During the tenancy, disputes may arise between the landlord and tenant on matters other than non-payment. The tenant may be using the premises for a purpose other than the lease. For example, a residential tenant may be running a business out of the home with lots of visitors who park their cars in front of the neighbors’ driveway. A commercial tenant may have the authorization to use the premises for a consulting business, then later opens a massage parlor in the same location.
When a landlord advises the tenant of a breach of their lease, many tenants who have several months left on their lease simply ignore the demand and just pay their rent. It is only when the tenant gets a letter from the landlord’s attorney that their tune changes. Even if the tenant is month-to-month, the landlord would usually prefer to correct the tenant’s behavior and keep the tenant (a customer) than have to pay the expense of searching for a new one.
In commercial matters, we work with both landlords and small business tenants to ensure that our clients’ position is clear to the other party, and if necessary, represent our client in court to vigorously defend their position. When a commercial tenant opens up a business that's use is not authorized under the lease, the landlord can face huge liability for knowingly allowing the activity if the facilities are not code-compliant (or the property is not properly zoned). On the flip side, many landlords “pass through” expenses to the tenants without providing a reasonably detailed accounting. Or, the landlord inserts a “management fee” so as to drive up the expenses, but is really only paying himself (or herself).
Commercial landlords and tenants alike need to know their legal rights and responsibilities to make intelligent business decisions. Please feel free to contact our office for a consultation on these or other matters.