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KMG

Commercial lease constructive eviction

6 posts in this topic

I am the tenant.  Our former landlord is suing us for rent because we vacated the commercial property a few months before the end of the lease.  We had given 2 months notice after attempting to get him to resolve a nuisance he caused, which he refused, and paid up until the last day we were there.  We left due to a classic constructive eviction which I am going to counter sue him.

 

While gathering the evidence online last night, I came across an online post where the new tenant in our old space announced they were moving in.  This was 9 days after we vacated.  We have dated photos showing the space was being renovated the following week.  

 

We are being sued for rent for that month and the month following.

 

How in the world are we being sued, besides the fact that the landlord thinks we may be unaware that he had re-leased the space and renovations had started?  In South Carolina, are there any kind of additional damages we can sue for because of his intentional attempt not only to get us to leave but now his attempt to double dip and collect rent from us while he was renovating the unit for his next tenant?

 

 

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18 minutes ago, KMG said:

How in the world are we being sued, besides the fact that the landlord thinks we may be unaware that he had re-leased the space and renovations had started? 

 

Anybody can sue anybody for anything. That's the "how" of it.

 

One of the basic doctrines of contract law is that the non-breaching party cannot profit from your alleged breach. So that's a defense you can raise.

 

21 minutes ago, KMG said:

In South Carolina, are there any kind of additional damages we can sue for because of his intentional attempt not only to get us to leave but now his attempt to double dip and collect rent from us while he was renovating the unit for his next tenant?

 

If you can actually prove (not just say) wrongful or illegal eviction you can countersue for any monetary damages you actually incurred as a result of having to move out early.

 

Understand, however, that you could fail there if you had remedies for the alleged "nuisance" that you didn't avail yourself of contemporaneously.

 

 

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52 minutes ago, KMG said:

How in the world are we being sued

 

This question makes little sense.  How you are being sued is because your former landlord filed a lawsuit.  If you're asking for complete strangers to explain the landlord's thought process, that's obviously a little silly.

 

 

53 minutes ago, KMG said:

are there any kind of additional damages we can sue for because of his intentional attempt not only to get us to leave but now his attempt to double dip and collect rent from us while he was renovating the unit for his next tenant?

 

No, but the fact that the landlord re-let the premises before your lease term expired -- if proven -- is obviously a defense.

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Yes, sorry for the how in the world question.  I do know anyone can sue, it's just frustrating to have to deal with this.  I've kept good documentation just in case we were sued and consulted with a retired judge and the local police along the way and have tried to do everything correctly.  I'll be representing myself against a well known attorney and have been advised to request a jury trial.

 

In the complaint for breach of contract, the attorney lists the wrong address and attached a lease that we did not sign.  I have the email where the landlord sent us the corrected lease with the right address and with an addendum of changes.  That's the one we signed years ago.  They do have our signature page though.

 

Also, in another point in the complaint, the attorney doubled the amount of the monthly rent.

 

I'm assuming that if I just ask for a dismissal for these errors that they will just re-file.  

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8 minutes ago, KMG said:

I'm assuming that if I just ask for a dismissal for these errors that they will just re-file.  

 

You wouldn't even get a dismissal. What's in, or attached to, the complaint is not grounds for dismissal. It is, however, items that you can raise as an affirmative defense in your answer and then seek the appropriate documents during discovery.

 

What counts is what is presented as EVIDENCE during the trial.

 

10 minutes ago, KMG said:

I'll be representing myself against a well known attorney

 

Going up against an attorney without one of your own is like taking a rubber knife to a gunfight. You'll be the one on the ground bleeding.

 

11 minutes ago, KMG said:

have been advised to request a jury trial.

 

Advised by who? Your auto mechanic, doctor, grocer?

 

I don't see any advantage to a jury trial for a couple of months rent. Besides, you might have to pay for the jury if you lose. Worse, if your lease has a bilateral attorney fee provision you might end up paying for your enemy's lawyer if you lose.

 

I suggest you seek the advice of an attorney before you get in over your head. You have some potential defenses but I doubt that you know how to successfully present them.

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This is very small town stuff.  The amount of back rent is less than my attorney's fees would be.  The court's office will assist in making sure you have the right forms and fill them out correctly, they just won't give legal advice, of course.  

 

The advice to opt for a jury (no extra fees) was two fold, first, in case the judge golfs with the attorney or landlord and second, that it would be a David vs Goliath scenario, with me being an older kind grandma figure who owns a well liked family business, going against the big city attorney and landlord.  

 

But you are correct, I know just enough law to get me in trouble.  I'll go to the court's office next week after I have all our evidence together and then before trial, I'll have my retired judge friend grill me.

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