NY High Court Voids Commercial Tenant’s Traditional Safety Net – Here’s How Landlords Can Take Advantage of This Ruling

Commercial tenants in New York have traditionally been able to secure a stay of summary dispossess proceedings brought against them and remain in occupancy pending the outcome of tenant-commenced litigation challenging the existence of a landlord-alleged default. Thanks to a recent landmark decision by New York’s highest court, this may no longer be the case if the lease contains the waiver language set forth below. When a landlord provides notice of an alleged default, tenants often seek a declaratory judgment as to the interpretation of the lease and whether a default exists, and also move for a Yellowstone injunction to toll any summary proceeding until the declaratory judgment action is completed. This effectively stays the summary dispossess proceedings. In 159 MP Corp., et al. v. Redbridge Bedford, LLC, the State of New York Court of Appeals addressed the enforceability of a commercial lease provision that prohibited the tenant from commencing a declaratory judgment action against the landlord with respect to any dispute regarding the lease. The Court rejected the tenant’s argument that the clause was void against public policy, finding the clause enforceable, based in large part on the sophistication of the parties and the “strong public policy favoring freedom...