November 17, 2020

The key to a successful landlord and tenant relationship

A recent profile of Bricks Need Mortar in the Portland Business Journal caught my attention.

The importance of small business, retailers in particular, is front and center at NAI Elliott. As a firm that has had retail tenants and landlords at the center of our business for more than 35 years, we recognize the ways in which the success of these businesses are fundamental to the local economy and the financial backbone to the families they employ and sustain. We are fully supportive of small business advocacy efforts, including Bricks Need Mortar.

However, the anti-landlord sentiment expressed in this interview requires a response. The notion that landlords are only influenced by legislation misses the reality on the ground that we have seen for many years, particularly during the pandemic. Referring to a tenant with an eight year, $800,000 liability with a personal guarantee, Sarah Shoal comments, "If I'm the landlord, there's no reason for me to negotiate with you." Our experience with landlord/tenant negotiations has been the opposite. The landlords that we represent, the majority of whom are locally based, understand that if a business fails it benefits no one. Overwhelmingly, our landlords are working proactively with tenants to make adjustments that will keep them viable during this unprecedented time. To cast landlords in a monolithic and greedy way does not accurately reflect their nuanced understanding of how interconnected the landlord/tenant relationship is when it comes to a successful commercial real estate enterprise.

In a polarizing time it is more important than ever to resist “us and them” and focus on how we do this together. We facilitate these interactions on both sides every day at NAI Elliott, representing tenants in negotiations with landlords and negotiating leases on behalf of property owners. We believe that a mutual understanding and respect between tenants and landlords is more necessary now than ever.

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