charter restricts the ownership and transfer of our outstanding stock, which may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a transaction or change of control of our company.
In order for us to qualify to be taxed as a REIT, not more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares of stock may be owned, beneficially or constructively, by five or fewer individuals at any time during the last half of each taxable year after our first taxable year as a REIT. Additionally, at least 100 persons must beneficially own our stock during at least 335 days of a taxable year (other than our first taxable year as a REIT). Our charter, with certain exceptions, authorizes our board of directors to take such actions as are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. Our charter also provides that, unless exempted by the board of directors, no person may own more than 9.8% in value or in number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of the outstanding shares of our common stock, or more than 9.8% in value of the outstanding shares of all classes or
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series of our stock. The constructive ownership rules are complex and may cause shares of stock owned directly or constructively by a group of related individuals or entities to be constructively owned by one individual or entity. These ownership limits could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in control of us that might involve a premium price for shares of our stock or otherwise be in our stockholders’ best interests. The acquisition of less than 9.8% of our outstanding stock by an individual or entity could cause that individual or entity to own constructively in excess of 9.8% in value of our outstanding stock, and thus violate our charter’s ownership limit. Our charter also prohibits any person from owning shares of our stock that would result in our being “closely held” under Section 856(h) of the Code or otherwise cause us to fail to qualify to be taxed as a REIT. In addition, our charter provides that (i) no person shall beneficially or constructively own shares of stock to the extent such beneficial or constructive ownership of stock would result in us failing to qualify as a “domestically controlled qualified investment entity” within the meaning of Section 897(h) of the Code, and (ii) no person shall beneficially or constructively own shares of stock to the extent such beneficial or constructive ownership would cause us to own, beneficially or constructively, more than a 9.9% interest (as set forth in Section 856(d)(2)(B) of the Code) in a tenant of our real property. Any attempt to own or transfer shares of our stock in violation of these restrictions may result in the transfer being automatically void.
Maryland law and provisions in our charter and bylaws may inhibit our stockholders from realizing a premium on their stock by delaying or preventing takeover attempts by third parties.
Our charter, bylaws and Maryland law contain provisions intended to deter coercive takeovers and inadequate takeover bids and to encourage prospective acquirors to negotiate with our board of directors rather than to attempt a hostile takeover. As currently in effect, our charter and bylaws, among other things, (1) contain transfer and ownership restrictions on the percentage by number and value of outstanding shares of our stock that may be owned or acquired by any stockholder; (2) prohibit stockholders action by non-unanimous written consent; (3) permit the board of directors, without further action of the stockholders, to amend the charter to increase or decrease the aggregate number of authorized shares or the number of shares of any class or series that may be issued; (4) permit the board of directors to classify or reclassify any unissued shares of common or preferred stock and set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares; (5) establish certain advance notice procedures for stockholder proposals, and provide procedures for the nomination of candidates for our board of directors; (6) provide that special meetings of stockholders may only be called by the Company or upon written request of 25% of all the votes entitled to be cast at such meeting; (7) provide that a director may only be removed by stockholders for cause and upon the vote of two-thirds of the outstanding shares of common stock; and (8) require supermajority approval to amend or repeal certain charter provisions. In addition, specific anti-takeover provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law (“MGCL”) could make it more difficult for a third party to attempt a hostile takeover, including:
“business combination” provisions that, subject to limitations, prohibit certain business combinations between us and an “interested stockholder” (defined generally as any person who beneficially owns 10% or more of the voting power of our shares or an affiliate thereof) for five years after the most recent date on which the stockholder becomes an interested stockholder, and thereafter impose special appraisal rights and special stockholder voting requirements on these combinations; and
“control share” provisions that provide that “control shares” of our company (defined as shares which, when aggregated with other shares controlled by the stockholder, entitle the stockholder to exercise one of three increasing ranges of voting power in electing directors) acquired in a “control share acquisition” (defined as the direct or indirect acquisition of ownership or control of “control shares”) have no voting rights except to the extent approved by our stockholders by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of all the votes entitled to be cast on the matter, excluding all interested shares.
We believe these provisions protect our stockholders from coercive or unfair takeover tactics by requiring potential acquirors to negotiate with our board of directors and by providing our board of directors with more time to assess any acquisition proposal. These provisions are not intended to prevent all takeovers, but they may delay, defer or prevent a change of control transaction even if such transaction involves a premium price for our common stock or our stockholders it is in their best interests. These provisions may also prevent or discourage attempts to remove and replace incumbent directors.
Our bylaws provide that the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland will be the sole and exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.
Our bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland is the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of us, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the MGCL, or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine, and any of our record or beneficial stockholders who commences such an action shall cooperate in a request that the action be assigned to the Court’s Business & Technology Case Management Program. This exclusive forum provision is intended to apply to claims arising under the MGCL and would not apply to claims brought pursuant to the Exchange Act of
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1934 or Securities Act of 1933, each as amended, or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. The exclusive forum provision in our bylaws will not relieve us of our duties to comply with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder, and our stockholders will not be deemed to have waived our compliance with these laws, rules and regulations.
This exclusive forum provision may limit a stockholder's ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum of its choosing for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees. In addition, stockholders who do bring a claim in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland could face additional litigation costs in pursuing any such claim, particularly if they do not reside in or near Maryland. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments or results may be more favorable to us than to our stockholders. However, the enforceability of similar exclusive forum provisions in other companies' certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that a court could find this type of provision and/or the jurisdictional limitation contained therein to be inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings. If a court were to find the exclusive forum provision contained in our bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we might incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions.
General Risk Factors
