Atlanta Lease Default Litigation Attorney
The enforcement of provisions of a commercial lease is not an easy process. When working to enforce a lease or to defend against a lease obligation, the first place to look for a lease litigator is the default section and then the remedy section of the lease. These sections are intertwined and must be written in a manner that is consistent with case law and the Georgia Code. Some remedy provisions may go beyond what the courts have determined to be legally enforceable. For example, certain self-help provisions to take back possession of a property may go beyond what is allowed by law. In addition, some remedies attempted by property management may go too far. While a manager or a landlord may believe it is a good idea to cut off the water on a defaulting tenant, the manager may find himself or herself in violation of law by doing so. Before pursuing a particular provision of a lease or seeking compensation, we would advise you to check with an attorney to ensure that you are not in violation of the law regardless of what the lease states. Even an experienced property owner may find themselves in court facing legal troubles and significant financial liability for damages and fines.
One of the areas the attorneys at Hecht Walker, P.C. focus on is real estate law and the representation of commercial landlords, commercial tenants, property managers, and commercial brokers. We have decades of experience related to real estate law, and our real estate litigation attorneys are prepared to provide quality legal advice to all of our clients.
A large part of our practice includes drafting or revising leases and other real estate documents. We have extensive experience representing commercial landlords and property managers in relation to enforcing leases and seeking default and dispossessory warrants on defaulting commercial tenants. Additionally, if you are a commercial tenant facing eviction due to an unresolved dispute, our skilled attorneys stand ready to review the terms of your lease and advise you of the best option for moving forward and defending against unlawful enforcement actions.
Why is specific wording so important in a lease agreement?
In all legal documents, and certainly when disputes arise between landlords and tenants, the outcome often rests squarely on the details held in those documents. Addressing potential obstacles at the contract stage will go a long way to prevent disputes later. Matters such as to whether post-eviction rent will be due, how the premises must be left, what happens to personal property left by the tenant and other details that may not be immediately obvious, should be addressed in a detailed manner that leaves little or no room for interpretation.
Are the obligations within a lease terminated after eviction?
In the state of Georgia, the language of the remedies section is critical in terms of whether post-eviction obligations may be imposed upon the tenant. Obligations may still exist on the part of both parties involved depending on the terms of the lease. Acceleration clauses, improvement paybacks, after dispossessory rent and abated rent should be addressed and provided for on the front end of the lease. The attorneys at Hecht Walker, P.C. can assist commercial landlords and commercial tenants in the drafting of these and other lease provisions. Further, we can provide legal guidance later in the event litigation becomes necessary.
What is a Common Area Maintenance Charge?
In commercial leases, you may see the word CAM charge, which stands for common area maintenance. These provisions may be poorly described in the lease or may refer to another document such as a declaration of covenants that is filed in the real estate records office. These charges may be hard to determine if you are the tenant and sometimes difficult to determine if you are the property manager. Generally, the charges are for the upkeep of common areas and may rise or decline based on a certain formula and number of tenants leasing within the premises. These provisions will end up in litigation sometimes due to a failure of language, formula or notification. We have many years of litigation experience surrounding this issue, and we understand the great concerns that these added costs bear upon both the landlord and the tenant.
What is an acceleration clause in a lease agreement?
Generally, an acceleration clause is a provision in a lease agreement that basically matures the terms of the lease upon a breach of contract; it speeds up the timeframe for rent and other financial obligations due under the Lease. For instance, a renter enters into an agreement to lease a property for 12 consecutive months and per the contract, agrees to pay $1,000 per month for the use of the facilities. The rent is paid on time for the first three months; however, the renter misses the fourth payment. An acceleration clause within the agreement may state that this is a breach of contract and the absence of the fourth payment automatically matures the lease. Upon proper notice, the landlord may be entitled to request the full remaining balance on the lease. The renter may have to pay the remaining lease balance that’s owed in order to continue to use the facilities. The acceleration clause may have enforcement difficulties or may be written as an unenforceable penalty depending on the language of the clause.
What is abated rent?
In many new leases, the landlord may abate the rent for a number of months in order to draw a tenant into a longer lease term or to provide an incentive over and above competitive properties. If there is a dispossessory event, otherwise known to the public as an eviction, the landlord will seek to recoup the abated rent. The ability to seek such abated rent depends on the terms of the lease agreement and related case law.
In many commercial leases, the landlord may supply the renter with certain services other than the actual space. It could include cleaning services or perhaps air conditioning. The property owner may insist on a clause that releases him from any responsibility associated with service interruptions. An example may be if the utilities are briefly shut down in order to perform maintenance. The lessee may insist on an abatement clause that provides for an interruption in payments for as long as the service is unavailable or the premises are otherwise usable again.
How do commercial and residential leases differ?
There are many distinctions between commercial and residential leases. Commercial lease terms are typically agreed upon by the business tenant and the property owner with the understanding that a commercial property will be used to generate a profit and will not be used as a primary residence. Residential leases come with their own legal considerations and certain disclosure obligations that may not be required of a commercial property.
The laws that govern Georgia’s commercial real estate are specific, and it is important to remain in compliance. While the commercial tenant maintains the right of quiet enjoyment, the commercial landlord maintains financial rights against monetary default and against improper uses of the property as specified in the Lease. If we can assist you as a commercial landlord, commercial tenant, asset or property manager or commercial broker, please do not hesitate to call the legal team at Hecht Walker, P.C. We look forward to discussing your case and forming a fruitful partnership as we strive to mount a strategic and effective defense in your case. Call 404-369-3073.
This information was posted on 08-23-2016 and does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The law changes on a daily basis and the reader should engage an attorney through a written agreement before taking action in this area of the law.