Nov 30, 2020

The Property Line Podcast - Season 1: Retail Leasing in the Pandemic

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The Property Line is a brief and lively discussion of the biggest issues facing the commercial real estate industry. The podcast will deliver insights from Seyfarth’s real estate lawyers and other industry leaders on current market trends and how they impact all facets of commercial real estate.

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Season 1: Retail Leasing in the Pandemic

This multipart series explores the impact of COVID-19 on commercial leasing and examines new retail leasing issues that will likely live on well past the pandemic. The series is led by Eric Greenberg and James O’Brien, two Seyfarth real estate attorneys who handle commercial real estate issues for some of the nation’s largest retailers and landlords.

Episode 1: State of the Retail Leasing Market

As the pandemic and its effects linger, it’s important for retailers and their landlords to think about long-term solutions that will enable retailers to continue operating in an environment of depressed retail demand. This episode discusses:

  • Emerging trends in rent relief amendments
  • Long-term considerations in lease amendments
  • How restaurants are preparing for Winter and outdoor dining options
  • How the delayed return of office workers will impact retailers

Episode 2: What’s an Eviction Moratorium and How Does it Affect Me?

Since the onset of COVID-19, many states and municipalities have passed a patchwork of eviction moratoriums aimed at providing rent relief to residential and commercial tenants. This episode discusses common misconceptions and important nuances of the eviction moratorium, including:

  • What exactly does an eviction moratorium do? Hint: it doesn’t forgive rent.
  • Do eviction moratoriums apply to commercial tenants or just residential tenants?
  • Do eviction moratoriums block eviction lawsuits from proceeding? What are the important criteria for proving COVID-19 related hardship?
  • Will eviction moratoriums be extended through 2021?

In this podcast we reference the CREF State Eviction Moratorium Tracker produced by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Episode 3: Force Majeure and US Bankruptcy Case In re Hitz Restaurant Group

In February, Hitz Restaurant Group filed for bankruptcy and stopped paying rent. In March, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a government order to suspend food and beverage service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How was Hitz able to use the government order to trigger force majeure and to partially suspend its rent payments?

This episode discusses the details of this unique case, deconstructing the force majeure clause and highlighting best practices when drafting force majeure provisions.

Episode 4: Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19 Losses

COVID-19 restrictions imposed throughout the United States have resulted in business interruption losses in nearly every industry. Many insurance companies have denied coverage for COVID-19 business interruption losses, and policy holders have filed lawsuits seeking coverage. Courts are beginning to weigh in on whether business interruption insurance coverage will cover financial losses due to COVID-19. Rebecca Woods, Litigation partner, joins this episode for a discussion on:

  • How business interruption and contingent business interruption insurance work
  • Lawsuits and emerging trends
  • Physical loss vs. physical damage claims
  • Best practices and how policy-holders can position claims for success

Episode 5: COVID-19 Liability Shield Legislation

As the pandemic rages on, retailers that are operating face the threat of negligence claims by customers and vendors alleging a failure by the retailers to protect them from the spread of the virus. Although congress has resisted liability shield legislation at the Federal level, a handful of states have enacted a variety of different liability shield laws aimed at protecting businesses against COVID-19 related claims. Rebecca Woods, a Seyfarth Litigation partner, returns this episode for a discussion on:

  • The purpose of liability shield laws
  • Limitations to, and compliance requirements for, liability shields
  • The importance of CDC guidelines and established safety policies
  • Potential COVID-19 liability claims and what we can learn from ADA compliance claims

Stay tuned for Season 2: Real Estate Financing in the Pandemic.