Martin Deli v. Schumacher

From Wiki Law School does not provide legal advice. For educational purposes only.
Martin Deli v. Schumacher
Court New York Court of Appeals
Citation 417 N.E.2d 541
Date decided January 20, 1981


Original lease had a provisions that after five years, the lease could be renewed with a rent amount to be agreed upon. Five years into the lease, the parties could not agree upon a new rent amount.

  • Mr. Schumacher = "Schumacher" = defendant = a landlord = he agreed to lease a retail store
  • Martin, Jr., Delicatessen, Inc. = "Martin" = deli businessman = plaintiff = lessee
  • In 1973, Martin leased a retail space from Schumacher for 5 years.
  • The rent would increase from $500/month in the 1st to $650/month in the 5th year.
  • After leasing the place for 5 years, Schumacher nearly doubled Martin's rent to $900/month.

Procedural History

Martin sued for specific performance asking the court to compel Schumacher to lease at the fair market value for the rent.

Schumacher won a summary judgement in the trial court.

However, Schumacher lost in the Appellate Division of New York.


Is a provision in a lease that the rent for a renewed lease is to be agreed upon at the time of renewal enforceable?

Issue: Are both parties required to come to the bargaining table and agree upon a new rent amount?


No. A provision in a lease that the rent for a renewal period is to be agreed upon at the time of renewal is un-enforceable due to uncertainty.

Final holding was in favor of Schumacher.

Holding: No, there is no such enforceable clause.


Reversed the Appellate Division


Judge Fuchsberg: An agreement that leaves open a material term [the new monthly lease amount after 5 years] for future negotiation is un-enforceable.


Rule: An "agreement to agree" is not enforceable.


Joseph Martin, Jr. Delicatessen v. Schumacher, 52 N.Y.2d 105, 436 N.Y.S.2d 247, 417 N.E.2d 541. (N.Y. App. Ct. 1981).