NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 3rd August 2023, 07:11 pm
Residential tenants aren’t the only ones who can face conflict and problems with property owners, but, until recently, commercial tenants had no place to turn. Now, a new law has been passed to protect New York commercial tenants. Introduced as a way of protecting small business owners, the law also protects any commercial tenant in New York. This provides recourse for business owners who previously had no way to free themselves from harassment by the property owners who rent commercial space out to them.
Commercial Landlords Are Accountable
The Non-Residential Tenant Harassment Law took effect in September 2016, extending protection to business owners who rent space for their businesses. While this is a big step forward in evening things up, commercial tenants seeking to file a complaint against their landlord still may have an uphill battle.
There are two conditions for establishing harassment by the property owner. First, the tenant must prove that the commercial landlord, or someone in his employ, is acting to force you to vacate the property, or otherwise compel you to surrender your rights under the terms of the lease.
The second element in proving harassment by the commercial landlord allows for a number of acts considered wrongful treatment of the tenant. Such terms include the use or the threat of the use of force against the tenant, or against the tenant’s customers. Additionally, repeated interruptions, which cause a disruption to the tenant’s business, is also considered harassment under the recently enacted law.
Other acts include initiating court actions against the tenant, where the tenant is not in default on rental payments, seizing personal property from the commercial location, and removing or changing locks. There are also provisions establishing any act that interferes or disrupts with the tenant’s business operations as harassment on the part of the commercial property owner.
The law also establishes protections for the owner of the commercial property, however. Essentially, provisions for the commercial landlord ensure that he’s still able to lawfully terminate a lease, as well as establishing his right to refuse to extend or renew the lease. The law also spells out the landlord’s right to lawfully re-enter and repossess the leased property. While the new law does afford these protections and a few others to the property owner, it’s all null and void, if the tenant can prove the use of violence or the threat of violence perpetrated by the owner of the property.
What Will The Courts Do?
Once a case of harassment is proven in court, it’s up to the judge to determine the appropriate remedy. This includes a mandatory payment from the landlord of $1,000 to $10,000. In addition, the judge may grant a restraining order against the property owner and require him to pay compensatory and punitive damages. In many cases, the judge will also order the defendant to cover the plaintiff’s attorney fees.
In the event the tenant owes back rent to the property owner at the time of the judgment, the amount owed will be deducted from the damages awarded in court. Even in cases where the restraining order has been issued, the commercial tenant is still required to make timely rental payments, so filing harassment charges won’t alter the terms of the lease. The Non-Residential Tenant Harassment Law was enacted merely to extend tenant protections to small business owners and others renting commercial property.
In the event you feel harassed by your commercial landlord, it’s important to document evidence and assemble witnesses to illegal acts committed by the property owner. As you consult with an attorney experienced in commercial landlord and tenant issues, he’ll want to go over your evidence and the specific facts of the case. By looking at this information, the attorney can determine the strength of your case and offer you the best options for your specific circumstances. In some instances, the case may not even need to go through the litigation process in order to achieve a satisfactory resolution.