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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 29302
Experience:  Attorney
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I lease a building in which I have a restaurant, I have

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I lease a building in which I have a restaurant, I have leased the building since December of 2003. My landlord's name is Lupe. Initially, we had a lease under the name of his daughter, Linda, whom I believe is the legally listed owner. Every month when I write out the check for the rent, he has me write it out to his other daughter, Audrey. In all of these years, he has partially repaired the roof. We currently have a horrible problem with leaks, recently, a ceiling panel fell from the roof onto a table with customers. In addition to the leaks, we are constantly having plumbing issues. I have spent alot of money on plumbers who always tell me the lines are corroded and need to be replaced. Aside from the partial roof, he had a grease trap installed, ordered by the City Department. When the central air and heat equipment broke down, I paid 100% for the installation of the new unit. He was aware, and he came and picked up and took the old unit. When I leased the building in 2003, he had tables and chairs and booths inside to which he let me use. I recently, purchased used tables and chairs. I talked to Audrey (the daughter to whom I write out the rent check) and asked if they could take the tables and chairs so that I could bring in the newer ones. She had someone come by and pick them up. I kept and I am still using the booths in the restaurant. I would like to mention that Lupe's business, is a "tortilla factory" where they make corn tortillas and tostadas. Initally, I was buying corn tortillas and chips from another business here in town and when Lupe realized it, he pretty much said that if I didn't buy his tortillas and chips, he would not lease to me. So I have had to buy his corn tortillas and chips for years. As if I don't have enough problems, and I wish I had moved out a long time ago, but I have not been able to find another building I could afford, so I have remained in this situation for a long time, one which has brought me nothing but heartache. Here comes my problem, recently a floor drain became clogged. Note: we had the same problem a few years ago with the same drain and the city health department shut me down until it was fixed. The plumbers came and tried to un-clog it and told us that the line is corroded and needed to be replaced. We could not afford to have them do the work. So my husband broke the cement himself and replaced the line to a certain length and then poured concrete. We believed the problem had been fixed, but that was not the case, soon afterwards it started happening again. Recently, I called the plumbing company again and they came two times. Both times, they told me the line is corroded and needs to be replaced. They went on to tell me that they have it documented that they have previously told me this. So my husband decided to do the same thing again. We verbally notified Joseph, he is Lupe's son-in-law whom agreed he would tell Lupe. We had to do something before the city health department came in and shut us down again. So as my husband broke the cement, he discovered the pipe was corroded alll the way farther down and that it lead to bathroom pipes that were corroded as well. At this point, my husband suggested we call Lupe so he could come down to the restaurant to see the huge problem. I called Lupe and he immediately came to the restaurant. He was not happy at all. He blamed us. He felt we were "negligiant" and that we should have insurance to protect his building. I used to have commercial insurance on the building to protect his building in the case of a fire. I had to let it go because I could not afford it, but even if I still had the insurance, it would not cover corroded plumbing lines. Lupe's theory, is that when he rented the building to me in 2003, it did not have plumbing issues and that if there are some today, it is a result of me using the building for all these years. In addition, he noted the tables and said that they were now his property because they are in his building. He was not happy, and in so many words pretty much accused me of negligiance because of the current state. I am sick beyond words and do not know what is to come. This restaurant is my sole income and it is a sole proprietorship in my name. Can you please tell me what are my rights, I have leased since 2003. The last lease expired 2011. We did not re-new the lease because when I met with Lupe, he wanted an outrageous list of things. For instance, the floor has faded and he was not happy. The windows have been shot by vandals with small pellets and he wanted replaced. He wanted commercial insurance to protect his building in the case of a fire. We did not come into an agreement, because he would'nt even agree to help me pay for ceiling panels which I have to replace because of the leaks. What are my rights? Please tell me what am I facing? Sorry, so long, I am extremely unhappy and distressed. Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Good morning, I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. First, not having insurance isn't a sign of negligence. So that's completely irrelevant to whether you have to pay to fix the pipes. HE should have insurance to protect his building, but you're right, insurance doesn't usually cover this type of thing. You only have to pay to fix the pipes if you behaved in an unreasonable manner and your failure to behave reasonably caused the damage. You've been telling the landlord for years about this issue and he's done nothing to fix it - if anyone is negligent, it's him. You don't have any obligation to maintain the plumbing unless your original lease said so. Otherwise, that's the landlord's responsibility. One option is to file a lawsuit for breach of the lease, asking the judge to order the landlord to pay to fix the plumbing and pay your lost business during the time the restaurant had to be shut down. However, the judge may notify the health department about the problem, and you could wind up getting shut down. A second option is to pay to fix the plumbing, but sue the landlord for reimbursement. The third option is to give the landlord 30 days notice that you'll be vacating the premises, since you're on a month-to-month lease at this point. The chairs and tables belong to you and may be taken when you leave. Those are fixtures you installed for your business that are a necessary part of the business, and you get to keep them. If the landlord wanted to be able to keep the tables and chairs, he needed to pay for them. There's nothing in the law that would let him keep those items. However, that's only going to be an issue if you move out, unless he tries to enter and remove them (which would be trespassing and theft - you could call the police). 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.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
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