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Lower Manhattan Landlord Wins $54K-Plus in Back Rent, Damages From Equities Firm

Chamber Street Holdings, LLC v. RAM Equities, LLC
(Supreme Court, NY County, 7/13/2009)


Plaintiff commercial landlord granted summary judgment against Defendant tenant in the amount of $54,434.49 (representing rental arrears, operating expenses, labor and a leasing commission) plus interest, attorney's fees, costs and disbursements. Under the terms of the Lease, the Defendant could elect to exercise its option to renew by delivering to the landlord, at least one year prior to the expiration date, written notice of its intent to do so. In this case, the Defendant gave the Plaintiff just six months written notice of its intention to renew the Lease for an additional five years. The Plaintiff nevertheless did not demand that the Defendant vacate the premises at the end of the Lease term. Rather, the Defendant remained in possession of the premises. Prior to the end of the renewal Lease period, Defendant abandoned the Premises. When Plaintiff sought to recover damages for unpaid rent, re-letting costs, etc., Defendant argued that its late notice of renewal was never effective to create a new five-year term, as it was given with less than one years notice, and was never formally accepted in writing by the landlord. The court found that the fact that the Defendant did not comply with the one year notice provision was of no significance since that notice provision was clearly inserted in the Lease for the benefit of the Plaintiff and could therefore be waived by Plaintiff. Defendant also argued that there was a surrender by operation of law which precluded the Plaintiff from seeking any rent which would have otherwise accrued after it abandoned the premises. Defendant argued that, by its conduct (namely, changing the locks, ceasing rent demands, and attempting to re-let the premises), the Plaintiff indicated its intent to consider the Lease terminated. The Court rejected this argument because the Lease contained a provision which expressly stated that no act done by the landlord shall be deemed an acceptance of surrender and that all agreements to accept a surrender must be in writing. Since there was no such written agreement, the Plaintiff's conduct could not be deemed to constitute an acceptance of Defendant's surrender by operation of law.  Link to Full Text of Decision


Lower Manhattan Landlord Wins $54K-Plus in Back Rent, Damages From Equities Firm
The New York Observer, July 21, 2009
By Bonnie Kavoussi
July 20, 2009 


"The problem with the defendant's argument is that the lease contains a provision which expressly states that no act done by the landlord shall be deemed an acceptance of surrender and that all agreements to accept a surrender must be in writing," Justice Diamond wrote. "Since there was no such written agreement, the plaintiff's conduct cannot be deemed to constitute an acceptance of defendant's surrender by operation of law."  Read More...

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