Email Doesn’t Prove Landlord Let Doctor Out of Office Lease
What Happened: A doctor had a longstanding personal relationship with one of the principles of the company from which he leased office space. In 2019, after contemplating retirement, he reluctantly re-upped for another five years. And then the pandemic hit. Unable to see patients in his office, he decided the time had come to retire. So, he stopped paying rent and asked the landlord to let him out of his lease. He also thought his old friend had agreed to cut him a break. But the lawsuit for rent nonpayment shattered his complacency.
Ruling: The New York court awarded summary judgment to the landlord and ordered the doctor to pay $34,360 in back rent.
Reasoning: The doctor never asked, let alone succeeded in getting the landlord to sign a formal written surrender agreement. The only evidence of an oral agreement was an email thread in which the doctor’s friend at the landlord company expressed hopes of finding a new tenant to mitigate the company’s damages. That wasn’t enough to void the lease, reasoned the court, especially since the doctor did sign the renewal agreement and “freely admitted” (without seeking to make any COVID-related or other excuses) that he stopped trying to run his practice and pay his rent.
- 352 Acquisition Co. v. Martinez, 2021 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1851, 2021 NY Slip Op 31273(U)