How can we terminate the lease or transfer it?

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How can we terminate the lease or transfer it?

My friend opened a discount store in a mall this month. We were approved to sell cell phone accessories, computer accessories, and many other items. These items are spelled out in our contract. Last week we received a letter from the mall manager stating, “Due to restrictions within another tenant’s lease which was overlooked by the mall property, we will be amending your use clause to not include cellular and computer accessories. Additionaly, all cellular and computer accessories must be removed from your selling area no later than Monday”. If we transfer it to somebody else, am I responsible for lease if they don’t pay rent?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The mall or landlord (or whomever you're leasing from) cannot unilaterally change a lease after the fact; if there is a lease stating that you may sell certain items in your store, you may sell them--it doesn't matter to you that there may be a clause in a different person's lease restricting competition. If the mall erred by executing your lease without restrictions, thereby violating the other person's lease, they may be liable to the other person for breach of contract--but that does not affect  your rights.

If the mall is trying to change the terms on you after the fact, you may be entitled to monetary damages; you may be entitled to a court order directing the mall to enforce your lease as written (let you sell everything they had originally agreed to let you sell); and/or to terminate the lease without penalty. You should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate the specific facts of your case in detail, and help you vindicate your rights in the best way.


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