We rely on information technology in our operations, and any material failure, inadequacy, interruption or security failure of that technology could harm our business.
We rely on information technology networks and systems, including the internet, to process, transmit and store electronic information, and to manage or support our business processes, including financial transactions and records, and maintaining personal information and tenant and lease data. We purchase some of our information technology from vendors, on whom our systems depend. We rely on commercially available systems, software, tools and monitoring to provide security for the processing, transmission and storage of confidential tenant and customer data, including financial account information. Although we have taken steps to protect the security of our information systems, we have, from time to time, experienced threats to our data and systems, including malware and computer virus attacks and it is possible that in the future our safety and security measures will not prevent the systems’ improper functioning or damage, or the improper access or disclosure of personally identifiable information such as in the event of cyber-attacks. In addition, due to the fast pace and unpredictability of cyber threats, long-term implementation plans designed to address cybersecurity risks become obsolete quickly.
Security breaches, including physical or electronic break-ins, computer viruses, malware, works, attacks by hackers or foreign governments, disruptions from unauthorized access and tampering (including through social engineering such as phishing attacks), coordinated denial-of-service attacks, impersonation of authorized users and similar breaches, can create system disruptions, shutdowns or result in a loss of company assets or unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. The risk of security breaches has generally increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. In some cases, it may be difficult to anticipate or immediately detect such incidents and the damage they cause. In addition, our technology infrastructure and information systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, power loss and telecommunications failures. Failure to maintain proper function, security and availability of our information systems and the data maintained in those systems could interrupt our operations, damage our reputation, subject us to liability claims or regulatory penalties and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have and may in the future incur impairment charges, which could negatively impact our results of operations.
At each reporting period, we evaluate our real estate investments and other assets for impairment indicators whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable. The existence of impairment indicators is based on factors such as market conditions, operator performance and legal structure. If we determine that an impairment has occurred, we are required to adjust the net carrying value of the asset, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations in the period in which the write-off occurs. For example, in the three months ended September 30, 2019, we recorded impairment charges of approximately $16.7 million, resulting in a net loss of $10.1 million for the quarter. Such impairment charges may make it more difficult for us to meet the financial ratios in our Amended Credit Agreement and may reduce the borrowing base available to us under our Revolving Facility, which may reduce the amounts of cash we would otherwise have available to pay expenses, service other indebtedness and operate our business.
Environmental, social and governance matters may cause us to incur additional costs, make personnel changes, and affect the attractiveness of our stock to investors.
Shareholder, public and governmental expectations have been increasing with respect to corporate responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion and related environmental, social and governance (collectively “ESG”) matters. Shareholder advisory services and other organizations have developed and publish, and others may in the future develop and
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publish, rating systems and other scoring and reporting mechanisms to evaluate and compare the ESG performance of our Company and others. These ratings systems frequently change, and scores are often based on a relative ranking which may cause a company’s score to deteriorate if peer companies’ rankings improve. Keeping up with such changes may divert management’s time and attention from other business priorities. In addition, current shareholders and prospective investors may use these ratings and/or their own internal ESG benchmarks to determine whether and to what extent they may choose to invest in our securities, engage with us to advocate for improved ESG performance or disclosure, make voting decisions as shareholders, or take other actions to hold us and our board of directors accountable with respect to ESG matters.
Some legislatures, government agencies and listing exchanges have mandated or proposed, and others may in the future further mandate, certain ESG disclosure or performance. For example, board diversity and inclusion is an ESG topic that is receiving heightened attention from lawmakers and listing exchanges. The State of California, where we currently maintain our principal executive offices, has enacted laws requiring companies to meet stated gender and diversity requirements on their boards of directors by specific deadlines. In addition, the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, where our common stock is currently listed, has filed a proposal with the SEC that, if approved, would require most Nasdaq-listed companies to meet specified board diversity requirements within a defined compliance period and face potential delisting if they do not explain any failure to meet the requirements. If we are unable to recruit, attract and/or retain qualified members of our board of directors to maintain compliance with the diversity requirements of applicable mandates within the prescribed timelines, we could be exposed to costly fines and penalties. We may also face reputational damage in the event our corporate responsibility initiatives or objectives, including with respect to board diversity, do not meet the standards or expectations of shareholders, prospective investors, lawmakers, listing exchanges or other constituencies, or if we are unable to achieve acceptable ESG ratings from third party rating services. Failure to comply with ESG-related laws, exchange policies or stakeholder expectations could materially and adversely impact the value of our stock and related cost of capital, and limit our ability to fund future growth.
We cannot assure you of our ability to pay dividends in the future.
We expect to make quarterly dividend payments in cash with the annual dividend amount no less than 90% of our annual REIT taxable income, determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction and excluding any net capital gains. Our ability to pay dividends may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including the risk factors described in this annual report. Dividends are authorized by our board of directors and declared by us based upon a number of factors, including but not limited to actual results of operations, restrictions under Maryland law or applicable debt covenants, our financial condition, our taxable income, the annual distribution requirements under the REIT provisions of the Code and our operating expenses. There is no assurance that our operating results will allow for specified levels of cash dividends or year-to-year increases in the future.
Furthermore, while we are required to pay dividends in order to maintain our REIT status (as described under “Risks Related to Our Status as a REIT - REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan”), we may elect not to maintain our REIT status and discontinue paying dividends. Even if we do elect to maintain our REIT status, after completing various procedural steps, we may elect to comply with the applicable distribution requirements by distributing, under certain circumstances, a portion of the required amount in the form of shares of our common stock in lieu of cash. Either of these actions could negatively affect our business and financial condition as well as the market price of our common stock.
ITEM 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
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ITEM 2. Properties

