Commercial Real Estate Investment/Illegal Rent Collection


I entered into a commercial lease on 12/1/12. We had a verbal agreement that if I could not obtain my business license he would refund my money. The city hall meeting is once a month and has been cancelled the last three months. I have paid rent each month, without being able to open the doors. Is this legal for him to do? How do I go about having him apply that money to the months after we obtain license?


You need to hand carry written correspondence to your landlord that essentially repeats what you have stated in your question to me and complete the letter with a statement of what you believe is the correct application of your rental payments for the last three months.  You should also indicate that you intend to be present for the very next City Hall meeting to again attempt acquisition of your business license.

I hope that your landlord has the same memory of what the two of you agreed to regarding when your monthly rental payments would begin to accrue.  Memory can be a very flexible thing.

I note that you state: "without being able to open the doors" in your correspondence.   If you have requested access to your premises and your landlord has not yet provided you access to the premises, I do not believe that your landlord can expect you to have begun paying rent for the leased premises.

You should confront this matter immediately.

Good luck,


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Jim Avancena, CPM


Best qualified to answer questions that involve commercial leases, that is, basic issues as well as the often unexpected effects of the complexities and inter-relationships of the provisions a lease may contain, explain how seemingly innocuous text in your lease can have a major impact on a Tenant or Landlord and their business operations, and the common practices utilized in the industry. I can untangle most matters that may come up from the time a tenant begins searching for a office or store space and the lease acquisition process, concerns related to remodeling/improving the leased premises, moving-in, subletting or assigning the leased space, and a long list of problems that may come up during the lease term and even after a tenant moves out. I have practical experience with most property management issues and resolving landlord and tenant disputes - especially those involving what may appear to be overcharges assessed for additional lease charges like CAM costs, operating expense reimbursement, real estate taxes, utilities, construction improvements etc. Note that I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice.


Thirty years active experience in the commercial real estate industry as a licensed real estate broker in the Washington DC Metro area (DC, Northern Virginia & Maryland). I have been admitted (approved) by the Maryland and DC courts to testify as an expert witness on the subjects of Commercial Leasing and Property Management in the area of standard industry practices. I have had a business for the last 14 years advising virtually every form of business entity from large national corporations to the smallest ma & pa new businesses regarding a wide range of commercial real estate matters in addition to property management and commercial leasing.

Currently my three children keep me so busy that it is difficult to participate in organizations with continuing and specific time requirements.

I publish a local commercial real estate newsletter titled: "Tenants First". My firm was the subject of a high profile Washington Post business section cover page (2.25 full pages) feature story on January 13, 1993; titled "Overcharging Overhead".

BA in Political Science from Memphis University, and five years of study in the real estate development summer program at MIT. I was certified as a commercial property manager (CPM-IREM), and currently hold a brokers license in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Awards and Honors
The same plaques and honors that most others in my industry have earned. I have none that I consider especially meaningful.

Past/Present Clients
Past clients include: The World Bank, George Washington University, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, US Department of Commerce, The American Benefits Council, K-Mart Development, many law firms, a national union, other major organizations, and many, many small business firms and retail operators that I am most honored to serve. I estimate more than 1,500 firms/organizations.

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