What to do if our landlord wants to charge us for using parking spaces if we use them for outdoor seating for our restaurant?

We rent a space for a retail/bar/restaurant establishment. According to the lease 4 parking spaces are included. We filled 2 spaces with an outdoor seating area. Now, our landlords want to charge us for the use of the parking spaces if we continue to use for outdoor seating.

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

They may be able to do this. Much depends on the exact language of the lease, but as a general proposition, if the lease gave you *parking* spaces, they could be used for parking--but not for other purposes; that follows from the fact that in interpreting leases, the ordinary and customary meaning of words will be used if there is not a definition to the contrary, and the ordinary meaning of a "parking" space would be a space to park vehicles--not a space for tables and outdoor seating. Since you are using the space in a way which goes against the common purpose of parking spots, and thefore likely outside the parties' mutual contemplation when the lease was signed, it is likely that the landlord does not need to provide these spaces for  free if you are not using them for parking.


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