A is for Apple And Also Attornment

Posted by Lee Sterling | Posted in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Landlord-Tenant, Legal, Miscellaneous, Negotiation, North County, Oceanside, Real Estate, San Diego | Posted on 30-10-2009

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We now get to the A of SNDAs (Subordination, Non-disturbance, and Attornment Agreements in leases.) First a brief recap of Subordination and Non-Disturbance. You may remember from our previous articles that if you’re a tenant, and you’ve agreed to subordinate your interest in the lease to any mortgage, trust deed of other security device, and the holder of one of those security devices forecloses, your lease may be terminated. Leases usually provide for that subordination to security devises even if they are created after the lease commences. The non-disturbance clause protects you in the event of a foreclosure (or in the event the property is sold to another owner) by providing that if you’re not in default you’ll be able to keep your lease in effect.

The attornment clause stems from the old feudal law that there was a personal obligation between the lord of the manor and his tenants, and that those obligations were reciprocal. The consent of the lord was required for a sale of the tenant’s interest, and the consent of the tenant was required for alienation (sale/transfer) of the reversion or remainder interest in the property. Thus, the lord could not alienate his reversion or remainder interest without the consent of the tenant. The consent was called an attornment. The necessity for an attornment was abolished before the American Revolution by the English Statute of Anne. In California, the common law rule eliminating the requirement of attornment has been confirmed by statute. However, just to be sure, leases contain an attornment clause that provides that if title to the property is transferred by the Lessor or if title is acquired through foreclosure or termination of a Security Device the tenant will attorn to the new owner.

The language of the SNDA in each lease has to be examined carefully because there are differences that may result from the specific language of the three inter-related clauses. There are some interesting California cases involving the interpretation of SNDAs. Be sure to have the lease reviewed by California counsel before signing any lease.

Lee Sterling was a real estate lawyer in Colorado for 27 years. He is not licensed as an attorney in California. He does have a California real estate license # 01319489.

Tenant Protection When Landlord’s Property Is Foreclosed!

Posted by Lee Sterling | Posted in Landlord-Tenant, Legal | Posted on 20-05-2009

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I’ve mentioned the SNDA in previous posts (Subordination, Non-Disturbance, and Attornment). The ND portion refers to non-disturbance of the tenant’s right to have its lease recognized as valid in the event of the foreclosure of a senior trust deed. The S refers to the Subordination clause and the A refers to the Attornment clause. I’ll discuss the Subordination and Attornment clauses in separate blog posts. From the Tenant’s standpoint, the non-disturbance clause (“ND”) is most important.

The use of the Non-Disturbance Agreement depends on the timing of the recording of the trust deed and the recording date of the lease (or the recording of a Short Form Notice of Lease) ,collectively “Notice”. Usually neither the Tenant nor the Landlord want the whole lease recorded. The lease may or may not provide for the recording of a Short Form Notice of Lease. As a Tenant you may want a Notice recorded. Check with your attorney for advice.

California follows the race-notice theory of recording. The first legitimate document recorded has priority over subsequently recorded documents. If a trust deed is signed on January 2, but not immediately recorded, and the lease is signed on January 10 and its Notice is recorded on January 11, while the trust deed has not yet been recorded , the lease would have priority over the trust deed. If the trust deed were subsequently foreclosed, it would NOT have the right to evict the Tenant so long as the Tenant was not in default under the terms of the lease.

However, if the trust deed were RECORDED first the lease would be subject to the priority of the trust deed. If the trust deed were foreclosed, the foreclosing party could evict the Tenant! The reason most Tenants want the ND is that they usually have spent quite a bit of money on leasehold improvements, moving costs would adversely impact their bottom line, they may have spent substantial amounts branding their location, and they may be out of business while moving to a new location. A Non-Disturbance agreement should protect the Tenant in those circumstances.

Before entering into a lease, or when renegotiating a lease, the Tenant should determine whether or not there is a recorded trust deed encumbering the property. If there is, the Tenant should make it a condition of the lease that the Landlord provides a Non-Disturbance agreement signed by the lender. Obtaining a Non-Disturbance Agreement often depends on the negotiating position of the parties. A tenant leasing 1,000 square feet of retail space in a mall probably won’t be able to obtain the lender’s consent to a Non-Disturbance agreement. However, a major Tenant in a development should insist on an ND agreement. Merely having the ND clause in the lease will not protect the Tenant if the lender has not provided the signed agreement. The ND clause may provide that the Landlord will use its best efforts to obtain the lender’s Non-Disturbance Agreement. In the standard lease used by commercial brokers in Carlsbad and the rest of San Diego, the lease ND clause provides that if the landlord doesn’t obtain the ND agreement within 60 days, the Tenant may go directly to the lender to try to obtain the Agreement. Without the lender’s signed agreement, the Tenant is at risk. There are various forms of ND clauses and agreements. Be sure to have the language reviewed by your attorney if you want to protect your rights to retain your lease rights in the event of foreclosure.

If you have general questions about commercial leases, please send us a note at Lee@leesterling.com