Yellowstone Expansion Post-Covid

06 Mar , 2024

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As commercial leasing practitioners and real estate professionals know, the New York City leasing market remains extremely turbulent, as societal and market changes arising from the COVID-19 global pandemic reshape the city’s office market. 

Before the pandemic, the courts had been slowly restricting the circumstances when Yellowstone relief was applicable, culminating in the New York Court of Appeals decision in 159 MP Corp. v. Redbridge Bedford, LLC, 33 N.Y.3d 353 (2019). That decision held that parties could waive injunctive relief, including a Yellowstone injunction-originally created in First Nat. Stores, Inc. v. Yellowstone Shopping Ctr., Inc., 21 N.Y.2d 630 (1968), and the most powerful weapon in a commercial tenant's arsenal to combat leasehold forfeiture-where the parties' lease expressly carved out such relief. 

It is important to understand this holding, and the subsequent legislative response specifically overturning that holding through enactment of Real Property Law (RPL) § 235-h. Now, the latest post-COVID decisions, when viewed collectively with the most recent developments in statutory authority, reflect the degree to which the pendulum has swung back in favor of granting Yellowstone relief under the more traditional analytical lens originally embodied in cases such as Graubard v. 600 Third Ave., 93 N.Y.2d 508 (1999).

 

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