Landlord-Tenant Dispute Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
Skilled Legal Representation for Businesses
When a company operates a business and leases commercial space from a landlord, disputes may arise that require the assistance of a lawyer. Representing both landlords and tenants, our capable attorneys consult with businesses to assess the claims of their disputes and determine their rights according to their leases. There are a number of reasons that landlords and tenants have disagreements about commercial space, including details of the commercial lease itself, non-payment of rent, and evictions.
The Commercial Lease
Under Florida law, the landlord and tenant of a commercial space are viewed as equally sophisticated parties entering into an agreement. Unlike residential agreements where landlords typically leverage more authority, the commercial tenant is able to negotiate the terms of the commercial lease, adding or withdrawing conditions as needed. Because the commercial tenant has much more latitude than the residential tenant, Florida law does not provide as many protections to the commercial tenant against landlord actions. As a result, disagreements between commercial landlords and tenants are much more likely to be litigated, and the assistance of an attorney may be essential.
Possible landlord-tenant disputes include:
- Non-payment of rent
- Assignment and sublet conflicts
- Disputes over options to renew the lease
- Disputes over fixtures on the property
- Title disputes
- Breach of contract claims
Non-Payment of Rent
Non-payment of rent is one of the most commonly litigated issues among commercial landlords and tenants. Tenants usually withhold rent if they believe the landlord has not met its obligations under the lease in some way. For instance, if a tenant believes that its landlord is responsible for making specific repairs to the property, and the landlord has failed to do so, the tenant may attempt to withhold rent until the repairs are completed. Generally, the commercial lease would indicate which party is responsible for the repairs, but if the parties cannot agree to the same interpretation of the lease agreement, then the parties may need to ultimately litigate the issue. The same type of dispute may arise concerning the payment of property taxes or improvements on the property.
Evictions can occur for a number of reasons. Tenants can be evicted for failing to pay the agreed-upon rental amount. If a tenant remains in the commercial space for longer than the agreed-upon time, the landlord may evict the tenant, who is then considered a holdover tenant. A frequent argument from commercial tenants is that the landlord improperly evicted the tenant. In Florida, if a commercial tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice before filing an eviction complaint with the court. If the tenant is being evicted for a reason other than non-payment of rent, the landlord must give a 15-day period of notice before filing a complaint with the court. The landlord’s complaint must be served on the tenant, and the tenant then has five days to respond to the complaint. If the tenant responds with a counterclaim (the tenant’s response to the landlord’s complaint), the landlord then has five days to respond. If the tenant fails to respond to the landlord’s complaint, then the eviction is automatically granted by the court. It is particularly important for the landlord to follow the proper eviction procedures, or the landlord could be liable for any financial loss to the tenant due to an improper eviction.
Whether you are a landlord or tenant in the Fort Lauderdale area, consulting an experienced lawyer can be helpful in reviewing the terms of your commercial lease and helping you identify your rights under the agreement. Stok Kon + Braverman has been serving Broward County communities since 1999, and we continue to offer steadfast legal counsel for your real estate matters.