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Commercial Lease - Alabama Laws

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  • Commercial Lease - Alabama Laws

    Please someone help me determine what my options are for this situation. What law requires landlord has a duty to provide "useable" space, for office lease? Or what about "detrimental reliance"? I'm open to suggestions here. Points about the case:
    • tenant leased 1 office space for 9 months, then increased size & renewed lease at higher rate for total of 3 offices, with the understanding that the landlord would fix air-conditioning problem in large front office
    • landlord made continued, REPEATED promises, scheduling, and discussing options to fix the problem (not enough air ducts/system too weak to cool space, etc)
    • before signed new lease - tenant said to landlord, in front of witnesses, "I'm afraid if I move in there, and sign the lease, that you won't have a reason to fix the air problem."
    • landlord assured tenant, over-and-over, and on a monthly (if not weekly) basis that it was going to be repaired, he was working on it etc.
    • tenant could not use office space, lost billable hours, & had hard-drive damage due to EXTREME heat: 85-93 degrees in office, in the middle of the day/during the week, on a regular basis.
    • messages were left with front-office staff, for the owner, in writing, on the answering machine, in person etc. about how unbearable and unusable the space was
    • after 5-6 months into the 1 year lease renewal, landlord mentioned lease was coming up for renewal and since his "perception" was that tenants business was doing well, and would probably need to go up on the rent
    • tenant said "Not for another 6+ months, or so, and you haven't even fixed the air yet." He again assured the air would be fixed, scheduled a HVAC guy to come out, got the same info he already knew (unit/ducts inadequate to cool space). No repair/fix to problem.
    • this drags out over a total of 11 months, and during the last month tenant came into office to meet a client and it was 93 DEGREES! Tenant called the staff to witness, called the landlord and requested he come to office to witness (he refused), and notified landlord not paying the last month’s rent, got about 6 people to help vacate the office that night.
    • landlord is suing for last month’s rent, plus attorney fees
    • tenant has never not paid any bill, or obligation. However, tenant is appalled, because tenant relied on landlord's verbal assurance that he would do the right thing and fix the air problem.
    • tenant is being targeted by this landlord, because he knows I am a rule-following, extremely busy, successful business owner. And that I rely on my integrity in all of my affairs. Further, I am aware that he does not legally pursue previous non-paying tenants.
    • Side note: there are probably building health issues RE: the heat, and previous leaky roof, regarding mold.
    I understand that tenants cannot withhold rent, but I don't want to pay it, and not be heard. Landlord is a scammy businessman, and shouldn't be able to continue to conduct business, and take advantage of good people. This is not about the actual $$$, it is the principle. I received a summons to small claims court regarding this matter.

    Thanks in advance for any advice, or knowledge you could share about Alabama Commercial Law would be helpful....

  • #2
    re: Commercial Lease - Alabama Laws

    Originally posted by CommericalLaw1 View Post
    Please someone help me determine what my options are for this situation. What law requires landlord has a duty to provide "useable" space, for office lease? Or what about "detrimental reliance"? I'm open to suggestions here. Points about the case:
    • tenant leased 1 office space for 9 months, then increased size & renewed lease at higher rate for total of 3 offices, with the understanding that the landlord would fix air-conditioning problem in large front office
    • landlord made continued, REPEATED promises, scheduling, and discussing options to fix the problem (not enough air ducts/system too weak to cool space, etc)
    • before signed new lease - tenant said to landlord, in front of witnesses, "I'm afraid if I move in there, and sign the lease, that you won't have a reason to fix the air problem."
    • landlord assured tenant, over-and-over, and on a monthly (if not weekly) basis that it was going to be repaired, he was working on it etc.
    • tenant could not use office space, lost billable hours, & had hard-drive damage due to EXTREME heat: 85-93 degrees in office, in the middle of the day/during the week, on a regular basis.
    • messages were left with front-office staff, for the owner, in writing, on the answering machine, in person etc. about how unbearable and unusable the space was
    • after 5-6 months into the 1 year lease renewal, landlord mentioned lease was coming up for renewal and since his "perception" was that tenants business was doing well, and would probably need to go up on the rent
    • tenant said "Not for another 6+ months, or so, and you haven't even fixed the air yet." He again assured the air would be fixed, scheduled a HVAC guy to come out, got the same info he already knew (unit/ducts inadequate to cool space). No repair/fix to problem.
    • this drags out over a total of 11 months, and during the last month tenant came into office to meet a client and it was 93 DEGREES! Tenant called the staff to witness, called the landlord and requested he come to office to witness (he refused), and notified landlord not paying the last month’s rent, got about 6 people to help vacate the office that night.
    • landlord is suing for last month’s rent, plus attorney fees
    • tenant has never not paid any bill, or obligation. However, tenant is appalled, because tenant relied on landlord's verbal assurance that he would do the right thing and fix the air problem.
    • tenant is being targeted by this landlord, because he knows I am a rule-following, extremely busy, successful business owner. And that I rely on my integrity in all of my affairs. Further, I am aware that he does not legally pursue previous non-paying tenants.
    • Side note: there are probably building health issues RE: the heat, and previous leaky roof, regarding mold.
    I understand that tenants cannot withhold rent, but I don't want to pay it, and not be heard. Landlord is a scammy businessman, and shouldn't be able to continue to conduct business, and take advantage of good people. This is not about the actual $$$, it is the principle. I received a summons to small claims court regarding this matter.

    Thanks in advance for any advice, or knowledge you could share about Alabama Commercial Law would be helpful....
    Was anything ever put in writing regarding the promise to repair the A/C unit? If not, then you may well be out of luck. In commercial LL/T law, the contract is what will govern in a court of law. If the contract says something, it's binding. If it's verbal, then it's not only difficult, but often impossible to enforce.

    Walking out is not the solution. Just because a LL isn't known for pursuing non-paying tenants in the past doesn't mean they won't now. In addition, a commercial lease often gives LL far more latitude in enforcing rent collection by which a LL CAN lockout a tenant and seize business property in many cases to satisfy an unpaid rent balance.

    Since the LL appears now to be suing, and there isn't a valid LEGAL reason for not paying, the LL will almost certainly get a win in court. Can this business survive a judgment against them or its owner? How about a reputation for not paying its bills in this tentative economy? Better to just pay what's owed, and be done with that LL, once and for all.
    "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
    "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

    Comment


    • #3
      re: Commercial Lease - Alabama Laws

      I wish to inform you that terms of lease agreement will govern your rights. In this regard tenant can claim compensation for loss suffered because of breach of contract by landlord. As premises were used for last month thus rent for last month is due from tenant. In this if landlord takes any action then tenant can file counter claim against landlord.

      AFF

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