What are a commercial tenant’s rights regarding repair to their rental?

I have been leasing a restaurant for the past 2 years and since the first year the ceiling has been leaking. I have made the landlord aware of the problem via letters and pictures. Up until now he has not repaired the leaks. The ceiling has now collapsed and we are now unable to open for business. We are several months behind on rent and now we are faced with this situation with the ceiling collapsing. I have found some one to repair the roof leaks and replace the ceiling in the kitchen. Every repair that has needed to be done I have had to fix it and take it out of the rent.

Asked on December 29, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

See a landlord-tenant attorney--one with commercial experience--immediately, because you may have some liability. A landlord must maintain premises in such condition that they are "fit" for their intended purpose--e.g. that you can run you business in it. If a landlord does not, he may possibly be liable for your losses or damages as well for a reduction or abatement in rent. It is also *often* possible to pay for the cost of repairs arranged by the tenant by having the tenant take it out of the rent; BUT if this not done properly, then you can be liable for nonpayment, which means, among other things, that you could be evicted. Since you are also behind on rent--another ground for both liabilty and eviction--but have potential claims of your own, you should definitely consult with an attorney to advise you and take appropriate action on your behalf.


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