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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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I am trying to terminate a lease i signed after purchasing a

Customer Question

I am trying to terminate a lease i signed after purchasing a business. This location was the location used for the business. The former owner and I signed a non compete and she violated it. I am in the process of suing the former owner. How can I get out of the lease if the former owners church owns the property and the former owners husband is the maintenance man, meaning he continues to have access to the space?
Please advise
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

It appears that you have a somewhat complex situation here.

In general it is important to break the matter down so that you can identify the specific relationships that you are working with as that will help you identify your legal rights and remedies.

As a tenant, you can terminate a lease early - but you are responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease term, or until the landlord finds a new tenant to occupy the unit (this is called "mitigation of loss"). The landlord must make reasonable efforts to mitigate their losses.

In your case, the landlord (if I am reading your post correctly) is a church. If you break the lease, the church must make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant, but you are liable for rent until they find a new tenant.

Your case is complicated by the contract (purchase agreement) that you have with the former business owner, which they breached. If their breach caused you to need to relocate, you can pursue them for damages (so while you may be liable to the church, the former owner can be liable to you for reimbursement of those damages).

Furthermore, if the landlord's (church's) maintenance personnel are abusing their access causing damage to your tenancy (violating your "implied right of quiet enjoyment" and breaching the lease agreement), you can sue them for damages under these two theories - it does not give you a right to terminate the lease early, but it can give you a negotiating position to terminate the lease.

(Remember: you can negotiate an early termination with the landlord (church) under whatever terms the two parties deem "mutually agreeable").

This kind of matter usually benefits from mediation, you can find local mediators by contacting your county bar association and asking for referrals. Often a third party neutral can help you reach an agreement without having to go through the time and expense of civil litigation.