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Landlord-Tenant Disputes

Disputes between landlords and tenants can take many forms -- from upkeep, maintenance and repair issues to non-payment of rent and potential eviction. In addition to looking to the terms of any rental agreement in place, getting informed up front of your rights as either a tenant or a landlord will help save much money and avoid frustration.

Commercial leases are a foundational aspect of any business operation. The success of your business depends, in large part, on the terms of your lease. This is especially so in the event you decide to sell your business. Many companies profit by renting their business space rather than purchasing their own space. Commercial leases are important, but they can also be a source of legal dispute or disagreement between the parties.

Commercial tenancies are typically not governed under California's landlord and tenant law, which is for residential leases only. Instead, commercial leases fall under California's contract law. This allows a commercial landlord to have many more rights than a residential landlord when it comes to negotiating a lease and legal recourse. Commercial leases cover rent pricing, the use of the building and property, landlord and tenant responsibilities for the property, legal recourse, late charges, lease termination, lease abatement, and many other provisions. Landlords and tenants negotiate a lease agreeable to both parties and the lease takes precedence in court.

Evictions for a commercial lease differ from residential eviction procedures. For example, a landlord of commercial property may accept partial rent payments and still continue with an eviction. Notice periods for eviction are typically stipulated in the lease whereas notice periods in residential tenancies are statutory.

In California, most commercial landlords use one of the standard "AIR" leases, tailored to the landlord's and tenant's specifications. In theory, all terms and provisions of the lease are negotiable: rent, the space, physical changes, time, whether to arbitrate and mediate disputes, and even how to handle building defects. There are frequently trade-offs of one term for another, but often times, the changes a tenant wants are acceptable without objection. Although the parties to a lease may be represented by real estate agents and/or attorneys, it is vital that you take the time to read the lease. Ms. Stein is frequently surprised by how many of her clients have not read their leases until there is a breach, at which time she becomes involved. In negotiating the terms of your lease, try to think of what could go wrong, and how it should be handled.

Some common examples of commercial lease disputes involve issues such as early termination, subleasing and assignments, the parties' respective duties with regard to tenant improvements, repairs, modifications to the premises, and common area maintenance ("CAM's") responsibilities.

Resolving a commercial lease dispute involves an interaction between business, contract, and real estate laws. In addition to her legal knowledge in this field, Ms. Stein utilizes her mediation skills in efforts to avoid the necessity of litigation, and in many instances, disputes are resolved outside of the courtroom.

Ms. Stein counsels both landlords and tenants in lease negotiations, as well.

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Law Offices of
Susan D. Stein


Phone: (714) 795-2685
Toll-free: (877) 350-5958
Fax: (714) 543-4552
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1602 East Fourth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701-5118
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