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Landlord Waiver Agreement in Favor of Tenant’s Lender

As noted in part 1 of this article, the tenant’s lenders will also want a security interest in the tenant’s personal property to secure the repayment of the tenant’s loan obligations, creating a conflict between the lien rights of the landlord and the lender. Because of this conflict, as a condition to the financing, a lender will typically request that the landlord execute a waiver of its security interest.

Banks that provide financing for commercial tenants and the real estate landlords for those same tenants both want additional security in the tenant's personal property located at the premises. The interests of the landlord and the lender are in conflict. The landlord is looking to secure the tenant's rental obligations by taking a lien against the tenant's fixtures, inventory, and equipment located in the space, which may be particularly valuable in the case of certain retail, restaurant or industrial tenants. At the same time, the tenant’s lender providing tenant improvement and/or working capital financing desires a security interest in the same property. A landlord’s lien may be created, depending on the state, under statutory lien rights, the common law, or by contract under the terms of the lease, and gives the landlord the right to levy the property located at the demised premises of a defaulting tenant.

In Part 1 of this series, the definition of guaranty and the means for landlords to enforce guaranties was discussed.

Recognizing that the guaranty is a condition to entering into a lease, and its leverage is limited, the guarantor would still like to limit its exposure under a long-term lease. At the same time, the landlord wants the security of an unlimited and unconditional guaranty, at least until such time as the tenant has a track record of success or can provide better financials. Because these competing interests are critical business terms, any attempts at limiting the guaranty need to be raised early in the lease negotiation process by tenant and preferably at the time of the negotiation of the letter of intent.

As a condition to entering into a new lease, landlords often require a guaranty of lease from a personal or corporate guarantor in connection with those tenant entities that do not have either a high enough net worth or annual revenue, or for whatever other reasons do not meet the landlord’s financial criteria. A guaranty of lease is a covenant by the guarantor to be responsible for the obligations of the tenant. For example, for a tenant business set up as a new limited liability company that has one or two principal owners, the landlord will likely require that the owners personally guaranty the tenant’s obligations under the lease since the limited liability company would have little or no assets and no track record. Or for a tenant entity that is a wholly owned subsidiary of a parent corporation, the landlord will likely require that the parent corporation serve as the guarantor.

Part one of this post explained acceleration of rent provisions and how various courts around the country have scrutinized these provisions and taken varying positions on their enforceability and validity. Part two of this post, below, will discuss how landlords can include enforceable acceleration of rent provisions in their leases.

After first taking into account the laws of the applicable jurisdiction, the landlord needs to carefully review the proposed acceleration of rents provision to verify its enforceability under such law. Revising a potentially unenforceable clause to a simple and more reasonable approach could be beneficial to all parties.