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Exploring Different Lease Violations and Their Solutions

Feb 16, 2024

As complex legal agreements, commercial leases dictate the relationship between landlords and their commercial tenants. However, due to misunderstandings or outright disobedience to these arrangements, commercial lease violations occur, affecting relationships, business operations, and even legality.

Use this guide to dive deep into the intricacies of these agreements, distinct violations, and their repercussions, alongside potential solutions. Understanding and respect for these agreements is beneficial for all parties involved, contributing to seamless business operations and healthy landlord-tenant relationships.

Common Commercial Lease Violations

There are a variety of ways that commercial tenants can violate the terms of their lease agreement. Some of the most common commercial lease violations include:

  1. Late Rent Payments or Non-Payment: One of the most frequent lease violations is tenants failing to pay rent on time or skipping payments entirely. This is grounds for default and can allow the landlord to take actions like eviction.
  2. Property Damage and Disrepair: Tenants are responsible for properly maintaining the leased space and may be violating the lease if they cause excessive property damage or allow the unit to fall into disrepair.
  3. Unauthorized Subleasing or Assignment of Lease: The commercial lease specifies who is allowed to occupy the space. Subleasing to another party or assigning the lease without the landlord’s written approval is prohibited in most standard leases. Similarly, tenants who sublet, or rent out the leased space without the landlord’s consent, violate the lease terms and potentially introduce unsuitable occupants.
  4. Disruptive Operations Affecting Co-Tenants or Violating Zoning Laws: The lease specifies permissible use of the unit, including maintaining certain hours of operation. Actions like expanded hours, illegal activities, disruptive warehouse operations, or violating local zoning laws would violate the lease.
  5. Unapproved Alterations: It is typically forbidden for tenants to make changes to the leased property without permission, possibly affecting its value and safety, or violating local building codes and landlord’s property rights.
  6. Abandonment: In these circumstances, the tenant vacates the property without notice or intention to return before the lease expires, leaving the landlord without rent and an unoccupied space.
  7. Overstaying Lease Terms: Alternatively, tenants that remain on the property after the lease has ended without securing a renewal or extension violate the lease agreement and occupy the space unlawfully.

The Consequences of a Violated Lease Agreement

When a landlord experiences a lease violation leading to tenant eviction, they can face several financial repercussions. The most immediate costs are those associated with the eviction process itself, which can be substantial. Additionally, the landlord may need to repair or replace property damaged by the tenant, an expense not always covered by security deposits.

Unpaid rent is another common issue, and landlords might claim this lost income as damages. If the lease terms include specific payment obligations, the landlord could demand these as well. Storage fees for abandoned tenant property may also be claimed. The exact damages sought will vary based on individual lease circumstances and the extent of the violation.


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Potential Solutions and Remedies for Commercial Lease Violations

When tenants commit a commercial lease violation, it’s imperative for landlords to first consult with legal counsel, who can then outline a range of potential actions tailored to the specifics of the situation. These experts might suggest options that best protect the landlord’s legal rights, such as the following:

Legal Notices for Lease Violations

Sending a formal lease violation notice is typically among the first steps a landlord should take. These notices alert the tenant about the specific violation and provide an opportunity to correct it within a reasonable timeframe, such as 5–10 days. If the tenant fails to comply, the landlord then has written documentation to support further legal action.

It’s crucial for lease violation notices to be professional and accurate. They should cite relevant sections of the lease, provide photographic evidence if applicable, and avoid emotional language or threats. Sending the notice through certified mail with a return receipt ensures the tenant received it. Common lease violations that would warrant a notice include late or unpaid rent, unauthorized occupants, pets, property damage, and disruptive tenant behavior.

Lease Dispute Mediation or Arbitration

For conflicts between a landlord and tenant, mediation conducted by a neutral third party can help both sides reach an amicable resolution. Mediation is typically voluntary and non-binding, although parties may formalize any agreements in a contract.

If mediation fails, landlords and tenants can resolve disputes through arbitration. This involves presenting evidence and arguments to an arbitrator, who then issues a binding decision. Arbitration can be faster and less expensive than going through the court system.

Eviction or Lease Termination

If a tenant fails to correct a lease violation after proper notice, a landlord may begin the eviction process to remove the tenant and regain possession of the property. Reasons for eviction can include nonpayment, unauthorized subleasing, or criminal activity on the premises.

Landlords must follow strict eviction procedures, which vary by state. These often include formally serving tenants with the right paperwork and obtaining a court order. The process typically takes several weeks at a minimum.

In some cases, landlords may opt to terminate the lease, allowing tenants to voluntarily vacate rather than face formal eviction. However, lease termination still requires appropriate notices and waiting periods.

Legal Proceedings Against Lease Violations

When tenants commit serious criminal offenses against leased property or fail to comply with notices for major lease violations, landlords may file civil lawsuits against them. Common claims include breach of contract, property damage, or loss of rental income.

Lawsuits allow landlords to recover financial damages caused by lease violations, above and beyond regaining possession of the property. However, legal action can be expensive and time-consuming, with no guarantee of success.

Consulting an attorney is essential before pursuing legal action. Lawyers help assemble the necessary evidence and documentation while advising if a lawsuit is worthwhile for the specific circumstances.

Mitigate Commercial Lease Violations With Belkin Burden Goldman, LLP

Are you a landlord or property owner in New York City facing a dispute with a tenant? Our team of expert attorneys understands laws related to rent regulation, including rent stabilization, rent control, affordable housing, and the Loft Law.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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