What should I do if I breached the terms of my shopping center lease?

In my lease I was responsible for maintaining the interior and exterior A/C and heating. Well just before my lease expired, my A/C went out and the landlord refused to help. An A/C guy came and told me the whole unit was so old that it needed to be replaced, which would cost $6,000 . Well naturally with 2 months left on my lease and me leaving, I wasn’t going to fork out 6 grand to buy them a new unit, so I left a couple months early and refused to pay them the remaining balance on my lease. I couldn’t go 2 months with sweltering heat for me, my employees and customers. Now they are pursuing me with a lawyer.

Asked on June 30, 2014 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that by terminating your lease early and also not paying for the agreed upon A/C repair, you appear to have breached your lease (and through no apparent fault of the landlord). At this point, you need to contact them (assuming that you have already not done so). Since there is now an attorney involved, you will need to communicate with your landlord through them. Hopefully, you can come up with some sort of compromise regarding what you owe. If not, you can be sued in civil court. I would strongly urge you to try and resolve this matter before going to court. If a judgement against you is granted, you will not only owe for the breach of your lease but also for attorney's fees and court costs. It would be much simpler and cheaper to try and resolve the matter now. That having been said, you may want to consult with an attorney in your area. Possibly after reviewing the specific terms of your lease, they may be able to either find you an out in all of this or at least a way to lessen your liability.

Shawn Jackson / The Jackson Law Firm, P.C.

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Well, some of the answer depends upon the specific language within the lease...in that there is often a duty of "maintenance and repair" and a second section on "replacement". In some leases, the cost of replacement is "pro rated" over time and the landlord may have an obligation to pay for part of the replacement costs...so, select an attorney within your state to read the lease and discuss your options.

Shawn Jackson California Business Development Attorney


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