In the current recession, commercial landlord’s are just beginning to feel the pressure from tenants seeking rent concession or the outright elimination of their rent obligation. See Wall Street Journal, “Struggling Retailers Press Struggling Landlords on Rent”, January 2009. There is also a rapidly shrinking pool of high-quality “anchor” as major retail chains file bankruptcy seemingly one after the other. As a commercial property owner, what should you do to protect your interest?
A lessee cannot effect a surrender and termination of a lease unilaterally. The landlord must accept the offer of termination for it to be in effect. Under California law, an abandonment of the premises by the tenant is merely an offer to surrender their lease. See Miller & Starr, 3rd. Ed., Vol 7, Sec. 19.
Upon receiving an offer of termination from a tenant, a commercial landlord must make an election of his remedy: (1) Ignore the offer to terminate, treat the lease as continuing and sue to recover rent as it becomes due provided that the lease permits the lessee to sublease or assign its interest; or (2) Accept the offer to terminate, and pursue remedies under CCC §1951.2.
How well companies and individuals managing real estate assets through an economic downturn is critical to long term success in real estate.
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