Don't Sign Lease that Deprives You of Time to Cure Violation

Don’t sign a lease that deprives you of a period of time to cure an alleged lease violation. Otherwise, you could easily end up in default and then subject to the owner’s harsh default remedies, such as the right to evict you from your space.

Most standard lease forms contain cure periods, but some owners remove them. And many tenants don’t recognize the impact of the lack of cure periods until it’s too late. Without cure periods, you could be left in a precarious position. For example, you may be unable to prevent eviction while you’re in court disputing the owner’s default claim against you. And a court may refuse to come to your rescue.

A New York City tenant learned this lesson the hard way. Its lease said that if the tenant defaulted in paying rent, the owner could reenter the space, without notice, to evict the tenant through a quick legal proceeding. And the lease said the tenant waived getting notice of the owner’s intention to reenter its space or to start eviction proceedings.

The tenant argued that the lease was “unconscionable”—that is, shockingly unfair—because it didn’t give the tenant a cure period when it could have tried to avoid an eviction if it was late in paying rent.

A New York court ruled that the lease wasn’t unfair. The court noted that commercial owners and tenants can freely waive or modify their lease obligations and rights—including cure periods—“unless doing so is illegal, unconscionable, or against public policy.” Here, the lease was a “fully negotiated contract between represented parties,” said the court. So its provisions were enforceable by the owner [Queen Art Publishers, Inc. v. Animazing Gallery, Inc., February 2002].