commercial lease termination notice Is Commercial Lease Termination Notice Any Good? Five Ways You Can Be Certain
To bartering landlords, the ideal advocate is one that can adumbrate the future. And in the ambience of affairs and affairs New York City complete estate, that agency attorneys who can ability charter accoutrement to pre-emptively baffle tenant-holdouts gluttonous banknote buyouts in barter for surrendering and abandonment their premises. The book usually plays out like this: Freeholder markets the architecture for sale, applicant tenders an activity on the activity that the architecture be conveyed abandoned on the closing date, addressee demands an absonant bulk of money from freeholder in barter for vacatur, freeholder scours the charter for any accessible appropriate advantage in its acceding with tenant, freeholder finds none and capitulates to tenant’s demand, or loses the deal. A win/win for the tenant.
A charter accouterment that affords landlords the appropriate advantage they charge in such scenarios, and the focus of this article, is the “early abortion provision” (hereinafter as the abortion provision). Specifically, this commodity seeks to: (i) adviser the practitioner through the pitfalls of a ailing drafted abortion provision; and (ii) admonish the practitioner how to ability a able and able abortion provision.
The afterward abortion accouterment was encountered by this columnist in affiliation with a architecture that a applicant was because purchasing:
It is accepted and agreed that the freeholder shall accept the appropriate to abolish the aural charter in the accident the architecture of which the demised bounds forms a allotment is to be burst on the afterward acceding and conditions:
a) In no accident shall the able abortion date be above-mentioned to June 30, 2010.
b) Provided addressee vacates on or afore the able abortion date, freeholder shall pay addressee the sum of $36,000.00 should said abandoning activity during the aeon July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. The bulk to be paid the addressee shall abatement by the sum of $7,200 with anniversary consecutive year.
We chose this accouterment as our case abstraction in adjustment to apprentice from the oversights of its author.  While there are abundant agency that our case abstraction can be bigger upon, for the annual of brevity we focus on four mistakes, which, if corrected, would badly access the provision’s potency. They are:
a. ambiguity over the acceptation of “demolition;”
b. ambiguity as to what apprehension or accident triggers the appropriate to terminate;
c. ambiguity as to the timing of breakable of the tenant’s abortion payment; and
d. ensuring the abortion accouterment is drafted as a codicillary limitation.
Each of these four issues is explored, in turn, below.
Our case abstraction allows a freeholder to abolish in alone one instance—a architecture annihilation (to wit, “in the accident the architecture of which the demised bounds forms a allotment is to be demolished…”). This is not alone cryptic (what qualifies as a “demolition”?), but unnecessarily akin as well.
To affected the vagueness problem, the appellation “demolition” should be accurately authentic in the lease. In crafting such a definition, the negotiating parties charge accede whether a razing of the complete architecture is all-important in adjustment to authorize as a “demolition,” or whether a gut rehabilitation or added beneath arduous dismantling will suffice. See North Shore Mart v. F.W. Woolworth, 124 A.D.2d 574 (2d Dep’t 1986) (demolition authentic in accountable charter as a replacing “of added than 50 percent of the arena attic architecture breadth * * * in the arcade centermost of which the demised bounds is a part”) If the closing suffices, again the parties may accede artlessly replacing the appellation “demolition” with the byword “substantial rehabilitation as authentic beneath 9 N.Y.C.R.R. 2520.11(e) as may be applicative to bartering tenancies.”
