Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/Commercial Lease
I signed a lease for a commercial space to use as a studio for a photography business. It is in an old converted factory that has no heat or a/c going directly to the unit. However, I rented the space in the spring when the weather was pretty nice, and the landlord told me that she kept a thermometer in the space and with the surrounding areas being heated it never got colder then 60 degrees and that I would be able to plug in space heaters if needed to keep it a decent temperature. Once it actually came to be winter the space was freezing cold, in the mid 30's most of the time making it impossible to even use for my business, since I primarily photograph kids and babies. I also tried to use space heaters and even plugging in one small one caused the old electrical in the building to blow the fuse every time. So now I have no way to heat the space and cannot use it at all. I confronted the landlord with the issue and she said there was nothing she could do since it was an old building. Is there any way to get out of the lease since it was misrepresented?
Before I respond further to your question, I must make clear that I do not represent you, and cannot give you individual particularized legal advice. No attorney client relationship is created by this email. For legal advice, you should hire your own attorney, and follow their advice. My role with AllExperts is limited to providing general information and suggestions for educational or general knowledge purposes. Before you take any action, consult with your own attorney.
In my state and likely yours, every tenancy carries with it a warranty of habitability or a promise that the place is suitable for use. Many folks over-interpret that to mean a lot more than most judges will take seriously, but lack of heat seems to me to be a meritorious habitability issue.
Here in Minneapolis, we have "Housing" Court that deals with habitability and other landlord-tenant conflicts regarding rental property. In other jurisdictions, there may be similar specialty courts or these things might be addressed in district court. Check with your local courthouse for particular information.
Typically, a tenant in your situation would do well to proceed with a rent abatement action. Consult an attorney licensed in your area to learn about what that process is called locally, and how it works. Frequently, a tenant has to give written notice to the landlord of the problem, and if that doesn't solve things, post the rent with the court along with a completed petition and/or complaint. A hearing will usually be scheduled wherein among other things a judge may order that the landlord fix/provide suitable heat, restore your rent to you and void the lease, or provide other rulings. I would not think it prudent to act other than as provided in your local rules. Find an attorney with experience with landlord/tenant issues, whether residential or commercial shouldn't matter, and I think you will get your circumstances improved.
I hope this helps, good luck to you.
SMITH & RAVER LLP
Conciliation Court * Civil Litigation * Forfeitures * Construction * Family Law