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Commercial Landlord/Tenant Law | May 2017

Commercial Lease Enforcement: Surrender vs. Abandonment

If a tenant abandons the property, the landlord must either accept the abandonment and treat it as a surrender or pursue the available legal remedies.

In certain circumstances, the relationship between the landlord and the tenant may be such that, despite a material breach of the lease, the landlord does not want to pursue legal remedies against the tenant for future rental amounts. Under that scenario, the landlord can accept a surrender of the premises by the tenant.

When a tenant surrenders the premises to the landlord, the tenant remains liable to the landlord for all amounts currently due and owing under the lease but will be relieved from liability for any future rent.[1]

However, if the tenant attempts to surrender the premises and the landlord refuses to accept such surrender, the situation will be treated as an abandonment.[2] If the tenant is no longer occupying the premises and the landlord has not accepted a surrender thereof, an abandonment under the Lease has occurred.[3]

In such a case, the landlord must either accept the abandonment and treat it as a surrender (discussed above), or proceed with such legal remedies available to the landlord under law or otherwise provided in the lease. (Those remedies will be discussed in a subsequent article.)

The bottom line is that, in the face of a tenant that either has relinquished, or is threatening to relinquish, all rights to the premises, the landlord must decide whether to allow it to occur or treat it as abandonment and hold the tenant liable under the lease.

[1] See Monaghan v. Barnes, 48 Ariz. 213, 61 P.2d 158 (1936).

[2] See Wingate v. Gin, 148 Ariz. 289, 714 P.2d 459 (App. 1985).

[3] See Gangadean v. Erickson, 17 Ariz. App. 131, 495 P.2d 1338 (App. 1972).