Defaulting Tenant Not Liable for Unpaid Rent Beyond Lease Term
What Happened: A construction materials tenant that admitted to not paying rent and abandoning the premises had no problem with the default judgment entered in the landlord’s favor but claimed that the sought-after award of 47 months’ rent was excessive, noting that the lease clearly defined its “Term” as: “Commencing on the ‘Commencement Date,’. . , and ending Thirty-Seven (37) months thereafter.” However, the court agreed with the landlord’s interpretation that the actual term was 47 months based on a lease attachment giving the tenant an “early termination option” after month 37. After all, the early termination option would be meaningless if the lease was due to expire after 37 months.
Ruling: The Texas appeals court reversed, finding that the lease term was 37, not 47 months.
Reasoning: The landlord’s interpretation of the term lasting 47 months “requires us to completely ignore, override, and void the plain language. . . stating the lease term is 37 months,” the court reasoned. Besides, the early termination option after month 37 wouldn’t have been meaningless had the lease been renewed. In awarding the landlord unpaid rent beyond the actual term of the lease, the trial court abused its discretion.
- Greenworld Constr. Materials & Servs. USA, LLC v. C & T P'ship, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 6102, 2023 WL 5192158