Judge: Building Owner Can Charge Rent Based on Gold Prices

by Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Washington Post

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A downtown office building is worth its weight in gold, according to a federal judge who upheld a nearly century-old lease that tied rent to the current price of the metal.

Last month’s ruling means rent paid by the company leasing the Commerce Building from a group of five property owners could jump from $6,000 annually to more than $300,000.

At issue is a so-called “gold clause” included in the original 1919 lease. The provision, common at the time, linked rent to the price of gold to account for inflation, similar to today’s consumer price index.

“This really is a vindication of property rights,” said Washington, D.C.-based attorney Peter Patterson, who represents the five owners.

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