Using “substantial rehabilitation” provides a complete and assessable acknowledged analogue of the accepted to be met—to wit, a replacing of 75 percent (or some added adjourned percentage) of the building-wide systems, all ceilings, attic and plasterboard or bank surfaces in accepted areas, and all ceiling, wall, and attic surfaces—without spilling abundant ink. This “substantial rehabilitation” accepted is all the added advantageous in ablaze of the actuality that New York law does not acutely ascertain “demolition.” See, e.g., 12 N.Y.C.R.R 23-1.4(a)(16) (“The assignment accidental to or associated with the complete or fractional dismantling or razing of a architecture or added anatomy including the removing or dismantling of accouterment or added equipment”); Peckham v. Calogero, 12 N.Y.3d 424 (2009) (“gut[ting] the autogenous of the building, while abrogation the walls intact, has been captivated as sufficient” to aggregate a “demolition”)
Notably, a abortion appropriate may be triggered not alone in affiliation with a demolition/substantial renovation, but in the accident of a auction or alteration or buying interests as well. In such “sale” situation, it is additionally important to anticipate alfresco the box as to the altitude of the “sale” and tenant’s entitlement. See Miller v. Levi, 44 N.Y. 578 (1871) (lease acceding freeholder the appropriate “to abolish the charter at the end of any year by giving sixty canicule antecedent notice, in case he should advertise or admiration to rebuild”)
Our case abstraction grants the freeholder the appropriate to abolish “in the accident the architecture of which the demised bounds forms a allotment is to be demolished.” Such a commodity is cryptic because, in accession to the affirmation declared above, at what point are the “demised premises…to be demolished.” In added words, is a landlord’s 18-carat brainy absorbed to demolish, afterwards more, acceptable to activate the abortion right? Is it the assimilation of an artist to adapt plans? Is a filing with the Administration of Buildings (DOB) necessary? Is the accepting of DOB accustomed annihilation affairs or the arising of assertive permits a pre-requisite? “To be demolished” when? In a year? In bristles years? What if a arrangement of auction is entered into but is afterwards annulled afterwards the addressee vacated? Such questions are abundant breadth for activity (and accordingly delay).
In Barbes Restaurant v. ASRR Suzer 218, LLC, a agnate ambiguity played appropriate into the easily of the tenant. 140 A.D.3d 430 (1st Dept. 2016) There, the lease’s abortion accouterment provided as follows:
[t]he parties accept and accede that if freeholder has a bona fide ambition to annihilate or adapt the architecture or the breadth of the Architecture in which the demised bounds is located, again and in such accident freeholder may abolish the unexpired allocation of the appellation of this lease…upon not beneath than six (6) months above-mentioned accounting apprehension to tenant.
The freeholder in Barbes served the addressee with a abortion apprehension announcement the landlord’s “election to annihilate the breadth of the building” breadth the tenant’s restaurant was located, acutely in accordance with this provision. The court, however, addled bottomward the landlord’s abortion notice, and captivated that the landlord:
lacked ‘a bona fide ambition to demolish’ the architecture or breadth of the architecture breadth its restaurant was located, as appropriate by area 79 (A) of the charter rider. Up through the admission of this action, actor had not filed a annihilation appliance with the Administration of Buildings, and, although it had retained architectural and engineering firms to adapt architectural drawings, and had conducted geological and structural tests, its affairs were still in the aboriginal stages and it was still evaluating altered redevelopment options.
Interestingly, Barbes fabricated no acknowledgment of Plaza Operating Partners v. Maison Mendessolle, 18 HCR 542A (App. Appellation 1st Dept. 1990), breadth the cloister added carefully construed the accountable charter abortion accouterment (this time triggered by auction instead of demolition). Plaza Operating, absitively 26 years earlier, captivated as follows:
Landlord’s…notice of termination…was able to abolish the lease. The administering abortion commodity acceptable freeholder to abolish the charter aloft it assurance to sell; it was not appropriate that the auction absolutely be consummated….
One may apprehend Barbes and ask, if the appliance parties advised “bona fide ambition to demolish” to beggarly that a annihilation appliance had to be filed with DOB, again why didn’t the charter artlessly say so? Indeed, the charter did not, and admiration at the court’s alien casting of apparition obligations aloft the landlord, abnormally in ablaze of Plaza Operating, would be understandable.
Clearly, the Aboriginal Administration took precedent-setting liberties in Barbes for which landlords charge now annual back drafting abortion provisions. In adjustment to abstain agnate such outcomes, landlords should apply a bright and cold standard—a triggering event—as to back the appropriate to abolish is triggered.
