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New York Commercial Landlords Have No Mitigation Duty

December 15, 2017 Posted in Landlord/Tenant Law

In the state of New York, commercial landlords do not have a duty to mitigate their damages when a tenant is delinquent in their payments, vacates their property, and breaks their existing lease.  This is an incredibly favorable state of affairs for the commercial landlord, as the tenant cannot undermine the damage claim of the landlord (in a lawsuit to recover unpaid rent) by asserting that the landlord failed to make reasonable efforts to find a suitable replacement tenant.

Has your tenant abandoned their lease?  You may be entitled to recover damages as a result.  Call (212) 374-9790 to get connected to one of the experienced New York real estate attorneys here at Griffin Alexander, P.C.

To truly understand the value of lack of a duty to mitigate damages in the context of a tenant vacating a rental property, it’s important to understand the duty to mitigate.  So, what is the duty to mitigate?

In many other states, such as New Jersey, the duty to mitigate requires that — when a tenant abandons their lease — the landlord make active efforts to find a replacement tenant and thus “mitigate” their damages.  For example, if a tenant abandons their yearlong lease halfway, the landlord must attempt to find a replacement tenant before the lease term expires.  If the landlord were to sue for the full six months of unpaid rent, the tenant would most likely argue that the landlord did not make reasonable efforts to find a replacement tenant.

The duty to mitigate can be further complicated by the need to find an “adequate” replacement tenant.  Finding a replacement in a timely manner may require that the rental rate be discounted.  If the rental rate is discounted too much, however, then the replacement tenant may be deemed inadequate (and a failure of the duty to mitigate).

Fortunately for commercial landlords in the state of New York, there is no duty to mitigate damages when a tenant vacates the property and breaks their lease.  This makes the recovery process substantially simpler.

Let’s return to the previous example.  Suppose that your commercial tenant has abandoned their yearlong lease halfway through.  In New York, you are not required to even make attempts to find a replacement tenant.  The landlord may choose not to find a replacement tenant at all, and may simply sue the tenant for the full amount of unpaid rent remaining on the lease.

If you are a commercial landlord in New York and are dealing with a delinquent tenant who has prematurely vacated a rental property, you are entitled to recover damages for unpaid rent.  In doing so, you are not required to mitigate your losses (unlike other states, such as New Jersey), thus ensuring a full recovery.  When pursuing a claim against a tenant, it’s important that you work with an attorney who has experience handling New York landlord tenant law.  Let the skilled attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. assist you!

Call (212) 374-9790 to speak with one of our attorneys today.

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