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Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

#CancelRent – What’s Next for Landlords?

Across the country, residential tenants, small businesses, and even national retailers such as Cheesecake Factory, Subway, and Mattress Firm have declared war on their landlords by refusing to pay rent on account of the Covid-19 pandemic (“COVID-19”). This has sent shockwaves through the real-estate industry. As of April 1st, residential tenants owe an estimated $40 Billion in rent. Estimates for the commercial sector are not far off.

So far, federal, state, and local measures have focused on providing relief to residential and commercial tenants and even to some commercial landlords.

Ohio Commercial Landlords, Tenants and Lenders:

On April 1, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine, signed Executive Order 2020-08D (the “Order”) which asks Ohio commercial landlords to suspend (or forbear) all rental obligations for small business tenants that are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The Order also requests commercial landlords to postpone any evictions proceedings for the next 90 days, regardless of whether such small business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. Finally, the Order requests all lenders to forbear commercial mortgage payments for the next 90 days.

For avoidance of any doubt, this is a request by the State of Ohio, not mandated. It is important to discuss with legal counsel how the Order should be interpreted and applied with respect to your tenants.

How Should Commercial Landlords Act?

  1. Review your lease agreements with counsel. Certain provisions may provide relief to tenants due to COVID-19. Such provisions may include:
    • Force majeure;
    • Tenant’s insurance obligations;
    • Anchor tenant / co-tenant requirements;
    • Rent abatement;
    • Premises access;
    • Continuous business operation; and
    • Eminent domain 
  1. Review loan agreements and consider options for deferment. Due to the Order, commercial lenders may be more willing to work with commercial landlords to defer mortgage payments. The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) in the CARES Act will provide small business tenants an influx of capital to make their lease payments, which will support requests for deferment. Large anchor tenants not qualifying for the PPP, however, will pose a greater challenge to commercial landlords and lenders in the short term. Communication, cooperation, and the development of a plan to mitigate potential risks will be key.
  1. Consider forbearance and other workout strategies. As discussed above, forbearance agreements can be entered into between commercial landlords and tenants. Forbearance agreements can specify that any COVID-19 relief proceeds obtained by tenants shall be remitted to commercial landlords, which include any SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan proceeds. Commercial landlords can also condition entering into a forbearance agreement upon tenants applying for such COVID-19 relief proceeds. Further, commercial landlords should ensure the terms and conditions of such agreements remain confidential. Other workout strategies can include: monthly rental reductions for a period of a time and/or allowing tenants to apply their security deposit to monthly rent.

How Should Residential Landlords Act?

The CARES Act provides borrowers, landlords and tenants with certain protections including mortgage forbearance, foreclosure moratorium and eviction protection.

Mortgage Forbearance

Single-family borrowers with federally backed mortgages experiencing financial hardship related to COVID-19 are eligible for mortgage forbearance regardless of delinquency status. Upon request, forbearance shall be granted for up to 180 days and can be extended for up to an additional 180 days under certain circumstances. In such case, no additional fees, penalties, or interest outside of normally scheduled terms may be levied on the borrower.

Multifamily borrowers with a federally backed multifamily mortgage that remained current on payments as of February 1, 2020, may also submit a forbearance request to their servicer affirming financial hardship due to COVID-19. Upon request, servicers will be required to document the hardship and provide forbearance for up to 30 days and extend that forbearance period for up to two (2) additional 30-day periods. A multifamily borrower that receives forbearance may not, for the duration of the forbearance period, evict or initiate an eviction against a tenant for nonpayment of rent or other fees.

Foreclosure Moratorium

With the exception of vacant properties, servicers of federally backed mortgages cannot initiate a foreclosure, move for a foreclosure or order of sale, or execute a foreclosure sale between March 18, 2020, and May 17, 2020.

Eviction Protection

For the period of 120 days after the enactment of the CARES Act, the landlord of a covered dwelling cannot notice or initiate an eviction action to recover possession from a tenant for nonpayment of rent, fees or other charges.

A covered dwelling includes properties with a federally backed mortgage or multifamily mortgage, properties participating in a covered housing program included in the Violence Against Women Act, and properties participating in the rural housing voucher program.

Conclusion

Residential landlords and residential tenants should consult with their counsel concerning their rights and options under the CARES Act and applicable Ohio law. Commercial landlords, commercial tenants, and lenders should consult with their counsel concerning potential forbearance and/or other alternatives regarding payment of rentals and mortgages.

For more information or questions regarding this Client Alert, please contact any of the members of BMD’s Real Estate Group – Jason Butterworth, Blake Gerney, Kyle Johnson, Michael De Matteis, Justin Lovdahl, or Nicholas Karam.

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.

Property Owner Protection from Tax Valuation Challenges

New legislation provides significant new protections for commercial property owners against challenges to valuation primarily by local school boards and prohibiting side agreements to avoid tax valuation changes. The Ohio Legislature has approved House Bill 126 which will go into effect July 2022 but will effectively apply to the 2023 tax valuation year.