I am a property owner in Clackamas County Oregon, My building houses three business, mine a second long term tenant and the PROBLEM TENANT takes up the last 1/3 of the building. He has exceeded the 10 day period to pay rent, it is (was) a market and small restaurant. He has not been back to the space for several weeks. I am preparing an Unlawful Detainer now to file with the clerk of the court. Can I change the locks at this point or do I have to wait to go to court? There are other bill collectors, equipment lessors also showing up at this space looking for him. I feel that the security of the building and the remaining tenant(s) is at risk to this person if they do come back. I would prefer to have the locks changed as soon as possible. What do I do with his equipment?
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
I agree with the first answer and only would add the following. As to changing the locks, I would generally not do so unless you know you have the right to recover possession under the terms of the lease. Otherwise, self-help, or what is commonly referred to as a “lockout,” is prohibited. ORS 105.105. As to the equipment, you may have a lien on the lessee's possessions left on the property, which is an additional consideration that you probably should discuss with an attorney. See ORS 87.152 et seq. However, liens are limited to property (e.g. equipment) that the tenant owns outright (i.e. not leased).
If you are not planning on using a lawyer for the FED action, make sure that you satisfy ALL requirements, especially proper notice. Any failure to do so, however technical, could defeat your FED claim and cost you dearly by exposing you to liability for your tenant's attorney fees.
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Unlike residential leases, commercial lease remedies depend largely upon the language in the contract. There are times when you can change the locks and take possession of a debtor's equipment to enforce your right to be paid under the lease agreement, but whether that makes sense in your case has a lot to do with your lease agreement, their breach, and whether you (and your lawyer) thinks there are better ways (legal, realistic, and being politically savvy) to collect any damages. Because you probably don't want to give out more information publicly and probably don't want to waste any more time, you really need to consult with an attorney in private.
Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not intended as legal advice applicable to your specific situation. No attorney/client relationship is created unless and until we have met and entered into a written representation agreement. Contact me at 541-250-0542 to discuss your matter further. www.MaugerLaw.com
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Wills and Living Wills Lawyer
In the comments you state that you are looking for an inexpensive atty or a para. I want to point out that paralegals in Oregon are not to be practicing law. They are to be supervised by an attorney who is a member of the state bar. Hiring a paralegal to do the job of a lawyer often has disastrous results. They have no malpractice insurance and when they screw up your case (notice I said when, not if) you are on your own to salvage it if you can, or find a lawyer to reverse things and try to fix it at a much greater cost than if you had just hired the lawyer in the first place.
You get what you pay for. Just think of it that way.
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