Can I break a commercial lease if my landlords intentionally charged me for water usage from the building next door?

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Can I break a commercial lease if my landlords intentionally charged me for water usage from the building next door?

I have a commercial lease for my business and just found out that my landlords have been charging me for the water use from the tenets next door. This was not an accident of any kind. The landlord knew at the time I signed my lease that the building next to us was taped into our water meter and never disclosed it. Does this give me grounds to break my lease? I have asked several times to see the water bills that come straight from the water company but they refuse to provide them.

Asked on June 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You certainly would have grounds for  a lawsuit to recover any amounts which you were overcharged, and possibly additional compensation, too. Also, if the landlord knew, as you suggest, prior to your signing the lease that the other building was tapped into your water and failed to disclose that fact, that could consitute fraud, which in addition to giving you grounds for monetary compensation, might allow you to rescind, or void, the lease. From what you write, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney (preferrably one with experience in commercial leases) to see what your best options are.


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