Can Commercial Leases be Terminated?

Update, January 5, 2018: Florida's new marijuana laws have raised many questions among landlords and tenants. Lease lawyer David S. Tupler addresses some of the biggest concerns in this blog.

In Florida, a commercial lease may be legally "broken" or prematurely terminated by a Broward County landlord or a tenant when the lessor or lessee fails to honor something previously agreed upon according to the agreement, or when the landlord or tenant fails to obey an applicable law which justifies termination of the lease in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood. Although you should always consult with a Broward lease attorney prior to taking legal action, here is some general information to get you started.

When a landlord or tenant fails to do something agreed upon a commercial lease, this is called a "breach" of the agreement. A basic and simple example of a breach of lease is when a lessee fails to pay rent. When this happens, a lessor usually has the right to terminate the agreement after written notice and opportunity to cure the default has been provided to the tenant in accordance with Florida statutes. Another example of a breach might be if a landlord fails to make promised repairs to a leased property and the agreement specifies that the lessor will make certain repairs within a specified time period.

Written notice of a breach and the opportunity to cure are essential prerequisites prior to termination of a commercial lease. For example, one of the conditions of a commercial lease may be that the lessor promises to maintain a certain amount of liability insurance on the leased property. If the landlord fails to comply with this condition, the tenant must notify the lessor in writing of the breach and give the landlord sufficient time to obtain the promised liability insurance before seeking to terminate the lease.

Breach Isn't Always Grounds for Nullification

Breach of one condition of a commercial lease does not mean that termination of the agreement will always be legally justified. If a breach does not cause sufficient harm or damage to the interests of one party, a termination of the document may not be warranted in the eyes of Broward courts. A lease dispute lawyer must prove that the breach caused a material prejudice to the party seeking the termination. In addition, the court must consider whether forfeiture of the property would result in an unconscionable, inequitable or unjust eviction from a dwelling in Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood.

Certain conditions of a commercial lease may be implied even if they are not expressly spelled out in an agreement. One implied condition in a commercial lease is the right of a tlessee to quiet and peaceable possession and enjoyment of property. If a landlord’s actions make it essentially impossible for the tenant to have quiet and peaceable possession of the leased property, a tenant may be justified in seeking to break the lease even if there is no language in the agreement specifically prohibiting the lessor's actions.

Each commercial lease is unique to the individuals and entities involved. Prematurely breaking a commercial lease without legal grounds to do so will likely have lasting negative legal ramifications and result in damaged business relationships. An individual or entity seeking to prematurely terminate a commercial lease should promptly consult with legal counsel. A more favorable and cost-effective solution for premature termination of a commercial lease may be to attempt negotiation, through counsel, of a mutually satisfactory agreement to terminate. If you are considering the termination of a commercial agreement, you should contact an attorney experienced in disputes involving leases in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and throughout Broward County.

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