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I just moved in a commercial space for my audio recording business.

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Either my landlord or the...
I just moved in a commercial space for my audio recording business. Either my landlord or the maintenance man went into my space yesterday without my consent. The only reason I found out was because they left door open, I always double check the lock, I just installed a draft blocker on the front door and it causes the door to drag a little on the floor and it doesn't close if you just rely on the automatic door closer. I'm still going through everything, nothing missing yet. I know this isn't the greatest proof that someone has entered my space but now I don't feel too safe about my equipment being there. I kind of want to get out of the lease and move now. What can I do other than setup a camera and wait to see if someone goes in there again? Can I change the lock without letting the landlord know??
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 21 minutes by:
6/11/2010
Lawyer: Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney replied 8 years ago
Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 13,637
Experience: 19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.
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Hi tax,

 

I can understand your discomfort. Here is what I would likely do: First, check your lease and determine if it talks about changing the locks. Most landlords would want the Tenant to change the locks, so there can be no (or less) liability on the Landlord, or accusations flying that he entered and stole. If it doesn't give you that right, I would tell the boss that I discovered that my store (or whatever you call it) was entered while you were not there. (Don't even suggest it was him, even though it may have been.)

 

Indicate that your video surveillance had not yet been activated, so you don't feel you can successfully press charges due to lack of evidence, but that you do not feel comfortable with the current lock, as clearly someone was able to breach it easily and you need to change the lock immediately and you are willing to handle that yourself. Do you know of a good locksmith? (Asking him that last question makes you seem on his side, non-accusatory - of course you need not use the locksmith he suggests, but you need not tell him that. However, if he asks for copy of the key, you will have to give him one, as a landlord generally has the right to enter the premises on proper notice and or in an emergency.

 

Aside from the lock issue, I WOULD get a security system, without a doubt. He may allow you to install one professionally (say, ADT), but ADT will require his permission. But if not, video surveillance is cheap these days, relatively, and given that you will likely have the private financial information of some of your customers in there, you really need to have security. Consider looking into a motion sensored video system that records video (and turns on light!) when there is movement (say, the front door opens). It won't use up 24/7 taping, only when there is that unwanted movement of someone entering. You'd only use it when you leave and are closed. Telling the landlord that you haven't yet activated your video surveillance, may also thwart him by innocently passing the info on to him that you of course have same, and of course will be using it.

 

 

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
I know a landlord has certain rights and if it was the landlord that really puts me in a bind. What if I change they lock and they want a copy and they just keep doing it. If I can setup a camera and catch them doing it again what sort of recourse do I have if I have irrefutable evidence?
Lawyer: Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney replied 8 years ago

I agree, we have rights, but we don't always have the POWER to stop the landlord from breaking them. We can often only retroactively seek redress. But we can get proof that the landlord is breaking and entering or trespassing, it would be a breach of the lease to allow you your tenancy, and you could get of out the lease and potentially seek damages (which would be up to the judge's discretion). Of course, if there was actual physical damages, like stolen items, that would also constitute criminal charges, not just L/T contractual damages. As a tenant, you can sue your landlord for breach of contract, it is not just the landlord's right.

 

Try not to get to worried yet (although I would get that security deal going, regardless) - it could be that if you'd JUST moved in, he wanted to check one last thing, maybe something like a loose window latch, leaky pipe, etc., and just figured he scootch in one last time to double check the plumber fixed it. Of course, if you've been in for days already, that would be even more egregious of him.

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