Civil/Commercial Litigation (Lawsuits)/problems with landlord
I own a restaurant that is located in a little strip mall. However, our landlord is one of the biggest companies that owns shopping centers throughout the country. We have been associated with the property for 20 years. This company just purchased the property less than 10 years ago. We have never had any problems with our previous landlords. Even when this company bought the property we did not have any problems until recently. From about a month ago, they started giving us these ridiculous citations stating that we have violated parts of the lease, such as leaving boxes by the back door and having signs taped on our windows. Every one of our neighbors have violated these rules too, but we are the only ones getting cited. The landlord is saying that everyone is getting cited, but I asked other tenants and they say they haven't gotten any citations. While no other tenants have any citations, we have gotten 4 citations plus fines. After each citation we correct the problem right away. However, the next day they come back with a citation for something else. We are not doing these things on purpose. We just weren't aware of them and no one has said anything about them. If we were given a warning, then we would've fixed it. Just being the only ones always getting cited really makes me mad. I really feel like we are being singled out and that they are picking on us. I'm more worried because our lease is up in about 2 years and have a feeling they won't renew our lease. We have become an institution in this area and this location is very important to us, so it is crucial that we renew our lease. But with the landlord being so unjustly against us, it seems like we will have to leave. Is it possible the landlord can evict us before our lease is up? I'm worried they'll say that we have too many violations or that we are difficult tenants and that they will evict us for that.
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.
You might do well to find and read your lease, and any other rules regarding your tenancy. As long as you intend to stay at that location, it sounds like you'd better follow all the rules. It may be helpful to capture any evidence that supports your belief that the citations are being enforced sporadically or unfairly. It's possible that you can demonstrate some kind of discriminatory practice regarding that enforcement disparity. I suggest that you consult with your attorney at once about your rights under your lease, and your observation that you are apparently being unfairly targeted.
Your landlord can, and it sounds like is inclined to, proceed with its rights including eviction if you fail to execute your obligations. I shouldn't guess without seeing your lease what effects if any your citations have on eviction. Usually, landlord's can't and don't evict tenants who pay their rent.
Talk to a lawyer in your area sooner rather than later. It may be wise to explore your options for a nearby space if things don't work out with your current landlord. Who knows, perhaps in a couple of years, you will have a grand re-opening extravaganza to celebrate your new location, and do better business without your obnoxious landlord picking on you about boxes.
I hope this helps, good luck to you.
SMITH & RAVER LLP
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