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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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My brother and I are new landlords on a building previously

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My brother and I are new landlords on a building previously owned by our father, a physician (who is retired). We are renting the building to another doctor. Without contacting us, this physician has hired a company to do repairs on the roof (which is new) and are withholding rent for the amount of the repairs (2500 dollars). We never received a request for repairs (written or otherwise). What can we do? We need the tenant, we're in a financially difficult situation, and can't really afford to take them to court, etc. What can be done to recoup the money? Honestly, if they were to break the lease and just leave, we'd be screwed, but we can't allow them to walk all over us.
You are in a difficult situation.

What does the lease say about tenant repairs to the building?

Was the roof leaking in a way that would cause the building to incur other damages if it were not fixed, or that made the building unusable?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Our lease only states that the landlord is responsible for repairs after receiving a request IN WRITING from the tenant (which we did not). As far as what was wrong with the roof, I am not sure (it's late, I could contact my father in the morning). I would assume it's routine leaking, etc., since it is a brand new roof (it's Florida, the summertime). Legally, I would think the tenant should have to contact my brother or me via writing, which they have not. We'd be more than happy to repair it with a company of our choosing, you know? And unfortunately, because of our financial situation, we have to find a way to resolve this amicably because to be honest we rely on the rent from this tenant. Thank you so much for your help!
I'm glad I can help. However, the fact that you can't afford to go to court or lose the tenant really limits your options.

Technically, the tenant has breached the lease by withholding rent when it shouldn't have. Since this is a commercial lease, you can terminate the lease and evict him and then accelerate the amount of rent due. However, this is going to cost money in attorneys fees and filing fees. But this, as we say, is a bullet in your holster that you can use in negotiating.

Your only real option is to write the tenant a certified letter and demand that the full rent be paid. You need to explain that they did not follow the correct procedures under the lease to offset the rent and that they are in breach of the lease. You need to also say that failure to pay the amount due under the lease and holding back money under these circumstances is a material breach which allows you to evict them and accelerate rent should they not comply. Say that you are appreciative of their business but that a deal is a deal and they are breaching the contract.
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