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The law places various obligations on commercial landlords in France. Under article 1719 of the Civil Code, the lessor is required to keep the property “in a suitable condition to serve for the purpose for which it has been let.


In a judgement handed down on 15 December 2021 (Court of appeal, 3rd civil chamber, 15 Dec 2021, no. 20-14.423), the Court of Appeal added an interesting clarification regarding the obligations of owners of shopping centre units.

In this case, the owner of a “prestigious” shopping centre leased one of its units. Later, the shopping centre owner decided to allow several “cheap” brands to operate in the shopping centre, which affected the commercial environment and therefore the clientele. The lessee maintained that this had affected the profitability of its business.

When the case was brought before it, the Court of Appeal ruled that while the lessor was required to maintain the property it had let, unless there was a particular clause in the lease contract, it was not required to ensure it was commercially viable.

This decision is in line with a legal trend which maintains that no distinction should be drawn between the obligations on the landlords of commercial property and the landlords of premises for specific usages, as they are all bound by article 1719 of the Civil Code.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that, in the absence of any specific clause in the lease contract, lessors are simply required to ensure the lessee has access to and use of the premises, and that these are maintained, but there is no requirement to provide the lessee with a favourable commercial environment (see also Court of Appeal 3rd civil chamber, 19 December 2012, 11-23.541).

Both lessors and lessees are therefore recommended to pay close attention to the drafting of lease clauses, as they define the obligations placed on the parties.

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