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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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Commercial Signage dispute. I've just leased a first floor

Customer Question

Commercial Signage dispute.
I've just leased a first floor commercial building(1 story only) for a bathroom renovation showroom.
I had assumed particular building signage space would be mine and now there is a dispute.
I have the photos but no where to upload here.
The guy below me(ground floor) is claiming "dibs" on signage that is actually on my external walls. I don't think he would usually have any right to do this, but he is the owners nephew, and I'm sure the owner is siding with him.
For a compromise, I said if I can get a small sign underneath his under the power line I can deal with that, but he is refusing that. The two top windows are mine, I figure if they want to fight me on this I'll put signage in my windows.
The particular wall is high exposure and I feel the area should be mine.
I want to know where I legally stand with the signage and what legal rights I have.
I am at the point where I need to get signage up but I'm unsure how to go about it.
This is what my contract says:
The tenant will not affix any sign to the Leased Premisis without the Landlords consent and this consent shall not be reasonably withheld. The tenant shall be responsible for ensuring that the errection of any sign has the apporval of any relevant authoritites and the removal of any signs at the expiration or termination of the lease and the making good of any damaged caused by the removal of the signs"
Also what is the "Option" term to renew the lease after our 3 year lease is up?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Unfortunately, the lease clause that you have identified does not provide you with any express term or rights regarding what signage you are permitted to place - other than stating that you are entitled to place "reasonable" signage, and this right shall not be "unreasonably" withheld.

Start by working with the landlord in writing - if you are reaching a deadlock through oral communications, start using letters/emails. you have a good basis to argue a right to put up signs (it is in your lease, and you can argue that refusing your application for a sign/signs is unreasonable).

If direct negotiations fail - try a mediator - a third party neutral can help you break through an impasse. Contact your local bar association and ask for a referral or two. This type of dispute should be handled quickly and easily (at most a half day mediation). But you should get this resolved (in writing) so that you can get professional looking signs placed up on the exterior of the building without having to rely on window signs.

An "option" term is the right of the tenant (or the owner - depending on who holds the option) to renew the lease for an additional term. This option clause should have specific terms and notice requirements. One example would be "Tenant has option to renew for additional 4 years at 3% increase in rent if notice is given to landlord no less than 90 days prior to the end of the current lease term. This option shall renew 3 times for a total of 12 years."

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I still don't understand If I have rights to the signage or not.There are boards all across my top side of the building, waiting for signage.Please see the photo attached;The top left section is mine. They have agreed to most of the yellow area.I thought the top left signage where the power lines come off would be mine too.If this went to court how would a judge decide?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I cannot give you a formal opinion on this site (you need a local attorney for that - we are a "general legal information forum").

The clause you excerpted does entitle you to "reasonable" signage - but it has no objective markers in it (which makes it hard to interpret, but may play in your favor - particularly if you have the landlord giving preferential treatment to a family member tenant).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What could they do if I just put my signage up?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

They could potentially give you a "notice to cure or quit" - requiring you to remove your signs or vacate the property (claiming you are in breach of the lease agreement and that unless you remedy the breach you will face an eviction).

Alternatively, they could sue you for breach of contract.

There is a chance that you could simply put up your sign and they will leave you alone - but if the landlord's family member is pushing to get the same advertising space, I wouldn't count on this option.

You are usually far better off reaching a written agreement beforehand.