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My question is can he just take over my businesses? Can he just take the assets of both of my businesses since he never filed for a lien against the past due amount owed to him against us or the previous owners who are still on the lease?
You have a number of problems. You're asking if he "can" do something that he has obviously already done. The real question is, what you can do about it?
A lease than will be in effect for more than a year, and a lease on real property, must be in writing to be effective and enforceable under a concept of law called the "statute of frauds" (it really has nothing to do with fraud).
This lack of a written contract cuts both ways since he can't claim against you under the terms of a lease this is void.
Without a written lease you are operating under a month to month lease.
Most of the protections that are covered by the law and which you've heard about only cover residential or consumer leases, not commercial leases.
With all that being said you can act to get your property back. You can get a local lawyer who will file a case with the local court and they will order the landlord to turn your property over to you. The question then will be whether he can counter-sue for the lease amounts, I don't think he can, but the judge will definitely order him to turn your property over to you.
Please ask any follow up questions in this thread.