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Commercial Litigation Landlord Tenant Law Litigation

COVID Shutdown Orders vs. Statutory Rent Obligations

Even though payment of post-petition rent under a nonresidential lease (prior to rejection) has historically been an absolute requirement, bankruptcy courts, as courts of equity, have the ability during these extraordinary times to take a more flexible approach. This clearly is an evolving trend that should continue for at least the duration of the pandemic and perhaps beyond, as bankruptcy judges and practitioners seek out creative and unique responses to difficult issues.

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Beginning in late March with In re Modell’s Sporting Goods, Inc., No. 20-14179 (Bankr. D.N.J.), some bankruptcy courts in retail Chapter 11 cases have been allowing debtors to suspend post-petition rent payments to their landlords, in contravention of the long-accepted practice, based on Bankruptcy Code Section 365(d)(3), that such payments must continue to be made as they come due in the ordinary course of business.

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