New York City landlords and tenants sign many thousands of commercial leases every year. These leases differ from residential leases in that the lessee is renting the property for commercial purposes. It is important to be aware of how a landlord-tenant dispute might arise in a commercial lease situation.
One particularly troublesome area of commercial leases that might give rise to a dispute is through what are known as use and exclusive clauses. Use clauses define how a tenant may use the property. Some clauses may be broad, allowing a wide variety of uses, whereas some may be specific and put extensive use restrictions in place. A lease that contains a specific use clause may prevent a business owner from expanding his or her business in the future, or restricting a desired form of advertising. An exclusive clause may grant a tenant permission to do something that another tenant may not do, which may have the result of preventing a neighboring tenant from competing, for example. If a tenant violates a use or exclusive clause, a dispute may arise.
Maintenance issues can also give rise to landlord-tenant disputes in commercial lease agreements. If a lease contains generic language, it may be unclear who bears what responsibilities in maintaining the premises, which can lead to disputes when repairs need to be made. Additionally, the authority to sublet the premises, as well as parking and security issues may lead to disputes between commercial landlords and tenants.
Landlords or tenants who have a potential legal issue regarding a commercial lease may wish to seek counsel. These issues can often be solved through effective negotiation, but without skilled counsel, they may escalate quickly.
Source: FindLaw, “Important Commercial Lease Terms,” accessed July 1, 2016