If our landlord just gave us 1 month to vacate our business and we have been there for 6 years, do we have any recourse?

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If our landlord just gave us 1 month to vacate our business and we have been there for 6 years, do we have any recourse?

We operate a successful business we have been building for 10 years. We began with our current landlord in 2005. We have never had a lease even though we have asked for one. Have paid our rent every month for 6 years and even made many improvements at our expense. We operate in a seasonal vacation area and paid rent all winter only to be told we have to leave right when the money season is about to begin. He said he needs the space to open his own business. This seems very wrong. Do we have a leg to stand on?

Asked on April 16, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you may not have a leg to stand on in this case. You say that you have never had a written lease. If you only have an oral or verbal lease, then you are a month to month tenant. A month to month tenancy can be terminated by either party--by the tenant or the landlord--on one month's notice. The landlord has the legal right to terminate your lease and your occupancy with one month's notice; it may be wrong, but it's still his right.

If you made improvements at your cost recently (e.g. this last season), then you *might* be able to establish an equitable right to stay through this next season; the argument would be that the improvements to the landlord's property were made in consideration of remaining through the next season. (Older improvements would likely not help; you'd likely be considered to already have been compensated for them by the time you've been there.) It would be an uphill argument, but would be worth trying; if this is the case, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney who can evaluate the strength of your case and represent you.


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