Commercial Landlord’s Rights and Duties

It is rare for a commercial lease not to be contained in a written document. To determine the rights and duties of a landlord, the provisions of the written lease agreement should be examined by experienced counsel.

A landlord of commercial property who is not paid for rent may initiate a detainer action to recover possession of its property and to obtain a money judgment against the tenant for unpaid rent as well as for any other amounts owed by the tenant pursuant to the commercial lease agreement.

Many commercial leases require the tenant to repair and to maintain the premises or the premises less certain specifically identified structural elements of the premises (e.g., walls, roof, and plumbing systems). In the unlikely event that there is no contract or agreement between the landlord and tenant related to maintenance and repairs, in Tennessee, the tenant is responsible for all repairs and maintenance required for the leased property.

Besides complying with the terms of the lease, a tenant of commercial property in Tennessee must not allow waste of the leased property. For example, unless a lease provides to the contrary, the tenant must not permit trees on the property to be cut and removed. A tenant is under a duty not to create a nuisance by its use of the leased property. For example, a tenant, absent a contrary provision in the lease, may not allow noxious orders, water, or unruly customers to go onto the property of other tenants or property owners and disturb them. Lastly, a tenant must not negligently damage the leased property, although in most commercial leases, a tenant is not responsible for damage that falls in the category of ordinary wear and tear.