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I have a retail commercial lease in a small shopping strip.

My lease included 7,700 sq...
I have a retail commercial lease in a small shopping strip. My lease included 7,700 sq. ft. and the lease expired after 8 years. It is now on month to month for several years. The landlord hired a broker to manage his property and this broker is demanding that I relinquish about 2000 sq. ft. of it without compensating for it. The broker says that this 2,000 sq ft should not have been included in the first place so I must relinquish that portion now. Also the broker wants to raise the rent. Original rent was $3,700/month but the owner lowered it to $3,300/month verbally because of slow down in economy. The broker says verbal agreement to lower the rent doesn't matter and not binding.My understanding of how the lease works is that I'm still under original lease even though it is expired and it automatically becomes month-to-month under the same lease terms from the original lease. So I should not be forced to give up third of my lease space. Can he take away the space and ignore the verbally agreed lowered rent? What rights do I have and can they force me to give up the space or kick me out? My rents are all up-to-date. How should I handle this?
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
3/9/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10,238
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Additionally, I'm in the state of North Carolina.
Thank you and I'll wait.

Great, thank you! The system may automatically ask you for a phone call; however, it’s not required that you take it. Bear with me a moment while I review…

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Still with you. I'm sorry for the delay.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I'm okay. As long as I get legally sound answer, I can wait, doesn't have to be immediate. Take your time.

Ok, thanks for your patience. I'm sorry for the long delay. There's a few legal issues here that are present so I'll address them individually.

1. If two parties modify an agreement, it doesn't ordinarily have to be in writing so long as one of the parties can show that there was some consent by both parties to the modification. In your case, if the rent was lowered to 3300 per month, even if it wasn't in writing, it would still be enforceable.

2. If a tenant and a landlord lease agreement expires, the terms of the old lease are going to control unless otherwise stipulated in the lease; however, with at least 30 days written notice, a landlord can change the terms to be effective the new month. The reason is because when a tenant is on a month to month agreement, it's basically like the rental agreement starts over each month. The court will look to the old lease for terms, but the landlord has the right to change the terms once the lease ends. In your case, so long as you get written notice by the landlord that they are going to be limiting your space, then your space can be limited.

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Until and unless the landlord provides the written notice, this appears to be a classic breach of contract. A breach of contract just simply means that one party was obligated to perform and they have either have not performed or have said that they will not perform. Typically, the aggrieved party is entitled to be returned to the same position they were in before the breach. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for advising of a breach of contract. It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. If this doesn’t work, sadly, the only other option is to either go through an informal mediation or file a lawsuit in your local court. This website is also pretty cool because you can download the forms right after purchasing. Click here to get started. What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
If the landlord has the right to change the terms every 30 days, then they can kick me out if I do not agree to his terms. Is that correct? If they decide to kick me out then how long do I have to vacate the premise?

Correct. They have to provide at least 30 days written notice though before they do so. You can also leave with 30 days written notice as well. How else can I help you today?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
If the expired lease says that the lease will become month-to-month when the lease expires, doesn't that imply that the terms of the lease will be in force as long as I stay?

Yes, but it's a bit complicated.

Generally they will be in force as long you stay, but the landlord has the right to change the terms for the upcoming month. The law will let the old lease terms be the terms until that time. Does that make sense?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Last question. So basically, they can present any unacceptable terms (no matter how ridiculous it might be) to kick me out in 30 days no matter what those terms might be?

Sadly, yes. But of course you don't have to agree. It just means you'd have to move.

One little known, but very effective tool that lawyers use when there isn’t a law that they can rely on to support their position is called principled negotiation. All this means is that you are looking to get something done on the basis of principles, even if you can’t find a law to support you. It takes the anxiety out of dealing with the other side because you’re focused on the facts, not each other.

Here are some simple steps you can follow:

  1. Figure out what the other side’s interests are (saving money, saving time, etc.?);

  2. Think about what your interests are (saving money, saving time, etc.?);

  3. Come up with 2 to 3 reasonable and objective ways to solve the problem;

  4. Present it to the other side;

  5. If the other side rejects, ask them, “Is there a reason why you do not feel it is necessary to negotiate?”

Of course, these are just building blocks to get the other party to help solve the dispute. Believe me when I say that good lawyers use this technique all the time to keep things out of court. You’ll find that it is very effective even with the most stubborn of individuals.

If you've been a paying tenant, you could explain to them that in exchange for a reasonable lease agreement, perhaps they could give you a break on rent, or perhaps you could agree to take care of certain repairs or even sign a 3 year lease (For example) to provide them some security in exchange to keeping your 7700 square feet.

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