Can a landlord padlock a commercial building?

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Can a landlord padlock a commercial building?

I lease a commercial warehouse and have fallen behind 2 months rent. The landlord of the property has padlocked the door keeping me from having access to my property and tools, which has prevented me from having any chance of working to pay my rent. I was given no notice of this action, never sent any papers or eviction notices. I contacted one attorney who said he couldn’t determine what action I might have without seeing my lease but I am not able to review my lease because it is in a filing cabinet in the building. Do I have any legal options that will allow me access to my property?

Asked on June 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Evictions have to be done through the court system, in the proper way; a  landlord may not simply padlock a door. Of course, if the landlord had gone through the courts, he or she would have been able to evict you if you are 2 months behind on rent. Also, when an eviction occurs, the tenant must have been given proper notice and must have also had an opportunity to access their belongings. Therefore, you can almost certainly bring a legal action for improper eviction, for compensation or to be restored to access; but as noted above, the landlord will be able to then bring an eviction action and win, unless you pay the rent. Therefore, you can buy some time, but probably not do much more than that. Ideally, unless you can pay the rent and get caught up, you and the landlord will work this out--e.g. let him know you'll sue for improper eviction unless he lets you out of the lease and lets your retrieve your belongings. You may have to agree to pay some of the money you owe, too, but then again, legally you are obligated and the landlord can sue you anyway.


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