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Commercial Litigation Landlord Tenant Law Litigation

Inheriting Tenants in Default?

An Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of a commercial tenant after a new owner acquired a commercial building and attempted to collect accrued unpaid rent owed to the previous landlord.

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If you currently own or are looking to acquire a shopping center, office building or other commercial property, these transactions may bring with them some time consuming surprises and costly legal fees if existing tenants owe unpaid rent. An Illinois Appellate Court recently addressed this issue in 1002 E. 87th St. LLC v. Midway Broadcasting Corp., 2018 IL App (1st) 171691 (June 5, 2018), and ruled in favor of a commercial tenant after a new owner acquired a commercial building and attempted to collect accrued unpaid rent owed to the previous landlord. In affirming the lower court’s ruling, the court held that a subsequent landlord did not have standing to sue for unpaid rent that had accrued prior to the conveyance and explained that such standing is a right remaining with the original landlord to whom the unpaid rent is owed. Additionally, unlike other debt obligations, the court differentiated rent accrual as a chose in action that is not assignable. The decision raises questions about the strength of assignment and non-waiver lease provisions and also rights of succeeding landlords. Further, it raises concerns about the applicability of certain non-waiver lease provisions, in particular, the assignability of lease rights and obligations. Landlords, tenants, and lenders alike are now questioning whether this decision may facilitate tenants’ evasion of contractual duties upon acquisition or disposition of real estate.

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