Commercial Eviction Actions Suspended for Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Governor Ducey's Executive Order suspends, until May 31, 2020, commercial eviction actions against tenants unable to pay rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.
On April 6, 2020, Governor Doug Ducey issued
Executive Order 2020-21
("Order"), which postpones until May 31, 2020, commercial eviction actions
for Arizona small businesses and nonprofits that have been affected during
the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are key details of the Order.
Suspends commercial eviction actions until May 31, 2020
The Order suspends until May 31, 2020, commercial eviction actions against
tenants unable to pay rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19. A
commercial eviction action includes a lockout, notice to vacate, or any
other attempt to inhibit the operations of a business.
Applies only to small businesses eligible for the Paycheck Protection
The Order applies only to small businesses eligible for the federal
Protection Program (PPP), which generally means businesses with fewer
than 500 employees. This means that any marijuana business is excluded,
because those businesses are likely not eligible for the PPP.
Encourages landlords to defer rent payments and work with tenants to waive
fees and develop rent repayment plans
The Order encourages landlords to "consider" deferring or adjusting rent
payments for tenants who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19. The Order
"encourages" landlords to work with tenants to waive late fees, penalties
and interest associated with late rent payments, and develop rent repayment
Encourages lenders to consider a forbearance
The Order encourages lenders to "consider providing an opportunity for a
forbearance for any commercial real estate borrower that has suspended any
action under the provisions described in this order."
It is an open question whether the Governor has the authority to order
lenders to agree to relief for borrowers, but by simply encouraging and not
requiring lenders to do so, the Order puts commercial property owners in the
difficult position of being unable to enforce lease terms against delinquent
tenants while not having any protection against lenders seeking to enforce
the terms of any mortgage on the property.
Tenants must notify landlords in writing
The Order requires a commercial tenant who is seeking relief due to COVID-19
to (a) notify its landlord in writing "as soon as practicable" with
supporting documentation and (b) acknowledge that the contractual terms of
the lease remain in effect.
Tenants must use a portion of federal assistance for rent
The Order requires tenants to use a portion of any financial assistance
received (i.e. PPP loans) for rent payments and states that landlords may
not require that tenants apply any specific percentage or amount. The CARES
Act requires that at least 75% of PPP loan proceeds be used for payroll
purposes, and this Order does not supersede that requirement.
Tenant still has obligation to pay rent
The Order is clear that that it does not relieve a tenant "of the obligation
to pay rent" nor does it allow a tenant to not comply "with any other
obligation that a business may have under a lease or rental agreement."
If you are an owner of commercial rental properties, are a lender with
commercial rental properties as collateral for your loan, or have questions
about these eviction restrictions, Sacks Tierney attorneys are available to
provide advice on these matters.
For Governor Ducey's Executive Order on residential properties, see Sacks
Tierney's article on restrictions on esidential evictions.
The Paycheck Protection Program was passed on March 27, 2020 as a part of
the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, otherwise known as
the CARES Act.
The Order includes a list of businesses generally eligible for the PPP
program and this list includes sole proprietor, partnership, C-corporation, S-corporation,
LLC, independent contractor, self-employed individual, 50l(c)(3) organization, 50l(c)(19) organization, Tribal businesses.