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Can you break a lease(commercial) when landlord withheld information regarding fire code violations and heating system failure?

Seattle, WA |

-Signed a 3 year lease, though landlord never disclosed that the heating system was broken
-Was asked to fix back in September, never did
-Previously aware of this issue for years, it was why the last tenant left
-Landlord knew fire codes were being broken and did not notify tenant even after the fire marshal requested it
-Fire Marshal has given 7 days to fix fire code violation, but space is rendered inoperable and unsafe until fixed. Business cannot properly run without this space.
-This fire code violation is not tenant's fault
-Fire code violation will cause temporary business shut down for 7 days

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Attorney answers 2


It sounds like some pretty good facts to escape your lease. But with three years rent at risk, I would take your lease and the notices and consult with a local real estate attorney. I could imagine some rental clauses that could be troublesome.

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I know you know this, but the time to have a consult with a local real estate attorney is before you sign a lease for a commercial space. Commercial agreements are purely creatures of contract. There are no statutory safeguards to protect you as there are in residential tenancies. Your lease is going to say who is responsible for what. It may be that you contracted to do all the maintenance and keep the place up to code. Maintenance is not automatically a commercial landlord's obligation.

No one can really give you accurate advice beyond these vague generalities without reviewing your lease. In Seattle, Scott Weaver at Carney Bagley or Evan Loeffler or Mike Daudt would be good choices.

Elizabeth Powell

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