FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-12-19
Commercial landlords and tenants are generally sophisticated business professionals, and want to uphold their reputations and maintain good working relationships with their business contacts. However, mistakes can happen and misunderstandings can develop. When a commercial tenant and a landlord have a problem, trying to settle things informally is not always enough to resolve the situation. When necessary, the aggrieved party may need to retain a commercial litigation attorney and exercise the rights granted by the commercial lease and applicable state law.
Documentation is key to preserve evidence, strengthen your case
Preparation is often the best strategy for handling landlord-tenant disputes. By identifying common problems early on, you can address them preemptively in lease negotiations. Some common sticking points include requirements that a tenant pay for a portion of the taxes on the building, utility costs, a portion of improvements on the building and a portion of property insurance. In addition, the terms of the maintenance program provided by the landlord should be clearly defined. An experienced commercial transactions attorney can advise you on additional issues that may arise considering your particular form of business, and will represent your interests in negotiations.
Of course, many times, it is not possible to head off problems before they happen. Hindsight is always 20/20, but you may have to pursue other options if you find yourself embroiled in a dispute.
So what are you to do if you find yourself in the midst of a landlord-tenant dispute? For one thing, documentation is key. Pull out all the lease documents and read them carefully. For example, if you are a tenant and numerous maintenance requests have gone unanswered, be sure to save all those requests in writing. Saving email maintenance requests is a great way to leverage modern technology, because they are date and time stamped, but old-fashioned faxes or written letters will suffice as well. For maintenance issues, pictures or videos of the damage before it is repaired are also a good idea to preserve evidence.
Showing a willingness to try to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute before it ends up in court is another way to make your case stronger if you wind up in litigation. If you make good faith attempts to resolve matters, and they go ignored or are rejected, you tend to look better in the eyes of the court; remember to document any attempts at settling issues informally.
Get in touch with a commercial litigation attorney for advice
If trouble has been brewing in your landlord-tenant relationship, the most important thing you can do is to contact legal counsel. A commercial litigation attorney can analyze the unique circumstances surrounding your individual situation. Your attorney will be able to provide a risk/benefit analysis, give you a full picture of your rights and provide an estimate of potential litigation costs.
It can be a challenge when a landlord-tenant relationship breaks down. However, with the right help, you can ensure that you make the best out of a bad situation. Talk to a commercial litigation attorney today to explore your legal options.