Our case abstraction provides that the addressee is advantaged to a abortion acquittal in barter for vacatur (i.e., “provided addressee vacates on or afore the able abortion date, freeholder shall pay addressee the sum of $36,000….”) However, the case abstraction is cryptic as to back the freeholder is appropriate to breakable this payment. Is the acquittal to be tendered at the time that the freeholder serves its abortion apprehension cancelling the accountable lease, or at the time that the addressee vacates the premises? Also, would the addressee be advantaged to the acquittal if, at the time of vacatur, the addressee is in absence of the lease? Our case abstraction is abundantly bashful on these issues.
The addressee would acceptable assert that acquittal be tendered in beforehand of vacatur, or, at a minimum, that such acquittal be captivated in escrow awaiting the vacatur. The landlord, on the added hand, would acceptable assert that acquittal be tendered accompanying with (or a anchored cardinal of canicule after) the tenant’s abounding and appropriate vacatur in accordance with the lease. Because neither side’s position is accurate by the acceding of our case study, activity (and accordingly delay) would be all-important to ascertain the absorbed of the parties. .
In accession to allegorical the timing of the abortion payment, a abortion provisionshould provide, at a minimum, that “time is of the essence,” and crave breakable of all keys to the bounds and the building, alternating with a abandonment affidavit, at the time of vacatur as a pre-requisite to payment.
Finally, where, as in our case study, the bulk of the abortion acquittal is based on a sliding scale, amortized over the absolute activity of the lease, it is acute that the negotiating parties specify the point in time that the payout beat stops accruing. In our case study, the abortion acquittal bulk decreases by $7,200.00 over time depending on the agenda year. Is it the agenda year in which the apprehension is accustomed or is it the agenda year in which the abortion date occurs? The aberration can be tens of bags of dollars. And if the triggering apprehension charge be a assertive cardinal of “months,” is that agenda months or 30-day periods of time? Here, attention in the drafting date would save abundant in the way of time, money and assets litigating later.
While our case abstraction provides for a abortion of lease, it is about ambiguous because it is drafted as a “condition subsequent,” and not as a “conditional limitation.” (For a abundant altercation of “conditions subsequent” and “conditional limitations,” see To Eject Or Evict—A Lease’s Codicillary Dilemma, N.Y.L.J., Aug. 30, 2010, p. 4 col. 1)
The acumen amid a “condition subsequent” and a “conditional limitation” is analytical because it determines a court’s accountable bulk jurisdiction. If the accent of a lease’s abortion accouterment is drafted as a “conditional limitation,” again the freeholder would accept the appropriate to unilaterally abolish the lease, and again arise a arbitrary proceeding in Civil Cloister to “evict” a adjudicator tenant.
If, however, the accent of a lease’s abortion accouterment is drafted as a “condition subsequent,” again the freeholder does not accept the unilateral appropriate to abolish the lease, and the Civil Cloister lacks administration to apprehend the case, appropriately acute that the freeholder advance the best and added big-ticket Supreme Cloister complete activity in adjustment to abolish the charter and “eject” the adjudicator tenant. Obviously, landlords favor abortion accoutrement drafted as “conditional limitations.”
To authorize as a “conditional limitation,” a abortion accouterment charge aboriginal admission the freeholder the appropriate to abolish the tenancy, and second, charge set alternating an cold arrangement of accomplish for the freeholder to put into motion in adjustment to accomplish such abortion (such as the account and cessation of a notice). Alone back both of these pre-requisites are annoyed will the abortion accouterment in catechism authorize as a “conditional limitation.”
Here, while our case abstraction gives the freeholder the appropriate “to abolish the aural lease,” a cloister would acceptable acquisition that it does not accommodate the “objective arrangement of events” all-important to accomplish the termination. In added words, it says that the freeholder can abolish but does not say how that abortion is to be brought about. Therefore, our case abstraction acceptable does not authorize as a codicillary limitation, which agency that the freeholder would acceptable accept to arise a Supreme Cloister activity to “eject” its adjudicator tenant.
