Can a landlord lock me out of my commercial space and demand that I still pay the remainder of my lease?

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Can a landlord lock me out of my commercial space and demand that I still pay the remainder of my lease?

I’m renting a commercial space in my county for the purpose of Band Rehearsals (stated on lease). Last week an old heater supposedly leaked onto the tenant below us. They gained access to our room and replaced the leak pipe and changed the lock. We were never notified by phone of the emergency. A band mate went to the space later that day and noticed the change of lock. We notified the manager and she said they found evidence of partying and weed and we had to remove our stuff and pay the lease off. We were able to gain entrance and took our equipment. We later found out a $2000 amp was missing.

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Landlords may NOT simply lock tenants out: to evict you, they must go through the courts. The timing is more streamlined for a commercial eviction than a residential and commercial tenants enjoy somewhat less protection; that said, there still must be a judgment in the landlord's favor before an eviction. You may sue the landlord for an improper eviction.

2) A landlord may NEVER simply take your belongings, unless you gave the landlord the right (e.g. offered them the amp in exchange for one month's rent). If the landlord took deliberately, it's theft; even if they simply carelessly allowed it to stolen, you could sue them.

3) Whether you have to pay the remainder of the lease or not after being evicted depends on circumstances, but at the point at which you are illegally evicted, you may not have to pay from that point forward.

You should speak with an attorney with landlord-tenant experience.


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