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Chris The Lawyer
Chris The Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: New Zealand Law
Satisfied Customers: 24149
Experience:  38 years qualified as a lawyer; LLB, MMgt and FAMINZ.
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I took a one year lease on a commercial property to open my

Customer Question

I took a one year lease on a commercial property to open my Interior Design and home furnishing business. The commencement date was October 1st last year. In December, my husband was diagnosed with early dementia and in January, as the situation was not getting any better, I advised my landlord that I would be closing the business to care for my husband and would have March 1st as an evacuation date. I finally heard back on March 8th from the landlord that although they were sorry for my situation, they would require the entire lease to be fulfilled with a consideration of a half month rent for the month of April. I do have permission to sub lease but the terms are NO FOOD so it is quite difficult. I am placing another ad to see if there is any interest so am prepared to do my part. I find it unfortunate that I was not given the opportunity to employ a person to run the store for me as I suppose I was expecting a little more consideration due to the nature of my situation but no contact was afforded me until March 8th with an emailed letter from their solicitors. Do I have any recourse here at all?
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: This is in New Zealand. Christchurch City.
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: All my rent and maintenance for the common area was paid in full on the due date and I paid for the Month of March as a courtesy before my move out. There are no outstanding bills for any services to the unit.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: New Zealand Law
Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 8 months ago.

The problem with a lease for a fixed term is that the landlord is entitled to insist on payment of rent until the term expires, as I am sure his lawyer has explained. Generally if you can assign the lease or find a subtenant that will be sufficient for most landlords, but if you have signed the standard form lease commonly used, you remain liable until the end of the term in any event, if the assignee or subtenant defaults.

So where the landlord chooses not to take into account your personal circumstances, they can insist and enforce payment of rent until the end of the term. As this is a commercial tenancy, there are no grounds for early termination unless there are breaches of the lease. So in this situation it is important to find the subtenant or assign the lease, as otherwise you will remain liable.

Unfortunately therefore you don't have any real remedy because of personal circumstances, and will need to find someone to take over the lease

Expert:  Chris The Lawyer replied 8 months ago.

Please let me know if you have further questions