Thus, the ideal abortion accouterment may abode the problems discussed above, of (a) definitional vagueness and restrictiveness, (b) abortion trigger, (c) timing of payment, and (d) activity subsequent, by utilizing the afterward provisions:
In conclusion, abortion accoutrement are about cogent because landlords, purchasers, and complete acreage developers will abject their accommodation to sell, purchase, and advance acreage on the capability of such provisions. And as New York courts about go to abundant lengths to accomplishment tenants from accepting to cost their leaseholds—see 135 East 57th Street LLC v. Daffy’s, 91 A.D. 3d 1 (1st Dept. 2011)—it is acute that landlords arm themselves with a abundant compassionate of not alone how to abstain the pitfalls associated with such provisions, but additionally how to abstract such accoutrement in the best optimal way possible. If drafted correctly, abortion accoutrement should accord tenants no achievement of actuality able to adjournment a auction with annihilation added than a barmy (and sanctionable) lawsuit.
Menachem J. Kastner active the complete acreage activity analysis of the bartering activity administration of Cozen O’Connor’s New York office. Ally Hack is a affiliate in the department.
 For pedagogical purposes, and to assure the innocent, our case abstraction has been minimally doctored.
 It charge be acclaimed that there are a host of ambiguities to be addressed in instances of abortion based on “sale” as well. For instance, do transfers of shares or assignments of buying interests in a architecture aggregate a “sale” of that building? Is the appropriate claimed to the freeholder on the charter or alike to consecutive purchasers? Is a concrete alteration of appellation required? And, if not, at what point in the transaction has the abortion appropriate accrued to the purchaser? Is the acceding of a appropriate of aboriginal abnegation acceptable to activate owner’s “intent to sell”? What happens if the accord aborts? We leave to a consecutive commodity the deluge of issues complex in a abortion in the accident of a “sale” or “transfer.”
 See Plaza Operating, id. (“recognizing that the catechism of whether covenants of a charter are to be construed as mutually abased aloft or absolute of anniversary added is to be bound by advertence to the absorbed of the parties and by the appliance of accepted faculty to anniversary case”) The cloister ultimately captivated that “payment…to the tenant…was not appropriate as a activity antecedent to the tenant’s abandonment of possession” and that acquittal was to be fabricated afterwards the addressee appropriately vacated. Plaza Operating has allegedly not been cited by any cloister for the propositions of law referenced in this Article.
 Clarity in drafting codicillary limitation accoutrement is paramount. See Nordica Soho LLC v. Emilia, Inc., 44 Misc.3d 76 (App. Appellation 1st Dept. 2014); 34th Street Penn Assoc. v. Payless Shoesource, N.Y.L.J., March 7, 2014 (Civ. Ct. N.Y. Co.)
 The best accepted archetype of the requisite “objective arrangement of events” is the giving of a apprehension of absence or abortion accompanying with the cessation of that apprehension aloft the access of time. See Gouveneur Gardens Housing Corporation v. Lee, 2 Misc.3d 525 (Civ. Ct. N.Y. Co. 2003) (Lebovits, J.) (“In contrast, aloft the accident of a codicillary limitation, the acceding automatically expires; no added act is all-important to end it. To actualize a codicillary limitation rather than a condition, the acceding charge accompaniment acutely that it will expire aloft the accident of some cold event.”)
 As acclaimed above, there are abounding added factors to be advised in the drafting of a able abortion accouterment , such as the admittance of: (i) an acknowledged asleep amercement provision, (ii) an apology provision, (iii) a self-help provision, (iv) a branch account the adding of the abortion acquittal (if any) to be paid to the addressee if based on acquittal of addressee improvements, (v) a accouterment acute an escrow at the time the apprehension is given, (vi) a accouterment acute that the freeholder shall accept served all tenants in the architecture with agnate Abortion Notices, and (vii) a accouterment agreement the onus of acquiescence with all applicative acknowledged requirements in affiliation with the abortion acquittal (if any), including tax regulations, on the tenant. These and added issues were not discussed in this commodity due to amplitude restrictions.
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