Commercial lease litigation arises for any of a number of reasons. While the most common is the failure to pay rent, resulting in an unlawful detainer, there are numerous other reasons a commercial landlord and tenant may end up in litigation. For example, the parties may disagree about the costs of “CAM” charges incurred in maintaining the premises, or perhaps one of the parties has failed to maintain the common areas altogehter. In a triple net lease, the tenant pays all real estate taxes, building insurance and maintenance on the property, in addition to rent and utilities. Litigation can arise when the tenant fails to pay such sums.
Commercial landlords and tenants also get involved in litigation over matters involving public access and competition. ADA matters filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act are often filed against both a landlord AND tenant. Who bears the risk between the two and can the risk be assigned in the lease? Disputes also often arise due to competition and “radius” clauses. A commercial tenant may, for example, find reason to litigate with a landlord who rents to a competing business, notwithstanding a “radius” clause in the commercial lease.
At the end of the day, the goal for any business, whether landlord or tenant, is profit maximization. There is nothing profitable about time spent in litigation fighting over a commercial lease litigation issue. Even when a landlord or tenant is absolutely “in the right,” the loss of time due to the litigation, the accumulation of attorneys’ fees, and of course, the aggravation, usually result in a net loss to the prevailing party, even when it “wins.” Thus, one of the most important questions a client can ask a lawyer in the face of commercial litigation is: how can you resolve this matter quickly?
Stephen Hammers has extensive experience representing both commercial landlords and tenants. He drafts leases and concludes transactions, and also files litigation and appears in court on commercial matters. These matters are often resolved promptly after filing, and Mr. Hammers typically uses procedures such as demurrers and motions for summary judgment to move cases promptly towards resolution.