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Can a landlord increase CAM fees in the middle of a lease?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | Property Law

When you sign a commercial lease as a tenant, your goal is to lock in a property where you can do business. Whether you need manufacturing space or a retail shop, the right location and amenities can mean the difference between success and failure. As a landlord, signing a lease guarantees that you will have rental income from that property, as tenants usually have an obligation to continue paying rent for multiple years under commercial leases.

In addition to the length of the lease and the amount of rent, the lease you signed will likely specify additional costs. Common area maintenance (CAM) fees are frequently part of commercial leases. A tenant may pay a flat rate or a percentage of the total costs.

Can a landlord just increase the CAM fees that a tenant needs to pay in the middle of their lease?

The contract and the reason for the increase will both matter

Some landlords specifically reserve the right to increase certain costs if they can demonstrate a need to do so during the lease. If your lease includes such provisions, it will be much easier for the landlord to increase CAM fees in that situation.

If the lease does not specifically permit fee increases, a landlord can sometimes still make a claim for their necessity. Perhaps the landlord didn’t understand the demands that a particular tenant would place on their property, such as when they need to use more parking than other tenants in comparably-sized units. Maybe there are unexpected but unavoidable costs that affect the property and all the tenants within it.

Depending on the reason for the increase, the significance of the increase and the language of the lease, changes to CAM fees may be something a landlord can’t enforce during an existing commercial lease.