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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 116716
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Starting Jan. 1st of this year, I leased 5 parking spaces from

Customer Question

Starting Jan. 1st of this year, I leased 5 parking spaces from a landlord to place and operate a food truck. The lease agreement was for 1 year. After 4 months of operation I decided that due to a number of unfortunate circumstances, I would have to put the truck up for sale. So, not wanting to continue to pay $650.00 per month (the amount of the monthly lease) I informed the landlord or property owner that I was going to have to break the lease, and that I needed to move the truck and that I understood if he wanted to kept my security deposit of $650.00. The landlord then informed me that I still would owe him $2500.00 which represented the amount for what it had cost him for removing the snow from the parking lot during last winter. Some background: There are 4 stores or businesses in this plaza that rent from the same landlord. I assume that the way the landlord figured out what those monthly rents are each year, is to include all expenses , repairs utilities, etc as well as the yearly cost of snow removal and divide it equally among his tenets. Since I became his 5th tenet, the landlord figured that 1/5th of the cost of snow removal was my responsibility and so he factored that in and determined that my monthly rent should be $650.00 per month. I have read and re-read the lease agreement we both signed and I see no provision or addendum that specifically says that if I were to break the lease agreement that I'd still owe the landlord for 1/5 of the yearly snow removal fee. The truck was promptly removed from the lot and all improvements were removed as well which included a 12 ft. utility pole that I had paid for and installed to provide electrical power to the truck during it's operation. When I removed the truck, I left the 5 parking parking spaces just as I had originally found them. The landlord through text messages and emails is now threatening me. I will copy and paste them here:
1st email May 12th:
Hi Curtis,
Here is a follow up to my text from last week.
You have paid 4 months of a 12 month lease, plus a security deposit equal to 1 months rent.
Your lease was based on renting 5 parking spaces at $50/space equals $250/mo.
The added estimated snow removal cost was $5,000, I rounded that number to $4,800 and divided by 12 months which equals $400/month.
Total monthly rent equals $650/month.
My actual added snow removal bill was $6,380.
You have paid 4 x $400 equals $1,600, plus the security deposit of $650 equals $2,250.
$4,800 minus $2,250 equals $2,550.
Please forward a check for $2,550 and I will send you a letter releasing you from the balance of the lease.
2nd email July 14th
Hi Curtis,
Before I create a big lawyer bill that I will generate chasing you for money - could we get this closed.
Also the pole needs to be removed in the parking lot.
BTW, the utility pole was removed 3 weeks ago, but I guess the landlord hasn't bothered to drive by and see this.
So, my question is this: 1. Am I legally bound to pay the landlord for snow removal? 2. How do I go about defending myself against this landlord?
I'd be happy to scan and send you the 5 page lease agreement if that would help
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
What does the lease actually say as to what the tenant would be liable to pay, such as rent, a CAM charge (common area maintenance) etc?
If you breached the lease, you realize he can sue you for the entire balance of the lease?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am including a copy of the lease for your review. Please respond after you have had a chance to read it. Thank you
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Paragraph 2 discusses the rent you have to pay and associated fees. Nowhere in paragraph 2 does it say you have to pay for any maintenance or snow removal. The only maintenance it says you are liable for is in Paragraph 2e and that is for trash and utilities and maintenance of utilities.
Thus, you are liable for paying rent to the landlord for the breach of the contract and he can force you to pay rent until the end of the term of the contract. This is the reason people use written contracts, to bind people to what they agree upon and if you could just walk away with losing your security deposit only, leases would be pretty much useless to put into writing.
So you will now have to negotiate a settlement with him, because if you refuse his demand and he sues you, the court can make you liable for the remainder of the entire $7800 that you agreed to pay in the lease.