Is it legal for your landlord to open the exact same business as you run in the building you rent?

My husband and I own a tattoo studio. Our landlord went into business with a former employee and opened a tattoo studio in the same strip mall, directly next to us. There have been many occasions that this former employee has come on our property and yelled at my husband and

customers and many other unprofessional instances that we have documented. Is it legal for

our documented landlord to open this business in the first place? There is no non-compete clause in our handwritten, sloppy lease.

Asked on May 3, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there was no non-competition clause, then it is perfectly legal for him to open a competing business in the same building: anyone may open any business, in competition to anyone, when there is no non-competition agreement. 
However, you have the right to exclude the former employee from your premises or rental property: he has no right to come onto/into it if you don't give him permission. Tell him that he is not welcome: then the next time he comes, you can call the police because he is trespassing. You can also inform him that if he tries to scare away or harass your customers, you will sue him for tortious interference with economic advantage--i.e. for wrongfully interfering with your business. You could potentially get monetary compensation and/or a court order that he stop doing this.


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