Landlord Changes Corridor, Tenant Has Difficulty Accessing Space

Sometimes when one tenant needs to expand its space, it can turn out to be another tenant’s nightmare. For instance, creating additional tenant space may require reconstruction of common areas—for example, a hall may be need to be narrowed or a public entrance may need to be moved—which could affect access to the tenant’s premises. If the other tenant doesn’t like these plans will it be able to block them? The fate depends on the how much leeway the landlord has given itself in the leases it signed with these tenants.

Case in point: The owner of a Chicago office building leased one-third of a floor to Tenant A. A straight corridor, approximately 8 feet wide and 50 feet long led directly from the elevator to Tenant A’s space. Space on the west side of the corridor was leased to Tenant B, and space on the east side of the corridor was vacant.

Tenant B decided to expend into the vacant space on the east side of the corridor. To provide Tenant B with one continuous space, the owner decided to reroute the corridor. Instead of going straight to Tenant A’s door, the corridor would not travel around the boundary of Tenant B’s space and be two feet narrower.

Tenant A went to court seeking to stop the owner from making these corridor changes. But the court ruled that the owner could change the corridor because the lease said: “Landlord shall have the right at any time, without the same constituting an eviction and without incurring liability to Tenant therefore, to change the arrangement and/or location of public entrances, passages, doors, doorways, corridors, elevators, stairs, toilets, or other public parts of the Building.” Because the landlord’s leases had this clear right, it was able to expand the space.