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Contracts Landlord Tenant Law Litigation

COVID-19 and Lease Negotiations: Early Termination Provisions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some tenants were able to negotiate termination agreements with their landlords. But even though a landlord may agree to terminate a lease to regain control of a defaulting tenant’s space without costly and lengthy litigation, typically a defaulting tenant that otherwise has no contractual right to terminate its lease will be in a much weaker bargaining position with respect to the conditions for termination.

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“Contracts are like hearts, they’re made to be broken,” says a smirking Michael Keaton, playing Ray Kroc in the movie The Founder. As many tenants discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, this philosophy is not true of commercial leases. Unless the lease specifically gives the tenant a right to terminate, the tenant cannot simply walk away from its lease without risking substantial liability.

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