How do I walk out of a commercial lease without being sued?

I have 2 years left on my commercial lease, the landlord will not let me leave. He allowed another tenant to run a prositution ring upstairs after it was raided last year my business declined by 50% and now allows another tenant to sell drugs from another apartment upstairs from my business. This has killed the traffic of my legitimate business on the first floor of the building. I tried talking to the landlord and he tells me that I am the only person paying rent and that if I leave he will sue me. There has to be a legal way out.

Asked on August 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may be able to get out of your lease on the theory that the landlord is violating the "covenant of quiet enjoyment"--or your right to use the space for its intended purpose--by allowing criminal activity which is driving away your business. You may also be able to break the lease on the similar theory that there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, or the landlord's obligation to provide rental space fit (safe) for use--and the permitted criminal activity is rendering the space unsafe and unfit.

These are not straightforward or easy rights to vindicate by breaking a lease, and if you do it incorrectly, you will be liable to the landlord. You are advised to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney and let him/her guide you before taking action.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may be able to get out of your lease on the theory that the landlord is violating the "covenant of quiet enjoyment"--or your right to use the space for its intended purpose--by allowing criminal activity which is driving away your business. You may also be able to break the lease on the similar theory that there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, or the landlord's obligation to provide rental space fit (safe) for use--and the permitted criminal activity is rendering the space unsafe and unfit.

These are not straightforward or easy rights to vindicate by breaking a lease, and if you do it incorrectly, you will be liable to the landlord. You are advised to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney and let him/her guide you before taking action.


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