Klein & Wilson

Your legal rights when a landlord doesn't maintain a property

Renting property as a commercial tenant helps you save money compared to purchasing property. Especially in the first few years of your business, obtaining a lease is often a wise decision. You can develop your brand and a loyal customer base before you invest in permanent real estate. After all, it can be quite difficult to predict how your business will grow or change when you first open up for business.

Renting provides you with savings that you can invest back in your business, as well as flexibility. Unfortunately, renting can also create situations that could damage your business. For example, improper or inadequate maintenance on the part of your landlord could affect your ability to use the space and the comfort of your clients or customers when visiting you.

Businesses require certain amenities to function

Whether you have a retail shop or an office that clients occasionally visit, you will need adequate parking, waiting space and even bathrooms accessible to visitors. It is also important that both the exterior and the inside of the building receive adequate maintenance to ensure safety all around.

When landlords refuse to maintain their properties, tenants are often left in difficult positions. Maybe your landlord keeps promising to attend to an issue, such as a large pothole in the parking lot, only to ignore it. Perhaps your landlord claims that you are responsible for such repairs, although the terms of your lease make it clear that is not case.

In a situation where you need the landlord to make repairs and they will not do so, you may have to take additional steps to protect your business. In some cases, you could miss out on both foot traffic and client visits until the repairs get made.

Educate yourself about your legal rights as a tenant

As someone who rents property from someone else, you have certain rights under the law. Your landlord should uphold their end of the contract. You pay rent and adhere to certain rules and restrictions regarding your use of the property. Your landlord needs to maintain certain parts of the property, including all common areas shared by you and other tenants.

You must review your lease to determine what repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the landlord. Remember that commercial leases are often different from residential ones. Commercial tenants often assume some maintenance responsibility for the property. However, certain repairs, especially in common areas, will likely remain the responsibility of the landlord.

If a verbal request for repairs doesn't result in action on the part of your landlord, you may need to send a letter advising your landlord of the need for repairs as soon as possible. Hopefully, a firm but reasonable letter will motivate your landlord to take action. In the event that it does not, you may have to take more assertive action.

Real estate law, especially commercial leases, can quickly become confusing and complex. It may be in your best interest to speak with a commercial real estate attorney, especially if you need to compose a letter to your landlord or attempt other remedies for lack of adequate maintenance.

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