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Joshua M. Bowman quoted in MLW on court ruling to grant rent relief to commercial tenant closed by COVID-19 shutdown

February 22, 2021

Joshua M. Bowman, chair of the firm’s Hospitality Practice Group, was quoted in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (MLW) on February 18, 2020. The article, “Landmark COVID ruling roils commercial leasing bar,” details a Superior Court Judge’s recent ruling on the impact state-ordered shutdowns have on a business’s obligation to pay rent since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and how that affects commercial leasing.

Read the full article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscriber content).

From the article:

“Joshua M. Bowman, a commercial real estate attorney in Boston, echoed that sentiment, calling Caffé Nero a ‘total game changer’ for both landlords and tenants.

‘This is a sweeping decision that opens the door to a lot more litigation in Massachusetts,’ Bowman said. ‘A lot of attorneys who represent tenants are cheering this decision and getting ready to make the same argument that was made in this case.’

… Bowman said use provisions like the one at issue in Caffé Nero are commonplace in commercial leases.

‘Sophisticated landlords draft these highly specific use clauses in almost all of their leases,’ Bowman said. ‘In this situation, the court used the specificity of that clause to find Governor Baker’s executive order frustrated the purpose of the lease.’

… While Bowman said that Salinger was ‘spot on’ in terms of his legal analysis, he questioned whether the decision is a good result from a policy perspective.

‘This is a terrible decision for landlords,’ Bowman said. ‘The government has come in and prohibited the use allowed in the lease, which is a clear case of frustration of purpose.'”