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Scott Mollen

Commercial Landlord-Tenant—Tenant Violated lease by Operating Unlicensed Catering Facility and Created a Public or Private Nuisance—Events With Large Gatherings During Pandemic Created Public Health Hazard—Tenant Also Defaulted on Rent Obligation—Defense Witness Testified There Was No Alcohol Served or Brought in to Weddings, Engagement Parties or Super Bowl Parties Held at the Premises—Defendant Must Have Thought That the Judge “Just fell of the proverbial turnip truck”

A landlord and a tenant entered into a lease for a five-year term. The permitted use was for “a restaurant.” The tenant, in addition to paying a monthly rent of $4,000.00, was to be responsible for real estate taxes, late fees “in the amount of 10 percent of the monthly rent,” as well as legal fees if the tenant defaulted and the landlord was required to commence or defend an action or proceeding resulting from the default.

The landlord alleged that the tenant had utilized the premises as an event space within which to host various parties and large gatherings” in violation of the lease use provision, which provided for restaurant use. The landlord asserted that the tenant’s use was “tantamount to an unauthorized sublet.” The landlord further alleged that the tenant failed to comply with legal requirements applicable to its use, that the tenant failed to vacate after expiration of deadlines set forth in predicate notices and that the tenant had failed to cure the lease violations.

The landlord had commenced a summary eviction holdover proceeding. The tenant asserted numerous affirmative defenses which were “mainly devoid of facts and based upon alleged procedural deficiencies.” At trial, the court found that the tenant’s alleged improper conduct continued post-petition. The court described such activities as “a continuing pattern of practice.”

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