Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label Lease. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lease. Show all posts

Friday, November 17, 2023

Terminating a Lease of a Decedent as an Executor / Administrator

If someone dies who is a tenant and if the estate wants to terminate the lease, all they have to do is notice the landlord by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. 

That is the new law, Real Property Law 236-a. 

Don't worry landlords, this law doesn't relieve tenants for past due rent, damage, or expenses.

While this law doesn't apply to cooperative units, it sure seems to apply to commercial property, which is insane (all the more reason to have tenants lease as entities, not individuals). 

This law is effective February 15, 2024. 

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

A Commercial Landlord is Liable for its Tenant's Trademark Infringement - Be Warned

If you know that your tenant is engaging in illegal activity at your property, you better do something about it. That's the message from the Federal Appellate Courts in Omega SA v. 375 Canal, LLC

In the case, a jury awarded $1.1 MM against a landlord for contributory trademark infringement for its willful blindness in identifying potential trademark infringing vendors at its premises where a counterfeit Omega watch was sold. According to the Court, liability follows if the landlord "or its agents had reason to suspect that trademark infringing merchandise was being offered or sold but deliberately failed to investigate or looked the other way to avoid seeing such activity." 

To prevail, a plaintiff does NOT need to prove that the landlord "continued to lease space to a specific, identified vendor that it knew or should have known was selling counterfeit [] goods." Instead, the plaintiff only needs to prove that a landlord had "reason to suspect" it's tenant counterfeiting goods "but deliberately failed to investigate or looked the other way to avoid seeing such activity." That is not to say that a landlord has an affirmative duty to police trademarks on its premises, just that it can't ignore them either. 

Landlords - 

Do you have video surveillance at your property? 

Do you have security guards? 

Do you accept complaints about your tenants from their customers?

What do you do to protect yourself from criminal tenants leasing space from you? 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Frustrates the Purpose of a Sit Down Restaurant's Lease, No?

Can a tenant terminate a lease because their purpose was frustrated?

We are getting contacted by restaurateurs who want to get out of their lease because they have to close their sit down / dine in operation and only offer delivery / take out, but can they?

The appellate courts have held that "[i]n order to invoke this defense, 'the frustrated purpose must be so completely the basis of the contract that, as both parties understood, without it, the transaction would have made little sense.'"

On that holding, the doctrine of frustration of purpose seems like it may get a restauranteur out of their lease.

In that holding, an office was able to terminate their lease because the CO didn't permit office use. Through analogizing to where an office tenant utilized frustration of purpose to get out of a lease because of an "inability to lawfully use the premises" based upon the CO, it's possible that a restaurateur can utilize the doctrine of frustration of purpose to terminate the lease where the purpose of the lease was to offer sit-down dining and now the same is not allowed as a matter of law.

However, appellate courts have also held that "a frustration of purpose defense 'is not available when the event preventing performance was foreseeable.'"

Expect a lot of restaurants to make this argument going forward and the issue of foreseeability will be everything if it gets to a trial. 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

What You Need To Know About Short Term Rentals In Southold

In September 2015, Southold passed a law, Southold Town Zoning Code §280-4, prohibiting all transient rental properties, also known as short-term rentals. Thereafter, local folklore emerged about grandfathering a house around the law. Don’t believe the folklore.

As a matter of background, prior to the transient rental law, Southold homeowners were generally able to rent their homes with no minimum durational restrictions. Now, all dwellings located in Southold, except for those on Fisher’s Island, are prohibited from leasing their homes for a period of less than 14 nights. Moreover, when a property is listed on a short-term rental website, the law presumes the dwelling is being used as a transient rental property. This law does not affect the hospitality industry as applied to licensed bed and breakfasts, hotels, and motels. Therefore, if you wish to stay in Southold for a duration of less than 14 nights, you must stay at a motel, hotel, or bed and breakfast.    

As to grandfathering a house around the law, for a non-conforming use to legally continue it must:
  • Not been enlarged, altered, extended, reconstructed or restored; and 
  • Never be changed to a conforming use. 
This last requirement is why Southold residents will functionally be unable to grandfather around the Southold transient rental law. Simply stated, once a homeowner’s property is used for a conforming use that nonconforming use no longer falls under the grandfathering exception. In a short-term rental, once the rental period is over, possession is transferred back to the homeowner in a conforming use. So, the only way to get grandfathering is to always have continuous occupancy at a home by tenants without ever having a break in rentals. This functionally doesn’t happen. Sometimes the best way to challenge a law that you don’t like isn’t to find a way around it, but instead to become active in local government and have the law changed to your liking.