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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 27621
Experience:  Attorney
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Landlord selling the building and wants us to move within

Customer Question

landlord selling the building and wants us to move within the month. knew he was selling and we were told originally date set for June, but now much sooner. what are my rights to minimize the lost of business and cost of relocation and he is even thinking to charge rent while my furniture and equipment is in the space while I look for new space. if I don't agree to the new date what are my rights?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

Are you in an area with rent stabilization or rent controls? Do you have a lease with a set term?

Also, are you in New York City?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
no. this is a commercial space and we pay market rate. there is almost another 10 years remaining on the lease. we agree to move out in june, but the landlord is looking to move up the date to next month and wanting to charge to keep our furniture in the space while we build or look for another space.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
space is in manhattan.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

Thank you.

If you have 10 years left on the lease, the landlord can't make you move at all. You have a right to be there for another 10 years. His sale of the property has no effect on that right at all - the lease transfers to the new owner, at your current rent, with all clauses intact. The landlord CAN charge you rent for each and every day you're in the space, but you don't have to move unless you want to.

You have a right to CHOOSE to move, to sign another contract that says you'll terminate the lease early. But (a) you can make the landlord pay you for giving up your rights to continue leasing that space and (b) he doesn't get to unilaterally decide when you leave. The termination date would be negotiated and agreed, like everything else. You have a contract, and he can't just decide to terminate it.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
we had an oral agreement that we would vacate the space in june given it would give us time to find and build, but now that he has shorten that time and we are looking at cost that we really can't cover, legally what can we negotiate for if we agree to work with this time frame?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

He cannot shorten the time frame without your consent. It's illegal. You do not have to move. If people were allowed to up and change agreements whenever they wanted, there would be no point in entering a contract.

And if he can't prove that you agreed to move in June - then you get to stay 10 years. You can legally negotiate whatever you want. You can require that he pay you any amount you think is fair. He's asking you to do him a favor by moving out. Don't let him take advantage of you. And make sure that anything you DO agree is in writing so he doesn't try to get out of it later.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

But without an agreement, he has no basis for making you move. If he changes the locks, you can sue. If he sues for eviction, you'll win. He has no legal right to force you out.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
what are some of the things that I can use to negotiate if I am willing to "do him a favor"? the timing is horrible given it will take approx 4-6 months for permits and what would be reasonable to ask cover such losses. given his past behavior we don't really want to deal with him further, but we don't want to do this all at a hugh loss either.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

The main thing you can use to negotiate is that a buyer who thinks he's purchasing an empty commercial business is going to be angry to find tenants there and could sue him for breach of contract. Everything he's doing now needed to be worked out and put in writing BEFORE he signed a contract to sell the building.

It is reasonable for you to ask for every penny you'll lose as a result of moving. After all, if you don't move, you lose nothing, so why should you have to move if it's going to cost you money? There has to be some benefit to you in agreeing to move early, or the promise is illusory and unenforceable. A promise to give someone a gift isn't binding, and that's what you have if you agreed to move after he sold the place and he didn't pay you for that promise.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.

I have to step away for an appointment. This happens sometimes because we have no way of anticipating when or if the customer will have additional questions about our answers. If you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer them when I return. I apologize in advance for the delay.