The Third Department, affirming Supreme Court, found plaintiffs-landlord had accepted defendant-tenant’s surrender of the premises by operation of law. The tenant, upon sufficient notice to the landlord, had moved most of its operation to a new location but continued to pay rent. The landlord then rented parts of the premises to two new tenants and changed the locks so defendant could not access the premises. At that point the tenant stopped paying rent and the landlord sued for the rent for the remaining portion of the lease. The court explained the elements of “surrender by operation of law:”
“A surrender by operation of law occurs when the parties to a lease both do some act so inconsistent with the landlord-tenant relationship that it indicates their intent to deem the lease terminated” … . A surrender by operation of law is inferred from the conduct of the parties, namely, the tenant’s abandonment of the demised premises and the landlord’s acceptance thereof; whether a surrender by operation of law has occurred in a particular case is generally a factual determination … .
Here, defendant established that plaintiffs relet parts of the premises without notice to defendant and refused to provide defendant with a key to the remaining premises, after having changed the locks. Plaintiffs also placed all the utility accounts in their own names. Plaintiffs’ assertion that a question of fact was raised as to whether there was construction in the leased premises precluding defendant’s use is unavailing. By their own account, plaintiffs refused to provide defendant with new keys and access to the “area in question” due to “ongoing construction” and liability concerns. Whether or not plaintiffs were simply replacing a generator outside the leased premises does not alter their refusal to allow defendant access to the premises. Nor do we overlook the fact that, in their complaint, plaintiffs seek to recover the full rent payable under the lease, without offset for rent received from the two new tenants … . Fragomeni v Aim Servs., Inc., 2016 NY Slip Op 00563, 3rd Dept 1-28-16
LANDLORD-TENANT (SURRENDER BY OPERATION OF LAW)/SURRENDER BY OPERATION OF LAW (LANDLORD-TENANT)