Today’s economy is still pretty rough. Across the country millions are struggling to make ends meet and for some of them, it’s left them fighting for their homes. Foreclosures are still happening at a high rate, and many landlords are finding it difficult to get stable, long term tenants. While a lease protects them and gives them certain rights, what if your tenants are of the commercial variety? These sorts of tenants present a whole different set of challenges, and they two are often finding it hard to make ends meet in this tough economic climate. If your tenant is not paying rent, what can you do? Fortunately there are options in your commercial lease.
First, read over the lease carefully and if necessary, consult with a lawyer to be sure you know exactly what you can and can’t do. It’s in your best interest to work with your tenant as much as possible, since getting rent from them, even if it’s late or only partial, is preferable to the hassle of having to find a new tenant. If the tenant is unwilling to work with you however, your only option may be to lock them out. If you need to pursue this option you must follow the law. First, you can’t lock out a tenant who is physically on the premises. Some tenants know this and will make arrangements to stay there 24/7. If this happens, you’ll have to go to court and get a forcible detainer. You also cannot execute the lock out if it would constitute a breach of public peace. In other words, showing up at your tenant’s retail store on Black Friday and attempting to execute a lock out would not be advisable nor in all likelihood considered valid. When you do decided to move forward with the lockout, consult with the police, have witnesses with you, and keep any notice you leave professional. You are no allowed to slander you tenant in any way.
Hopefully you’ll never have to lock out a tenant, but if you do, make sure you protect yourself and know your rights!