Can we sue the landlord of the commercial property we leased for the security deposit and possibly more?

Asked over 5 years ago - Amissville, VA

We signed a year long commercial lease for a rental of a building to house a take out. The contract says "commercial Contract" and has "carry-out" restaurant written on it. Two months after opening up, a zoning board member stopped to say that this building was not zoned commercial, but residential. He was very nice and explained that this particular landlord has done this often. He said we had 90 days to file for commercial zoning, and we could stay until those 90 days were up. Since there was no guarantee of getting the zoning, we told the landlord he needed to pay the $2,000+ for the zoning application. He said he would take care of it. When asked a few weeks later he said he took care of it, but in December we had a dance to raise money for a cause and the landlord said we couldn't have any more dances because it wasn't zoned commercial. My husband got upset because at this point we had invested money in signs, advertising, etc. Since we didn't want to invest anymore in a building that we would soon probably be kicked out of by the zoning board, we told the landlord we were leaving at the end of December. We had paid up through December, on time every month. He said that the zoning board promised not to bother us even though it wasn't zoned commercially. Of course, we were not believing him this time. Now it has been over 45 days, and we have not received our deposit back, nor a letter stating any money he was taking out of the deposit. We sent a certified letter requesting the full deposit back, but have not received it. My question is what is the next step and can we sue for more than just the deposit, like the extra money we spent for advertisement, signs for the building that are useless now, turning down other locations because we thought we would be in this location, etc. What route do we need to take? We talked about sending a warrant in debt but wanted some advice first. We have a copy of the contract, and it is notarized. Thank you for your time.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Lease terms are routine that the renter must pay the equivalent of one month's rent in order to terminate the lease early.

    If the contracting parties to a lease agree what the damages are for early termination, the damages are said to be liquidated. Both landlord and tenant must abide by the liquidated damage provision in the lease.

    Check the lease wording and see a VA lawyer.

    You might find my Legal Guide helpful "What Do I Tell My Lawyer"?

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-do-i-...

    No one can know what the record is in the case because online we cannot find out any details. Check with a lawyer in your locale to discuss more of the details.

    Good luck to you.

    God bless.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer for educational purposes only.

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