As of December 31, 2020, all of our properties are leased under long-term, triple-net leases. The following table displays the expiration of the annualized contractual cash rental income under our lease agreements as of December 31, 2020 by year and total investment (dollars in thousands) and, in each case, without giving effect to any renewal or purchase options:

Lease
MaturityPercent of TotalPercent of
Year
Investment(1)
Investment
Rent(1)
Total Rent
2026$58,157 3.3 %$5,241 3.0 %
202746,801 2.6 %4,897 2.8 %
202868,193 3.8 %7,573 4.4 %
2029114,040 6.4 %8,624 5.0 %
2030207,160 11.6 %18,925 10.9 %
2031558,768 31.3 %53,356 30.8 %
2032200,931 11.2 %19,495 11.2 %
2033214,247 12.0 %23,147 13.3 %
2034318,373 17.8 %32,173 18.6 %
Total$1,786,670 100.0 %$173,431 100.0 %
 (1)    Amounts exclude our one mezzanine loan receivable and properties classified as held for sale as of December 31, 2020.
See the “Tenant Purchase Options” section of Note 3, Real Estate Investments, Net in the Notes to consolidated financial statements for additional information on leases subject to purchase options.
The information set forth under “Portfolio Summary” in Item 1 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K is incorporated by reference herein.
ITEM  3.    Legal Proceedings
The Company and its subsidiaries are and may become from time to time a party to various claims and lawsuits arising in the ordinary course of business, but none of the Company or any of its subsidiaries is, and none of their respective properties are, the subject of any material legal proceedings. Claims and lawsuits may include matters involving general or professional liability asserted against our tenants, which are the responsibility of our tenants and for which we are entitled to be indemnified by our tenants under the insurance and indemnification provisions in the applicable leases.
ITEM  4.    Mine Safety Disclosures
None.
PART II
ITEM  5.    Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of
Common Equity
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “CTRE.”
At February 9, 2021, we had approximately 43 stockholders of record.

To maintain REIT status, we are required each year to distribute to stockholders at least 90% of our annual REIT taxable income after certain adjustments. All distributions will be made by us at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our financial position, results of operations, cash flows, capital requirements, debt covenants (which include limits on distributions by us), applicable law, and other factors as our board of directors deems relevant. For example, while the Notes and our Amended Credit Agreement permit us to declare and pay any dividend or make any distribution that is necessary to maintain our REIT status, those distributions are subject to certain financial tests under the indenture governing the Notes, and therefore, the amount of cash distributions we can make to our stockholders may be limited.

