Tenant Doesn't Get Refund of Rent Paid During COVID Shutdown
What Happened: A fitness center asked its landlord to refund the rent it paid during the 15 weeks that it couldn’t operate because government COVID-19 shutdown orders were in effect. The landlord refused. So, the tenant sued. Both sides moved for summary judgment—that is, a ruling on the merits of the case without a trial. The court granted the landlord’s motion and denied the tenant’s.
Ruling: The Florida appeals court rejected the tenant’s appeal.
Reasoning: The tenant made four arguments for COVID rent relief, all of which the court shot down:
- Nothing in the lease could be read as a warranty or guarantee by the landlord that the tenant would be able to use the premises as a health club without risk of government restrictions;
- The lease force majeure clause didn’t apply because the government COVID restrictions didn’t prevent the tenant from performing its obligation to pay rent;
- Impracticability/impossibility didn’t apply because the shutdown orders didn’t make it impossible or impracticable for the tenant to pay rent—in fact, the tenant did pay rent while the orders were in effect; and
- Frustration of purpose wasn’t a viable theory because the frustration the tenant experienced in not being able to run its business was the result of government and not the landlord’s actions.
- Fitness Int’l v. 93 Flrpt, 2023 Fla. App. LEXIS 3126, 2023 WL 3325986