Commercial leasehold interests are a center piece of the asset portfolio of many West Virginia businesses. As we start to see the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions across the State many businesses are looking to their leases to better understand how these agreements might treat some of the many novel challenges raised by the current public health crisis.
In these difficult times, many parties are negotiating rent relief and we expect the deferral, reduction, or forgiveness of some payment obligations to continue to be a part of the discussion between landlords and tenants for some time to come (especially as CARES Act funding begins to be depleted). However, rent and expense payment obligations are not the only part of a commercial lease. With businesses reopening, parties will increasingly look to their leases to allocate responsibility for the cleaning of common areas; the control of ingress and egress from buildings to facilitate social distancing; the maintenance, repair, and upgrade of HVAC and building air quality systems; security responsibilities; and other matters.
Businesses may find that once mundane maintenance or cleaning requirements, quiet enjoyment covenants, security measures, and ingress and egress clauses in their leases have taken on new meaning in the face of COVID-19. Parties may be looking to their leases to assign risk associated with re-opening operations on their properties and may be looking to the insurance clauses in lease agreements to determine whether adequate coverage exists for risks that may not have anticipated when the leases were prepared.
Lewis Glasser is representing parties in the review and negotiation of lease amendments and accommodations related to the changing circumstances of COVID-19. As West Virginia begins to relax shelter-in-place restrictions over the coming weeks, we recommend a careful review of your commercial leases and communications with your landlord or tenants to address these matters. We would be happy to discuss these, or other COVID related matters, anytime.
Matthew R. Bowles
Lewis Glasser PLLC
(O) 304.345.2000 (Ext. 1039) / (D) 304.414.9001
Lewis Glasser PLLC
304-345-2000 / lewisglasser.com/covid-19-resources
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This e-update is advertising material intended to provide addressees with informational updates and perspectives regarding matters of interest in connection with the COVID 19 pandemic. This e-update does not constitute legal advice, the provision of legal counseling or any other professional service, nor does it constitute a legal opinion regarding any specific facts. No attorney-client relationship is created by this e-update and this e-update does not constitute an offer to provide legal services.
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