Growing weakness in commercial real estate is poised to transform banking companies into accidental landlords — with a new set of headaches.

Lenders have already endured trials from seizures of vast numbers of single-family homes. Properties that produce income and accommodate tenants — office buildings, apartment complexes, shopping malls and the like — carry a distinct set of problems, from "slip-and-fall" lawsuits to new varieties of public relations dust-ups.

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