In a case of interest to commercial landlords and tenants, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled that where a commercial lease is self-renewing but can be terminated on six-months’ notice to the other side, the party seeking to terminate – in this case the tenant – has the burden of proving it timely exercised its right.
Patriot Power, LLC v. New Rounder, LLC is a classic “she said-she said” dispute. The parties’ lease provided that it would automatically renew for successive terms of one year unless either party served on the other written notice of its intent not to renew at least six months before the expiration of the then-current term. About two weeks before the six-month deadline, the tenant sent the landlord a Federal Express envelope containing documents the landlord had requested in connection with its refinancing of the property. At trial, the tenant’s executive assistant testified that she had “no doubt at all” that, in addition to the refinancing documents,