I signed a lease for a commercial space in Chicagio, IL. I scheduled my move out of my prior space with the landlords assurance for when the buildout would be complete. The bulidout took longer than expected, but I was assured it would be complete within 1 month. I was able to extend my agreement at my old space and rescheduled the move.
When it came time to move, there were still items not complete. I had emailed the landlord about these incomplete items numerous times. Finally, on the advice of my attorney, I notified the landlord that I would hire someone to complete the final items and deduct the cost from my remaining payment for the buildout. I did this.
Three weeks after I emailed the landlord, he stated he was ready to do the remaining work. I told him the work was complete and I was paying for it from funds for the buildout (approx $650). The landlord was upset, and now he threatens to send this to a collection agency.
I have 2 questions:
1. If the collection agency threatens to impact my credit rating, do I have any recourse?
2. Is there any action I can take to get the landlord to drop this?
Thanks for any assistance
You should consult your attorney who advised you to pay for build out to begin with. He can send a demand letter to the landlord threatening to sue for your damages caused by landlord's late delivery of premises.
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You should read the lease carefully and see if it deals with the situation you are in. Many commercial leases have specific provisions regarding what can and cannot be deducted from the rent.
An option you have is to pay the rent and file a claim for the repairs in small claims court. If you win there (and, usually, lawyers are not allowed in small claims court -- and you do not have to hire one-- you can demand that your landlord repay you.
1. If you win your case and the landlord reported you to a credit agency you might have a claim of slander of credit. The problem with it, is you will have to PROVE the amount of damage you suffered as a result of the poor credit rating, and that is hard. You are entitled to put your version of the facts on the credit report.
2. Talk to the landlord calmly and offer to pay him but tell him that you are going to make the claim in small claims court because you think it is right. You might consider to offer to split the amount with him. I agree it should be dropped, but it might be a good idea to help get a good relationship with your landlord.
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