Answers To Some Pressing Basic Commercial Issues Arising From COVID-19

03/24/2020 by Bryant C. McGann, Esq.

The legal landscape relating to the extraordinary measures taken in connection with COVID-19 is constantly changing. We will attempt to keep this page updated, but you should consult your attorney and tax advisor for the latest information.

General: There are thousands, and perhaps millions of small businesses in your same situation. We expect there to be comprehensive solutions forthcoming, or Bankruptcy Courts will have more patients than hospitals.

Do I have to pay my rent?  What if I can’t? 
At this time, we are not aware of any legal relief from the requirement to pay rent for commercial space.  If rent is not paid within any grace period, if any, then under most leases, the landlord can terminate the lease.

If you landlord terminates your lease, it is unlikely that even a Bankruptcy filing can revive it.   If a Bankruptcy petition is filed before the lease is terminated, the automatic stay would prevent the landlord form terminating the lease.

We recommend communicating with your landlord or tenant, as the case may be, regarding payment of rent, or partial rent, and how deferred rent will be handled.  Carefully document and confirm all agreements reached. 

Do I have to make my loan payment?
Again, at this time, we are not aware of any legal relief from the requirement to pay principal and interest due on commercial loans.  However, we understand that many Banks are working with regulators for a relief package which would delay the payment of principal and interest during the crisis.

We recommend communicating with your lender and carefully document and confirm any agreement. 

Do I have to make my insurance installment payment?
Again, at this time, we are not aware of any legal relief from the requirement to pay installments due on commercial insurance. We recommend communicating with your agent and carefully document and confirm any agreement. 

Can I close my deal?
In Virginia, most courts remain open to handle essential services.  Most courts are accepting electronic filings.  However, some courts are not yet set up for electronic filing. You should consult your attorney on the status of filings in such courts.  Additionally, title searches and insurance could be affected.

How can I find out more about SBA loan assistance?
Small businesses in all Virginia counties are now eligible to apply for low-interest Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications here.  Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.  You may wish to contact your existing lender for a loan or to determine whether your lender can facilitate an SBA loan or SBA guaranty.  Carefully consider all aspects of an SBA loan, including up-front costs. 

Deferring Tax Payments and Filings.
The IRS has created a special page on their website focused on Coronavirus Tax Relief, where individuals and businesses can see the latest news and guidance provided. That page can be accessed here.


About the Author

 

Bryant’s real estate and real estate finance experience include representation of buyers, sellers, and lenders in acquisition, development, construction, leasing, and financing of residential, commercial, industrial, waterfront industrial, environmentally impacted real estate, and riparian rights. For more information, please contact Bryant at bmcgann@vanblacklaw.com.

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