Eminent Domain: When Tenants and Landlords Should Work Together

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Eminent Domain When Tenants and Landlords Should Work TogetherThe 202 Loop South Mountain Freeway project in Phoenix, Arizona, provides a poignant example of how Business Relocation Planning Services can help to improve the situation for both landlords and tenants who are being displaced by eminent domain.

The Loop 202 freeway, also known as the South Mountain Freeway, is part of a new freeway system being constructed in Phoenix. Businesses being displaced by the project include industries with very specific relocation demands such as cold storage, truck repair, truck services, manufacturing, and warehousing. I recently drove the North end of 59th and saw that the effected businesses were still in place.  This presented a good opportunity for pre-planning services for their eventual relocation. My article, 6 Benefits of Preplanning your Eminent Domain Relocation, will offer some insights into these services and the value that they bring to an eminent domain team.  The article explains that by the time a business has been made eligible for relocation benefits, it’s often times more difficult to prevail in non-standard or complex relocation situations.

I soon learned that the owners of many of the properties in question lease their buildings and properties to unrelated third party tenants. As a result, the owners were not encouraging their tenants to move. Naturally, the landlords want their tenants to remain for as long as possible. This is a common situation and follows the standard practice of dealing with landlord/tenant situations.  However, there are some alternatives to the standard practice that can be of substantial benefit to both parties.

When landlords and tenants work together, there are many advantages for both parties. I have extensive experience working with both sides of the fence—with both the displaced businesses and also with the displacing public agencies—and many times cooperation between the landlord and the tenant can benefit both parties.  This is often related to the method of treatment of fixtures and working with the displacing public agency.

I have encountered situations where, following the standard practice, each party made separate plans with no attempt to explore strategic cooperation. This can make a difference of millions of dollars. In one instance, this led to lost rent for the landlord and loss of tenant relocation benefits of more than $2.5 million dollars. Strategic planning and cooperation between the two parties could have brought additional rental income to the landlord and maintained the tenant’s eligibility for the $2.5 million in relocation benefits.

Tenants are typically obligated to pay their rent through the end of the lease term or until the time of the actual property taking, whichever occurs first.  Long-term and month-to-month tenants will lose their relocation benefits if they move prior to the agency’s real property purchase offer to the property owner, which encourages the tenants to stay at least until that time.

The landlords will have less leverage to hold on to month-to-month tenants after the State has made its offer. It’s far more strategic for the landlord and tenant to have a plan in place before the time of the offer.

I’ve had excellent results obtaining improved relocation benefits or cost-to-cure payments for landlords and tenants who work together. I specialize in conducting preliminary relocation planning services for businesses that will be displaced by a public project.  Utilizing our preplanning services for business relocation while following relocation guidelines based on the Uniform Act nearly always improves the outcome of the relocation.

Attorneys may wonder how this scenario applies to them and to their clients. Attorneys who have extended these services to their owner or tenant clients have found that they are able to recover more funds for the real property acquisition and relocation of their clients.  They have also been able to improve client acquisitions and client satisfaction.

photo credit: Jeroen van Oostrom via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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