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For the last year, commercial tenants — including some big-name tenants like Hugo Boss, Christian Louboutin and Gap — have been arguing that their rent obligations should be eliminated or reduced during the pandemic under the frustration-of-purpose doctrine. While most courts have rejected these arguments, some recent decisions have come out in tenants’ favor on this point. Some have applauded these latter decisions as providing much needed rent relief to struggling tenants, but these decisions and the use of the frustration-of-purpose doctrine to absolve commercial tenants of their obligation to pay rent could signal headwinds for the commercial real estate market — and the economy more generally — as demonstrated by some COVID-related New York cases.
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By Marisa L. Byram and Tyler V. Friederich
A South Carolina appellate court recently affirmed a trial court’s decision that a landlord had tortiously interfered with a sublease by terminating the master lease after a fire damaged the subject building and such landlord was liable to the subtenant for punitive damages.
By By Jonathan Robbin
The Second Circuit recently held that a bare violation of mortgage satisfaction recording statutes without a demonstration of actual injury conferred federal jurisdiction, meaning that a mortgagor now has the ability to bring a class action in federal court. Thus, statutes designed to be merely remedial in nature can now be used punitively against lenders and servicers.
By Warren A. Estis and Alexander Lycoyannis
New cannabis businesses will need to lease commercial space in order to operate — and undoubtedly, many real estate owners are eager to meet this new demand. However, owners and prospective cannabis businesses have many legal issues and questions to consider before entering into lease agreements.
By Jeffery R. Mullen and Fred Warren Jacoby
We are only beginning to scratch the surface of the effect on the construction litigation visited on us by COVID-19-related impacts. However, the pandemic and its continuing impact has reinforced the importance of planning for the unexpected — and undefined — when negotiating construction contracts.