May. 17, 2022

Lease Agreements and Attorney Review: Invest Now or Later

A SPECIAL REPORT by Tripp Scott's Matthew Zifrony as published in the FLORIDA TREND

A current or prospective tenant is presented with a lease contract with
several seemingly untenable terms. The landlord says the contract is non-negotiable. The tenant takes him at his word, quickly signs and returns the contract, and hopes nothing bad arises.

Nothing bad may happen. But the future is left to chance, in part because the tenant didn’t have an attorney review the lease contract. Whether to save money or because he felt such review was not necessary, without attorney review, the tenant has opened
himself up to potential and expensive complications down the road. 

In the current commercial real estate market, where rental properties are at a premium, landlords are in the driver’s seat. The contracts they present often are “take it or leave it.” Yet, whether complex or cookie cutter, lease agreements could benefit from an attorney’s review.

Recent examples include landlords requiring tenants to take over sub-par properties in as-is condition, which in one case included the tenant assuming responsibility for code violations. In another matter, a landlord included a clause giving him the power to push out the tenant's move-in date — more than once.

Questionable contracts aren’t limited to tenant leases. Architects,
contractors, and vendors will present proposals and contracts to tenants who may possess little knowledge about the services involved. Every significant, binding contract should be reviewed by an attorney.

Legal review is like insurance. The upfront investment may seem costly. However, attorneys skilled in contract negotiations and review may identify areas of concern and open the door for negotiation of more favorable terms. Attorney review may not resolve such issues or get the landlord to remove the questionable clauses. It likely will,
however, help make the tenant aware of any issues before signing.

If the client is confident in negotiating the terms, the attorney can still review the contract and advise the client how to respond to any areas of concern. Or the attorney can be the client’s “face” in the transaction, negotiating on behalf of the client and brokering lease terms.

This can be especially helpful if the tenant is not currently in the local
market and could benefit from a local representative. A local commercial attorney may have past working relationships with the landlord’s counsel. If the tenant and landlord are in conflict over certain terms; the attorneys can help seek compromise without conflict.

It is not the attorney’s job to tell the client what they should or shouldn’t do. The attorney presents the benefits and risks in the given scenario. Ultimately, it’s up to the client to make an informed decision. This can bring peace of mind, and help leave “chance” out of the equation.



Manooch T. Azizi Appointed Legal Counsel to Hispanic Unity of Florida’s Board of Directors

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 1, 2022 – Tripp Scott, P.A. is proud to announce that Manooch T. Azizi, an attorney with the firm, has been appointed legal counsel to Hispanic Unity of  Florida's (HUF) Board of Directors.

For more than 20 years, Tripp Scott attorneys have been the pro bono legal counsel for Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc., beginning with the firm's COO Paul Lopez. Manooch T. Azizi joins Charles M. Tatelbaum, Director for Tripp Scott, who is a past Board Chair of HUF and currently an emeritus member of the HUF Board and serves on the Board’s finance committee. 

Remember ‘It’s the economy, stupid’? Well, guess what? It still is

As Published in the Miami Herald

Political enthusiasts will recall the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign’s watchword: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Households across the country are concerned with inflation. Consumer prices are at a four-decade high, led by gasoline, which has doubled in price since January 2021. Investment portfolios are slashed in half. Meat, poultry, fish, and egg prices are up by more than 14% year over year. Producer price indexes indicate that we can expect further trouble ahead.

A Mortgage Statement May be Deemed a Communication Under the FDCPA and FCCPA

A SPECIAL REPORT by Tripp Scott's Chuck Tatelbaum and Corey Cohen

In a question of first impression in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia, and Alabama), the court was presented with the question of whether monthly mortgage statements were communications in connection with the collection of a debt under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). In classic lawyer language, the answer is “it depends.” Although this seemingly equivocal response may leave lenders and their professionals to speculate as to a particular result, in this instance, the court determined that it may be subject to both statutes because the monthly mortgage statement stated it was an attempt to collect a debt, asked for payment, and threatened a late fee if not paid timely. Since many mortgage and other loan statements have all or part of this verbiage as standard “boilerplate” language, the decision needs to be a wake-up call for lenders and their attorneys.

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