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Distributions with respect to our common stock can be characterized for federal income tax purposes as taxable ordinary dividends, nondividend distributions or a combination thereof. Following is the characterization of our annual cash dividends on common stock:
 
Year Ended December 31,
Common Stock20202019
Ordinary dividend$0.6435 $0.8120 
Non-dividend distributions0.1065 0.0880 
Total taxable distribution0.7500 0.9000 
Distributions allocated to subsequent tax year(1)
0.2500 — 
Total distributions declared$1.0000 $0.9000 
(1) Because our aggregate 2020 cash distributions exceeded our 2020 earnings and profits, the cash distribution declared in the fourth quarter of 2020 and paid in January 2021, of $0.25 per share, will be treated as a 2021 distribution for federal income tax purposes.
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities

During the three months ended December 31, 2020, we acquired shares of our common stock held by an employee who tendered shares to satisfy tax withholding obligations upon the vesting of previously issued restricted stock awards. Specifically, the number of shares of common stock acquired from the employee and the average prices paid per share for each month in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2020 are as follows:
PeriodTotal Number of Shares PurchasedAverage Price Paid per Share
October 1 - October 31, 2020533 $17.10 
November 1 - November 30, 2020— $— 
December 1 - December 31, 2020— $— 
Total533 $17.10 
On March 20, 2020, our board of directors authorized a share repurchase program to repurchase up to $150.0 million of outstanding shares of our common stock (the “Repurchase Program”). Repurchases under the Repurchase Program, which expires on March 31, 2023, may be made through open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, structured or derivative transactions, including accelerated share repurchase transactions, or other methods of acquiring shares, in each case subject to market conditions and at such times as shall be permitted by applicable securities laws and determined by management. Repurchases under the Repurchase Program may also be made pursuant to a plan adopted under Rule 10b5-1 promulgated under the Exchange Act. We expect to finance any share repurchases under the Repurchase Program using available cash and may also use short-term borrowings under the Revolving Facility. We did not repurchase any shares of common stock under the Repurchase Program during the year ended December 31, 2020. The Repurchase Program may be modified, discontinued or suspended at any time.
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Stock Price Performance Graph
The graph below compares the cumulative total return of our common stock, the S&P 500 Index, the S&P 500 REIT Index, the RMS (MSCI U.S. REIT Total Return Index) and the SNL U.S. REIT Healthcare Index for the period from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2020. Total cumulative return is based on a $100 investment in CareTrust REIT common stock and in each of the indices at the market close on December 31, 2015 and assumes quarterly reinvestment of dividends before consideration of income taxes. Stockholder returns over the indicated periods should not be considered indicative of future stock prices or stockholder returns.
 COMPARISON OF CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN
AMONG S&P 500, S&P 500 REIT INDEX, RMS, SNL US REIT HEALTHCARE AND CARETRUST REIT, INC.
RATE OF RETURN TREND COMPARISON
DECEMBER 31, 2015 - DECEMBER 31, 2020
(DECEMBER 31, 2015 = $100)
Stock Price Performance Graph Total Return
The stock performance graph shall not be deemed soliciting material or to be filed with the SEC or subject to Regulation 14A or 14C under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) or to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, nor shall it be incorporated by reference into any past or future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Exchange Act, except to the extent we specifically request that it be treated as soliciting material or specifically incorporate it by reference into a filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Exchange Act
ctre-20201231_g1.jpg
December 31,
201520162017201820192020
CareTrust REIT Inc.$100.00 $146.86 $167.48 $193.93 $225.46 $256.27 
S&P 500$100.00 $111.96 $136.40 $130.42 $171.49 $203.04 
RMS$100.00 $108.60 $114.11 $108.89 $137.03 $126.65 
SNL US REIT Healthcare$100.00 $105.24 $106.44 $114.12 $138.67 $129.69 
S&P 500 Real Estate$100.00 $103.39 $114.61 $112.06 $144.58 $141.44 
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ITEM 6.    Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth selected financial data and other data for our company on a historical basis. The following data should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto and Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical operating results may not be comparable to our future operating results. The comparability of the selected financial data presented below is significantly affected by our acquisitions and new investments in each of the years presented. See Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
 
 
As of or For the Year Ended December 31, 
 20202019201820172016
(dollars in thousands, except per share amounts)
Income statement data: