As Set Forth On Exhibit A (Not Actually) Attached Hereto

Print

As we were reading a very recent decision issued by the Supreme Court of Alabama, we once again were preparing to write how wasteful it was for the parties to litigate the issues raised. This urge happens often enough that Ruminations has considered preparing “boilerplate” language to be inserted at the end of many blog postings. Then we got to the concurring opinion. It could apply to many of the “manufactured” disputes created by one party or the other and supported by their advocates. Though the following words by that concurring justice give away part of the story we are going to tell, its content and tone resonate with Ruminations. We suggest that we all step back each time issues like these arise and reconsider our thoughts about litigating them.

[Read more…]

Print

Does The Broker Get Paid? Efficient Producing Cause And The Facts

Print

Last week, we set the background for understanding what it means for a broker to be the “efficient producing cause” behind a lease or sale. The background was in the form of a story from a 2012 unpublished New Jersey court decision. The long version can be seen by clicking: HERE. For those who missed last week’s blog posting, here is a precis.

An individual property owner and a real estate broker executed a commission agreement. Then the owner transferred the property to a newly formed limited liability company. A drugstore lease, requiring the owner to construct the store, was signed. The drug store’s parent company guaranteed the lease. Construction (likely “non-construction”) took years. The tenant hung on. To get the project moving, the property was transferred to a joint venture, with the new 75% owner taking over operational responsibility. Under the joint venture agreement, the new entity agreed to be responsible under the original brokerage agreement. Two days after the joint venture agreement was signed, the owner terminated the brokerage agreement. More than two years after that, the original drug store lease was terminated and a new lease was signed. The new lease was between the joint venture and the original tenant’s successor by merger. Again, the drug store parent company signed a guaranty. All of the documents signed by each of the original and new drug store were signed by the same person who signed the guaranties. The business terms of the new lease differed in rent amount and lease term from the original lease. The store opened. [Read more…]

Print

The Invisible Hand Behind A Lease (It’s Economics)

Print

How is rent determined? Is it just tossed-out by one party or the other (most often the landlord) and then hashed out without reference to outside sources of information? A long time ago, market information may have been difficult to obtain. Today, that’s not the case. Those who choose to ignore market information negotiate in the dark. But, competitive rent rate information is not all that can or should go into negotiations.

If any reader is expecting Ruminations to now present a formula or algorithm that will eliminate rent negotiation, that reader gives us too much credit. We do think that the day will come when rent negotiations will be done between “machines,” but we neither see “when” that will happen or “how” that will work. Today, in what we hope will be a relatively short blog posting (for Ruminations), our goal is to toss out a theory of how rent is set while recognizing that no one will agree with us because we’ll be positing a theory involving “invisible” factors.

“Market rent” is a real thing. It may be difficult to ascertain precisely, but it is a number that reflects actual rents in the marketplace. Yes, defining the “marketplace” is an art and, yes, adjusting each lease in the market data bank to a “standard” is an art, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t such a thing as “market rent.” When one party or the other throws out a rental figure to start a leasing discussion, it is done with some sense of the market rent for the available space. The negotiations that follow, i.e., where they go from the starting figure, do so based on each party’s own sense of market rent and, even if both agree on the “market rent,” there still remains the duel between how much the tenant really wants “that” space and how much the landlord wants to lease “that” space. [Read more…]

Print

How To Cap The Very Wrong Lease Payment Obligation

Print

Here’s a question for commercial leasing mavens (that’s informal for: an expert or connoisseur). Have you ever seen (or contemplated) where a tenant wants to have a cap on its monthly estimated payments for its share of operating expenses, but doesn’t want a cap on its actual annual share of those expenses? If the question isn’t clear, it soon will become so.

Normally, we would give some background before presenting any lease clauses but, today, the clauses in question are the background. They come from a January 4, 2018 Court of Appeal of Louisiana decision, one that can be read by clicking: HERE[Read more…]

Print

Part 2: Are You Buying A Shopping Center? If So, Look Here:

Print

A few weeks ago, in response to a constant, but small, stream of requests for suggested language,” we posted a set of possible representations and warranties and a set on conditions precedent a buyer might want to consider for inclusion in a purchase agreement to acquire a leased property. We got a number of “thank you” messages following our doing so. Now, since Ruminations is not immune to adulation, we thought we’d put a lid on the topic by sharing another set of provisions a buyer might want to see in that same purchase agreement. If this pleases you, then savor today’s because it is unlikely that we’ll be taking Ruminations on this kind of detour very soon again. As always, if any reader has any suggested language to share with the many, many other readers who suffer through our postings each week, please add your contribution as a comment to today’s posting. [Read more…]

Print

Abandonment, Vacancy, Default – How Are These Related?

Print

JDoes a tenant have a duty to occupy the leased space? No, not unless the lease requires it to do so. So, what should a lease say in that regard? We begin by contrasting two terms, vacate and abandon.

What does it mean to “abandon” leased premises? To abandon the leased space is for a tenant to relinquish its right or interest in the space with the intention of never claiming it again.  Normally that requires an understanding of the tenant’s subjective intent, a very difficult “state of mind.”  In some cases, however, that state of mind can be determined, such as when an entity tenant vacates the leased premises and is dissolved.  Mere passage of time during a cessation of active use does not constitute abandonment.  Although length of time is a factor to be considered, it is not the sole factor.  Some discontinued uses are more readily revivable than others, and the passage of time must be considered in conjunction with all circumstances, including those that caused the cessation, the nature and quality of efforts being made to resume the use, and any other objective manifestations supporting or negating the owner’s expressed intent to continue the use.  Further, just because a tenant ceases using particular leased premises does not mean that it doesn’t intend to find a subtenant for those premises.  Thus, if a tenant is otherwise performing its obligations under its lease, a landlord under a lease lacking a definition for “abandonment,” applicable to the particular circumstances, is without the ability to terminate the Lease or recapture the space. [Read more…]

Print

The Times They Are A Changin

Print

A major supermarket, once the largest retailer in the United States, closed in bankruptcy after 156 years in existence. People much smarter and knowledgeable that we are could better explain the cause of its demise and, in hindsight, could explain how they knew, years and years earlier, it would happen. Ruminations can only offer that the facts and circumstances changed, but the company (meaning its people in charge) did not. But, this blog isn’t about history other than to use it as a platform upon which to stand when engaging in another fool’s errand – forecasting the future.

The reason this now-gone supermarket comes to mind is “Uber.” We’ll get to that, but for now, please suffer along with us. [Read more…]

Print

Groceries And Other Definitions Revisited

Print

Groceries, sandwiches, ice cream, supermarkets, restaurants, department stores, variety stores – oh, the words we use, what do they mean? Today, we revisit one of our most-read blog postings because a federal appeals court revisited the underlying case (again). We’re “talking” about the Winn-Dixie case. Our “take” on that underlying case can be read by clicking: HERE. Ruminations urges readers to refresh their memories now by re-reading our earlier blog posting

Winn-Dixie, a supermarket chain, won a court decision in Florida where the lower court ruled that “groceries” included soup, aluminum foil, and similar items. As a result, it ruled that dozens of “dollar” type stores run by three retailers were in violation of a provision in the supermarket’s lease prohibiting others from selling groceries. Basically, the federal court that first heard the lawsuit looked at an earlier state court ruling, and (kind of properly) treated it as binding on itself, the federal court. [Read more…]

Print