There are instances, particularly with long term commercial leases, where the original landlord and the original tenant are not the same. There are property sales, mergers and acquisitions, and assignments, all of which may change the entities serving as the original landlord or original tenant. In other words, the current landlord or tenant are not the same entities as the original landlord or tenant under the underlying commercial lease.
In a case dealing with a thirty-year lease, Hancock Shoppes, LLC v. Retained Subsidiary One, LLC, 2018 WL 2215263 (M.D.Fla. 2018), the original landlord was different than the current landlord. The original tenant was also different than the current tenant.
The current landlord sued the original tenant, the current tenant, and intermediate tenants (that had been assigned the lease at one point) for surrendering (returning) the leased premises in an “untenantable” condition because the tenant violated the lease’s provision by failing to protect the premises from vandalism, theft, waste, and neglect.
An issue was whether the intermediate tenants could be liable for breaching this lease’s provision when they were not the original tenant and were not the current tenant that returned the leased premises to the landlord. The trial court held that the intermediate tenants/assignees of the lease were no longer on the hook because they did not surrender the premises to the landlord. Stated another way, the intermediate tenants had assigned their obligations under the lease to another tenant and were not the parties that surrendered the leased premises to the landlord at the conclusion of the lease in a bad condition.
The lease provision at-issue in the matter appears to be a routine provision in a commercial lease regarding a tenant’s obligation to surrender the premises to the landlord in a good condition. Not doing so, apparently, caused damage to the landlord in remediating the damage so that it could lease the premises to a new tenant. Keep this in mind when surrendering (returning) the leased premises to your landlord.
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