Landlords were prepared for many tenants to come knocking, hat in hand, in April as the spread of the novel coronavirus forced offices to empty and retailers to temporarily shutter. But some tenants have disappeared altogether.
Owners told Commercial Observer that many tenants unable to pay the full April rent gave notice about their situation beforehand, but some took the tactic of ghosting landlords completely.
Most agreed that simply not talking to their landlord first about an inability to pay was the worst tactic a tenant could take. Many owners have been willing to work with companies, but it can't happen without a phone call.
Bonnie Y. Hochman Rothell, chair of the firm's litigation practice, says it's really unwise for tenants to merely take it upon themselves and engage in that type of self-help. “It’s going to come back to haunt them.”
Many have been trying to use the force majeure clause in their lease — which outlines certain unforeseeable circumstances or "acts of God" to prevent someone from fulfilling a contract — to get out of payment.
Rothell said those are unlikely to succeed since the majority of force majeure clauses only outline specific parts of the lease that can be excused when triggered and paying rent is rarely one of them.
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