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barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 38198
Experience:  Attorney over 16 years, landlord 26 years
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Our landlord rented us a commercial building in December of

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Our landlord rented us a commercial building in December of 2012 which was in need of serious remodeling due to an accident 4 years ago at which time a car ran into the building and damaged 80% of the building. Sometime between 4 years ago and October of 2012, the landlord had the exterior of the building rebuilt and the interior of the building was pretty much a shell with half of the interior framed out only. No drywall on anywhere and there was no flooring. The landord said he would take care of the flooring and the buildout but wanted us to pay for the additional walls and the material to build the walls that needed to be built which we agreed to do since the landlord was not going to charge us a fee.
The landlord promised to have the building completed by March 1st, 2013 to where we could occupy it and start business. In the later part of January of 2012 I spoke to the landlord about permits and he said he had that part under control but that the build out was going to take additional time. I told him it was ok because he is 68 and his wife is 65 and they are very nice people.
They wanted us to come up in April and we did and we rented an apartment which we had to pay in excess of $7,000.00 all at once in order to obtain the apartment.
It is now July 30th, 2013 and we have not received keys. We did get one (1) key a month ago but he changed the locks at one point so if we wanted to go into the building to take a look around, the landlord would have to let us in and he would always make sure we left when he did at 5:00 P.M.
Now the landlord has given us several bills and asking us to pay them. One of the bills is a bill the landlord paid for tenant improvements which he originally said he had taken care of in the amount of $528.20 and he wants us to reimburse him for the bill he paid. He also gave us a bill in the amount of $16,000.00 for rent that he wants paid starting back on March 1st, 2013. What do you think about this?
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
So do you have exclusive use and possession of the building as of March 1, 2013? (this is kind of rhetorical..)
What exactly are the "tenant improvements" he wants to charge you the $500+ for?
Do I understand correctly that today, as we are typing, the remodel is not done to a point where you can actually use the building for its intended use?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Note: Areas italicized and in bold are areas written directly from the lease agreement.


Lease signed on December 8th, 2012 but it is dated at the top on the 1st page December 31st, 2012. He lists the term as: The lease term will begin January 1, 2013 and will terminate on December 31st, 2015.

Possession: Tenant shall be entitled to possession on the first day of March 2012, and shall yield possession to Landlord on the last day of the term of this lease, unless otherwise agreed by both parties in writing. At the expiration of the term, tenant shall have the option of renewing the lease for an additional 3 years.

(I just also noticed that the date of 2012 should have been 2013, does that have any bearing on enforceability?)


He changed us in excess of $30,000.00 in tenant improvements and now wants us to pay for the additional permit he was told to pay by the City because he got caught trying to get away with tenant improvements as a result of the accident that took place 4 years ago and he applied for the permit so he could put the building back to where it was.


The remodel was just completed by his contractor on July 25th, 2013. But remember that he failed to advise us about the lack of a current "Certificate of Occupancy" on the building since it was empty for so long.


We live in Arizona, not Washington. We had to come up here and get an apartment and we have spent $1,000's waiting for him to get done and now he wants us to pay rent for months he was working on the building.


Note: He is a General Contractor also. We trusted him and took his word for face value. The landlord said that he received the final inspection tag of completion on July 24th, 2013 at which time they also issued the Certificate of Occupancy".


I think he is going to tell us that unless we agree to pay him everything he wants, that he is not going to give us keys and who knows what else?


I really need to hear what you have to say about this. You know what you are talking about. I have used you several times. Good or bad I just want to hear what your feeling is on this matter. Thanks


Let me know if you need anything else.


Ok, since he had to deliver possession on March 1, 2013, and has failed to do so, he is in breach of contract. When one party breaches, then that will typically excuse the other party from any further performance under the contract.
If he was supposed to deliver possession and has failed to do so, then you are not getting what you bargained for and I don't see any judge ordering you to pay rent from March 1 if the landlord hasn't delivered possession of a usable building. It would be ridiculous for a landlord to expect a tenant to pay rent on a building when the landlord hasn't delivered the property in usable condition as agreed under the contract. The landlord should eat the rent for the extra months after March 1 until he gets it ready to deliver.
I don't think that the typo is material as it is understood what the parties intended when they entered into the contract.
As for the improvements, if that is part of the contract, then he could expect payment for that as long as it was required for you to be moving towards actual occupancy.
So I think he is out of luck on the rent from March 1 until he delivers possession but could charge you for the tenant improvements if you agreed to be responsible for them.
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