“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…But Should Someone Else Be Clearing it?”

Winners, shopping in Calgary

Winter has made its early debut. The snow has begun falling and the salt trucks are already covering the roads (and our cars), and it’s not even December! Despite the bleak forecasts, people are out and about in large numbers, especially in light of the approaching holidays. With the snow comes the ice, and shopkeepers and property owners alike are getting their own shovels and salt stashes ready to clear their walkways and sidewalks for their customers and tenants. Along with the bad weather also come the questions regarding a property owner’s or lessee’s obligations to a tenant or customer to create a safe, and ice or snow free, place to come and go. It’s best to have a plan of action with regard to your property before the bad weather hits and understand your duties to those visiting your property during the winter season. If you’re a landlord, business owner or retail lessee, consider the following:

Landlord/Tenant Obligations

Generally, a landlord has a duty to exercise reasonable care to keep common areas held in the landlord’s control in a safe condition for their tenants, as well as recognize changing conditions and remedy them as they arise. This is especially an issue when the weather turns for the worse. Landlords need to be aware of potential issues as the snow and ice starts to accumulate, keeping on hand the proper materials to keep the walkways clear and safe and be cognizant of problems as they arise so they are fixed in a reasonable manner and within reasonable time.

Business Owners/Lessees

For tenants leasing a retail space, it is important to first look to your retail lease to determine exactly who is obligated, if anyone, to clear and salt the walkways and storefront in bad weather such as snow and ice. If your business or property sits on a municipality owned walkway or roadway, look to your city ordinances to determine whose obligation this may be in inclement weather. Determining whose responsibility it is to take action when winter hits is the first step in preventing injuries on your premises as well as liability for yourself or your business. Whether you’re a retail landlord or tenant, consider whether you need to incorporate language into your lease that speaks to duties with regard to snow and ice if these obligations are not clear.

If your business, like many others, clears and salts its sidewalks and parking lots to encourage people to come in despite the wintery conditions, it is important to have a consistent policy in keeping your premises clear and as safe as possible. With a change in Kentucky law over the last 5 years, even if it is obvious to your customers that weather is poor and the sidewalks slick, the entity occupying the property could still face liability if it doesn’t ensure the care towards its premises is reasonable under the circumstances.

By addressing these potential issues early, landlords, business owners and lessee’s can reduce the possibility of incidents on their premises and injuries to their customers or tenants during the winter season. If you are a landlord, retail owner or tenant and have questions about your obligations, contact the attorneys at McBrayer today.


Brittany MacGregor is an associate attorney practicing in the Lexington office of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. She is a graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. Ms. MacGregor’s practice focuses on real estate law, including title examination, title insurance, clearing title issues, deeds, settlement statements, preparation of loan documentation, contract negotiation and preparation, and lease negotiation and preparation. She may be reached at bmacgregor@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780.

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law activities and does not constitute legal advice.


‘Tis The Season To Think About Your Retail Lease

With November nearly upon us, the holiday shopping season is right around the corner. For retailers, the peak season can bring a whole host of issues to be considered in connection with a commercial lease. The best time to think about these issues is now – before the droves of eager customers start lining up at the doors. So, if you are a retailer and lease a space for your business, take a few minutes and consider the following:

  1. Does your lease require that you only operate during certain hours, preventing you from participating in “Black Friday” or staying open late during especially busy days?
  2. Is there available parking for seasonal employees?
  3. Are there any limitations in the lease about the type of signage or decorations? Must signs or decorations be approved by a landlord?
  4. Are there any provisions prohibiting special activities in or around the store (i.e., having carolers, a gift wrapping station, or passing out hot chocolate to bystanders)?
  5. If you are in a multi-unit building, how will advertising and general maintenance costs be divided? In other words, who is really paying for Santa and his elves to be stationed in the center?

Shopping Christmas Santa

By addressing these issues early, landlords and tenants can reduce the possibility of misunderstandings and disputes during the shopping season. A little forethought and communication can go a long way in making everything merry and bright. If you are a landlord or tenant and have questions about your commercial lease, contact the attorneys at McBrayer today.


Christopher A. Richardson is an associate at McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC in the Louisville, KY office. Mr. Richardson concentrates primarily in real estate, where he is experienced in residential and commercial closing transactions, landlord/tenant relations, and mortgage lien enforcement/foreclosure. Mr. Richardson has closed innumerable secondary market and portfolio residential real estate transactions and his commercial practice ranges from short-term collateralized financing and construction lending to development revolving lines of credit. He can be reached at 502-327-5400 or crichardson@mmlk.com.

This article is intended as a summary of  federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.

Fraud Risks High for Multi-Unit Property Mortgages

A recent report, published by Interthinx, an anti-fraud vendor for the financial services industry, revealed that loans associated with multi-unit properties have a much higher fraud risk than loans associated with other property types. Mortgage fraud occurs when an individual makes a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission which is relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan.

According to Interthinx, the fraud risk for multi-unit properties is more than double the risk associated with single-family residences, condos, or planned unit developments. The report should prompt lenders to screen these kinds of mortgage loan applications with increased diligence.

Multi-unit property loans tend to carry with them a higher propensity for occupancy and employment/income fraud. To keep financial risks low, lenders and servicers must constantly be on the lookout for fraudulent applications. There are many technological tools on the market to detect fraud. The best line of defense, however, is often a strict lending policy and thorough screening of loan documentation.

The real estate team at McBrayer represents numerous lending institutions, in addition to counseling clients on the ownership and management of multi-unit properties. We are dedicated to eliminating fraud in the mortgage industry and providing positive closing experiences for all involved parties.

J. Markham

Joshua J. Markham is a member at McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC in the Lexington, KY office. Mr. Markham practices in virtually every aspect of real estate law, including title examination, title insurance, clearing title issues, deeds, settlement statements, preparation of loan documentation, contract negotiation and preparation, lease negotiation and preparation, and any and all other needs related to residential and commercial real estate matters.He can be reached at jmarkham@mmlk.com or (859) 231-8780, ext. 149.

This article is intended as a summary of  federal and state law and does not constitute legal advice.