Recent Court Rulings

Leasing Mall Space to Medical Clinic Violates Landlord’s Duty to Operate Retail Establishment

July 21, 2021    

What Happened: A shopping center lease gave a fabric and crafting suppliers tenant the right to pay a lower substitute rent if the landlord violated its obligation to run the center as a “first-class retail project.” The problem began when the landlord leased space...

Contractor's Lien Against Tenant Doesn't Reach Landlord

July 21, 2021    

What Happened: A restaurant tenant hired a contractor to install kitchen equipment in its leased space. The tenant paid only $60,000 of the contractor’s $274,000 bill. So, the contractor placed a lien on the space to secure the balance. And since the tenant had since been...

Court Nixes Tenant's $3M Racial Discrimination Case Against Landlord

July 21, 2021    

What Happened: For the first six months of the lease, an African-American owner of a day spa had a “great” and “courteous” relationship with her landlord. But then came the middle-of-the-night call the landlord received from the Sheriff’s Office...

Tenant Took Too Long to Exercise Purchase Option

June 17, 2021    

What Happened: After evicting a liquor store tenant, a landlord sued for immediate possession of the property. But the tenant didn’t want to leave and offered to buy the property, citing the following option in the lease:

Tenant has option...

Retail Tenant Gets Temporary Force Majeure Reprieve from Eviction

June 17, 2021    

What Happened: A clothing retailer cited the force majeure clause in its leases as an excuse for not paying rent during the COVID-19 shutdown months of April and May 2020. Not so fast, responded the landlord, noting that the clause:

Commercial Tenant Can't Claim Breach of 'Warranty of Habitability'

May 19, 2021    

What Happened: The tenant admitted to not paying its rent. The only question was whether it had a valid defense for not doing so. The tenant’s argument: The landlord violated its “warranty of habitability” by failing to fix the leaky roof. As the landlord...

No Slam Dunk that COVID Left Restaurant Premises ‘Untenantable’

May 19, 2021    

What Happened: It’s become a familiar pattern. A landlord sues to evict a restaurant tenant for not paying rent. The restaurant cites COVID-19 as an excuse and asked the court to dismiss the case.

Email Doesn’t Prove Landlord Let Doctor Out of Office Lease

May 19, 2021    

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...

Court Rescues Tenant from Being Evicted for Minor Mistake

April 21, 2021    

What Happened: Technically, the landlord had a perfectly valid case to evict. But there was also a clear explanation why Bed Bath & Beyond (BB&B) didn’t pay its late rent until after the 10-day cure notice period expired. Its corporate headquarters was closed due...

'Substantial Compliance' Saves COVID-Strapped Tenant from Nonpayment Eviction

April 21, 2021    

What Happened: From March to October, a steakhouse couldn’t come up with its monthly rent because of the COVID-19 public health orders restricting indoor dining, the meat and potatoes of its business. But the steakhouse tried its best to be a faithful tenant. First, it...

Tenant's Failure to Pursue Required Zoning Change Justifies Lease Termination

April 21, 2021    

What Happened: One nonpaying tenant that didn’t catch a break from the courts was the one that leased store space for use as a boxing studio. The lease obligated the tenant to “pursue and diligently prosecute a change” in zoning that would allow the property to...

Court: Pandemic Isn't a 'Casualty' Event

April 6, 2021    

What Happened: Another retail tenant has failed in its bid to use COVID-19 as an excuse for not paying rent. The tenant in this case was a New York City outlet of national retail chain The Gap, which claimed, among other things, that the pandemic and its resulting shutdowns...