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If a commercial lease expires, can the landlord change the

Customer Question
locks in SC. She...
If a commercial lease expires, can the landlord change the locks in SC. She is keeping the security deposit for the heldover month.
Submitted: 7 years ago.Category: Business Law
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5/7/2010
Business Lawyer: J.Hazelbaker, Attorney replied 7 years ago
J.Hazelbaker
J.Hazelbaker, Attorney
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Under South Carolina law, If the commercial lease expired and the tenant failed to vacate by the deadline specificied under the lease agreement, then the landlord can either change the locks terminate the tenancy or charge the tenant for rent for the holdover period.

However, the landlord can't do both. In order to charge you rent, the landlord must provide access to the property. If the landlord has changed the locks, then that access has been denied.

If the landlord won't allow the tenant to retrieve property remaining on the premises, then the tenant will have to sue the landlord for "conversion" (which is the civil equivalent of criminal theft).

Please let me know, if you have follow-up questions.
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

Are there any holdover procedures? We have not paid the rent and there is about $60,000 worth of inventory inside and the locks are changed. Can she return the deposit and keep the inventory inside. At this point we just want access to the property to remove our stuff.

 

Is there any recourse for entering the property?

Business Lawyer: J.Hazelbaker, Attorney replied 7 years ago
The holdover procedure is that she can charge you rent and apply the security deposit to that rent. If she has done that, then she cannot take away access. You've paid the right to access the property.

She has no claim to the property. She has a lien on the property as security for damage or unpaid rent. If there is no damage or unpaid rent, then she must release the property. Here failure to do so constitutes conversion.

If there is damage or unpaid rent, the she can sue to recover it or you can sue to recover the property, at which time you would have to pay the amounts owed to get it released.
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