Courts have been slow to reopen and deal with eviction issues. Commercial lease evictions are able to continue, but practically they will still take time to get through the courts, so now is the time to try to work things out if possible to save time, money, and stress. Some considerations to think about with your commercial lease are as follows:
Considering How Shopping Center Commercial Leases are Unique
The fact that shopping center leases have co-tenancy provisions makes them unique and could grant tenants more options in court. The goal of this co-tenancy is to ensure that stores do not miss out on opportunities because other stores are closing and causing a continual downswing in foot traffic. In terms of the battle between landlords and tenants, tenants may have a potential argument that the landlord has not fulfilled its co-tenancy obligation.
It is important to note that one of the factors that many tenants’ arguments will stand upon is whether COVID-19 indeed prevented them from paying their rent. One of the considerations that many landlords are taking is the potential to fill the spot that would be left vacant.
Factors that will affect such decisions include supply and demand as well as how desirable the location is. It may even be more advantageous for landlords to settle disputes out of court, but we are certain once the moratoriums subside, the courts will see an influx.
What Exactly Is Co-tenancy and How Could It Apply?
When more than one entity has an interest in a property, co-tenancy agreements usually apply. In commercial property, many times increased traffic will cause businesses to be more successful over time. The inverse is true as well, with businesses that are forced to shut down causing damage to the potential of the stores that are left.
Many times, to assist with the finances of these stores, landlords will lessen the rent of the co-tenants. It is all up to the landlord and the documents that the businesses signed when they first decided to become situated in that location.
Complicating matters more is the fact that PPP Assistance may give a business the appearance of operating at a standard level when foot traffic is drastically lowered because of rising positive COVID-19 tests.
With a lack of pandemic provisions written into leases, landlords and tenants are having to get creative with the options that they are afforded. Co-tenancy has often been used to help businesses that are suffering due to the lack of success from an adjacent commercial listing.
However, what happens when an external factor is causing many of the businesses to suffer? It may just be that a battle is looming on the horizon between landlords and tenants, and every month we get a little bit closer to that battle becoming our reality.
What Options do Landlords Have?
Although landlords are in a predicament when it comes to shouldering tenants that are not paying rent, there are many points to take into consideration before filing for eviction.
For the high-end shopping centers, they may have the footing to stand on, mainly because filling the empty location will not be as difficult. For areas with less foot-traffic, landlords may be encouraged to work with their tenants.
Depending on the language found in the contracts signed between the owner and the occupant, some owners have been able to offer concessions to assist their tenants during this time; however, many are not going to be able to make such offerings.
Some have speculated that eventually, owners may turn to lenders to try and gain permission to offer concessions. The fact remains that all three parties are in a mode of cautious speculation over what options they may have to maintain some semblance of the bottom line when it comes to their businesses.
Although insurance does not usually cover pandemics, that could change down the line. Lenders are looking at options that involve insurance that would help landlords and, in turn, help their tenants through difficulties that are out of their control, such as a pandemic.
An important factor is assistance afforded by the PPP loans from the Cares Act. Even with an extension and another assistance check, the potential ending point could be early August when the program is set to expire.
We could be looking at many agreements being modified and tensions rising between landlords and their tenants as that time approaches. Once the PPP loans expire, we will be seeing an entirely different operating pattern for landlords and the businesses they rent to. That dreaded conflict could create many vacancies and fluctuations in the commercial market. We must be ready.
A Wave of Litigation on The Horizon
We believe that, although you can stave off conflict, many times it is only buying time that will eventually run out. With difficulties being placed on both sides, we certainly predict a wave of litigation concerning these issues.
Our recommendation is to cross these bridges before they are at your feet. One of the best practices you can have with the businesses you work with is to have open lines of communication. Of course, when relationships become too contentious to resolve certain complications, it becomes necessary to have a legal professional help.
Being situated where we are, The Orlando Law Group is keeping our focus on what we can do to help commercial businesses and their landlords through this difficult time. It could be the simple act of looking at your documents to have a deeper understanding of the potential you will have when facing mounting litigation.
When there is no easy answer, the law is there for us to rely upon, and we are remaining cautiously hopeful for the future. Businesses will have to adapt as well as their landlords, and as we go through this change, we will find new ways to protect the financial future of our endeavors.