Attornment – Definition

Cite this article as:"Attornment – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated February 19, 2019, last accessed October 25, 2020,

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Attornment Definition

Attornment is the agreement that a tenant consents to acknowledge a person who purchases an estate that the tenant has leased as his new landlord. Restated, when the owner of leased property sells the property to a third party, attornment is the transfer of authority as landlord to the purchaser.

A Little More on What is Attornment

According to English real property law, attornment is where a tenant acknowledges a new lord on the alienation of the land. Since the relationship between the landlord and the tenant was considered reciprocal, it was seen as unreasonable to subject the tenant to a new lord without his approval. Due to this reason, alienation could therefore not be carried out without the tenant consenting. However, in 1705, an act that was enacted abolished the necessity for attornment.

In current legal transactions, attornment is used to mean acknowledging the existence of the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. Under the tenant’s lease, a tenant has an obligation of providing an attornment on request. He is also required to give the nature of the existing income streams flowing from the property as part of due diligence to the creditor or potential buyer of the property in the process associated with the transaction.

A tenant is required to declare any existing disputes between him and the landlord at the time when the attornment is being executed. If a tenant refuses a request for attornment, a landlord can use it to establish grounds of evicting the tenant citing grounds such as insecurity of the lease being honored, and the existence of an actual case suitable for resolution in a declaratory judgment action.

In commercial real estate, attornment is used in the context of subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreement (SNDA). This protects the tenant and the lender in case the landlord defaults on its commercial lending obligations. This means that the lease will remain in full force and effect.

References for Attornment

Academic Research for Attornment

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