What happens with disputes about maintenance or repairs?
Lease provisions may include various maintenance or cleaning services. Both parties must understand what they have agreed to within their lease to avoid disputes, breach of lease agreements, or even constructive eviction.
Problems generally arise when there is disagreement over whose responsibility it is to manage and finance regular cleaning and new repairs or maintenance issues or when one party feels that the cleaning, repairs, and maintenance have not been completed up to their standards. Depending on the lease terms, that party may have legal recourse and seek real estate litigation. Moschetti Law Group can help you determine the actual obligations as detailed in your lease around maintenance and repairs and seek compensation where appropriate.
What happens with rent disputes?
Perhaps a landlord’s biggest nightmare is a tenant who fails to pay rent. In the case of delinquent payments, landlords may choose to renegotiate or file an unlawful detainer claim. Whatever the landlord’s choice, it should be one made according to the agreements laid out in the lease and abiding by relevant local laws. A significant variable to the decision of appropriate action is the likelihood of collecting.
A landlord we represented had a tenant who left in the middle of the night. Literally. After a month, we finally tracked him down and made the landlord’s demand. The tenant shrugged his shoulders and said they would just declare bankruptcy. It was a believable claim since the tenant had no assets, but there were two guarantors in the lease, not just him. Thorough research into that guarantor found a pension, a large income, and a substantial home. We filed and served him. The matter was promptly settled after the guarantor spoke with his attorney about his chances and realized that he had no legal standing to dispute the landlord’s claim of a broken rental agreement and delinquent payment.
In the case of unlawful detainers, tenants fail to pay rent but continue to occupy the property or stay on after their lease agreement is expired. In this situation, the landlord can seek an eviction—but they must follow state guidelines for necessary process and procedure, and they may not evict the tenant themselves. The attorneys at Moschetti Law Group can assist landlords in all aspects of filing and pursuing an unlawful detainer claim so that you can continue to bring in the highest possible profits from your rental property and bring on more trustworthy tenants.
Can I just terminate the lease?
Either party in a rental agreement may want to terminate the lease for a variety of reasons. A landlord may want to sell the property before the tenant’s lease is up, in which case the tenant is allowed to pursue damages. A tenant may want to terminate their lease early to move across the state for a new job or any number of other motives, and in this case the landlord may pursue legal action.
We represented a private equity company who had a tenant who desperately wanted to terminate his lease. He wouldn’t try to sublet or do anything more than say he had a deal with the previous owner. After moving out, we filed an unlawful detainer to sever his rights and, after significant litigation, resolved the matter in our client’s favor.
Are use provisions enforceable?
In a commercial space, a lease often describes the use of the space. Further, it may include a provision for “exclusive use,” meaning that the landlord may not lease to other commercial tenants of the same business type. For example, a hairstylist in a strip mall doesn’t want another salon going in next door. If the landlord ignores this agreement, the tenant may pursue legal action.
Use provisions are hotly litigated, usually second only to terminations of a lease. But exclusive use provisions are not exclusive to the retail sector. Moschetti Law Group litigated a matter for a very high net worth owner in the San Francisco Bay Area. He owned an apartment building in the middle of the Marina District (a very exclusive part of town). During a routine inspection, he discovered a gorilla cage in the penthouse flat. Just like the kind in the movies. And that was precisely what it was doing there – the tenants were using the flat as a movie studio for, well, not the kind of movies that you’d want to admit seeing. We filed a claim for the approved use violation and ultimately received both an eviction and a monetary award.