Is Coronavirus an Act of God?

I was working an office rep tenant deal of mine last week when we came across a new conundrum. I was on a call with my client and the contractor who was building out the space. The contractor was bemoaning how the Coronavirus is having a big impact on his ability to get supplies out of China, specifically the virus was delaying delivery of some key lighting controls.

It was looking like we were going to miss the critical date to move into the office space. The rent clock was going to start clicking and we’d be paying a lot of money in office rent for space that wasn’t going to be ready.

It occurred to me that there was a clause in the lease that allows for delays as a result of acts of God. This language is common. You see it in almost every type of contract. I’ve never given it much thought. I usually equate it to natural disasters such as hurricanes. I thought about pursuing this line of argument on behalf of my client, but luckily the three of us were able to come up with a workaround using temporary light switches to deliver the space on time.

So, through substitution the problem was solved. But that still leaves the question: Is the Coronavirus an act of God? What are you experiencing? Have you encountered delays or other real estate-related problems because of this virus? Has anyone sought and found relief from problems caused by the Coronavirus? What about my lawyer friends out there, can you weigh in? I’d love to answer this question in my next newsletter.

In the meanwhile, creative problem solving such as coming up with our workaround is how I help my clients deal with the unexpected. If you are interested in me helping you navigate surprises, email or book a call with me.

Real estate transactions can be fraught with frustration and pitfalls.

Sometimes the hardest part turns out to be working with your broker, the person who is supposed to help you through the complexities. Veteran commercial real estate broker and client advisor John Culbertson discovered that brokers’ interests aren’t always aligned with those of their clients. He realized there was a better way to advocate for clients and get the deal done.


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