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Landlord plays dirty in alleged lease dispute

Regarding the topic of disputed lease provisions, many readers might have personal experience to contextualize this subject. 

For example, college students that choose to live off campus might enter into their first residential lease. College can be a safe place to make small mistakes, so some students may have signed such a lease without even reading it. Hopefully, provisions in the fine print didn’t come to haunt them later. However, if the landlord believed some provision of the lease was later violated, such as noise that resulted in the neighbors filing a complaint with the police, those same college students might find themselves in landlord tenant court for the very first time.

An attorney can provide help when a landlord attempts to break the terms of a lease, perhaps motivated by apparent greed, as in today’s story. According to the tenants, their landlord sent a maintenance worker to their rent-controlled units, ostensibly for the purpose of making repairs. Instead, the worker created a pile of debris and left it there. The tenants claim their units were still left in that unfinished condition months later. They accuse their landlord of trying to get them to move out -- and give up their rent-controlled status. 

Yet similar lease disputes can happen in the business world. Accordingly, it’s a wise idea for a real estate lawyer to provide a legal review of a lease before a business tenant has signed it. Although certain lease terms may seem acceptable to an untrained eye, an attorney experienced in real estate law may recognize when contractual language is vague or might subject a tenant to liability down the road. 

It’s also not uncommon for an attorney to negotiate a lease on behalf of a business. A proactive approach may be able to avoid future disputes. Yet business needs may change, perhaps due to growth. When that happens, an attorney may also provide assistance by negotiating changes to an existing lease. 

Source: The New York Times, “Tenants Living Amid Rubble in Rent-Regulated Apartment War,” Mireya Navarro, Feb. 24, 2014

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