Update from Archstone Law Group
Commercial Landlords’ Duty to Tenants Expanded
In March of this year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Bishop v. TES Realty Trust continued a trend of significantly expanding the duties of commercial landlords to their tenants and arming tenants with new rights. The Court ruled that a commercial landlord must exercise reasonable care to correct unsafe conditions within a tenant’s premises of which the landlord has received written notice from the tenant even if a lease places responsibility for these repairs on the tenant. If the landlord fails to meet its duty, the landlord is liable for the resulting tenant injuries and damages. The landlord can, however, charge the tenant for the cost of these repairs. The Court’s ruling retroactively applied statutory duties to commercial landlords that, until this case, had only been applied to landlords of most multi-family residential properties. Commercial landlords and tenants must now look beyond the written terms of their lease to determine responsibilities and rights. Landlords must now consider more carefully, and monitor more closely, the safety of conditions within the tenant’s premises.
Five Steps to Ensuring Your Company’s Legal Health
You go to the doctor every year for a check-up. Why not conduct an annual internal audit of your business to maintain its legal health?
Step 1: Maintaining and updating corporate records
Step 2: Evaluating and managing risk and insurance coverage
Step 3: Ensuring that the business complies with any licensing, permitting, zoning and other pertinent regulations
Step 4: Reviewing and renewing contracts between related parties such as partners or shareholders and third parties such as lenders or landlords
Step 5: Ensuring compliant recordkeeping, record retention and reporting
A good time to conduct the business audit is a few months prior to your annual meeting or other significant event such as the deadline to file taxes or the annual report. Any problems or issues that come to light can then be prioritized and addressed. Once you institutionalize the audit procedure, it will become a regular part of your business administration. The time you spend on the internal audit each year will add value to your business and help your business avoid costly and time-consuming legal problems that would otherwise drain company resources.
Spring is Here – Time to Clean Up Your Estate Plan
Spring is in the air and for many it’s a signal to clean up – the garage, the basement, the home office, etc. But what about that estate plan you did years ago that is sitting in some pile in the aforementioned basement or office? Your estate plan needs to stay current, so in many cases the will or trust you did way back when doesn’t quite work anymore. How do you know if your estate plan needs to be updated? Just take this simple test.
Since you completed your estate plan, which of the following are true:
- More than 5 years have passed
- You’ve gotten married or divorced
- You’ve had a child
- You’ve moved to a different state
- You’ve purchased a new life insurance policy
- You’ve set up a new retirement account (IRA, 401(k), pension, profit sharing)
- The value of your assets has changed significantly
- You’ve purchased a new primary residence or vacation home
If any one of the above statements is true, at a minimum you need to review your estate plan to make sure it still carries out your objectives. While an outdated estate plan is usually (but not always) better than no estate plan at all, bringing one up to date is often very simple and inexpensive.