WA state landlord tenant act, commerical lease, dispute with new property manager/landlord

Asked over 6 years ago - Bellevue, WA

I’m a small business owner leasing a part-time office from a company since 2 years ago. A new manager came on board (after my current lease has been automatically renewed) saying that the company can no longer honor the negotiated terms that are in our written contract. She blames the previous management for not doing their job and bending the rules and causing the company to lose money. She said when a lease is automatic renewed; all the negotiated terms that are listed in the Comments section of the initial contract will be disregarded. Tenants are forced to agree on only what it says in the default Terms & Conditions document after the length of the initial term. My contract is from July 1st to June 30th.

Part of the office lease contract says: “Your agreement lasts for the period stated in it and will then automatically be extended for successive periods equal to the length of your initial term until brought to an end by you or by Company X. All periods shall run to the last day of the month in which they would otherwise expire. The fees on any renewal will be the then current market price as specified by Company X. In all other respects, your agreement will renew on the same terms and conditions. Either Company X or you can terminate this agreement at the end date stated in it, or at the end of any extension or renewal period, by giving at least three months written notice to the other.”

The manager and the Area Director want to disregard the negotiated terms that were put in the Comments section of the initial contract signed two years ago. They want me to sign an amendment to our current contract, of course, without those negotiated terms. What are my rights?

What is your interpretation of the above paragraph? Her definition of terms & conditions is the default document and my understanding of terms and conditions are what we agreed on initially including things that are written in the Comments section.

Thanks so much for your feedback,
Frustrated tenant

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . How much is an informed answer worth to you?

    To properly advise you, an attorney would likely have to review all the documents and correspondence between you and the landlord. A contract generally should be read as a whole instead of in bits and pieces.

    Hiring professional help is an ordinary and often necessary part of running a business. If you do not now have a business relationship with an attorney, you likely should look into finding one or more attorneys who can advise you on various aspects of running your business.

  2. Scott Roberts Weaver

    Pro

    Contributor Level 7

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    Answered . As I read your post, I am reminded of how so many commercial tenants don't have their leases reviewed by an attorney before they sign them. A lease review and evaluation can be done in an hour or two. The best couple hundred dollars you will ever spend. One of my colleagues has a number of frugal tenant clients. They have learned never to sign without a quick review.

    Conversely, in your situation, an attorney experienced in commercial leases, could probably review an evaluate your situation in an hour. People will spend great amounts of money on clothes, but they won't spend a few dollars on a contract that has huge financial implications that last for 5 or 10 years. My point is obvious. Spend a few bucks to determine your situation. Nobody can truly evaluate your situation without looking over the documents.

  3. David Alexander Phipps

    Contributor Level 12

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    Answered . I don't know what you mean by the "comments section". I will assume that this refers to part of the lease containing substantive terms, not just informative comments. The new manager's interpetation is almost certainly wrong. I haven't seen the entire lease document or any correspondence, so I'll have to put it this way: If the lease says that the comments section terms are not part of the renewal terms, then the new manager is right. If the lease says nothing about the terms in the comments section being inapplicable to the renewal term, then those terms are applicable to the renewal term.

    But that doesn't mean you can win an argument. Your best move might be to simply tell her that you believe the entire lease has been renewed, that you will be paying the agreed rent on time, and then drop the conversation. If the manager tries to evict you using the proper legal processes, you should win. If the manager evicts you without using the proper legal processes, or interferes with your business to force you to leave, sue for breach of contract.

    One more thing. Since you are leasing a part time office, others have access to the office. You should have copies of all important documents made and kept at home. You should make daily backup copies of all computer files and take the backups home. You should have a hidden camera covering your office so that if some thief steals your computer and your files, you will know who to sue.

    This answer must not be relied on as legal advice for the reasons posted here: http://mcgyverdisclaimer.blogspot.com . And I am not your attorney.

    David

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