Monday, March 16, 2009

It's OK, he bought me a bottle of booze.

I can't make this stuff up. This is a true story.

I recently was assigned a lease renewal negotiation. I called the supervisor of the office to find out if any concerns existed or in general if there was anything I needed to know before I started haggling with the landlord.

I wasn't really expecting an answer. I wasn't really expecting anything. I definitely wasn't expecting what followed.

Tenant: No we really like the space and would like to continue letting it. (obviously we discuss other stuff like future TI dollars and rate increase etc. Just before hanging up the following happened).

Me: Okay, well that pretty much tells me what I need to know. Do you have any concerns or issues you'd like addressed while I am renegotiating the lease?

Tenant: Not really that I can think of off the top of my head... Well, it's a small thing really. I don't want to bother you.

ME: No bother at all. this is my job. What is going on and I'll see what we can do.

Tenant: Well, could you maybe see if we could get the heat turned on?

ME: Do you mean you don't have a thermostat to regulate your space's temperature (making mental list to check lease about utility costs and whether triple net lease or not, i.e. half listening to response)

Tenant: No, the heater broke during last winter and it was cold.

ME: I'm sorry I thought you said the heater broke? For how long? (still thinking a short period of time)

Tenant: A couple months

ME: I'm sorry but, You had no heat. At All. in your office in Northern New York for a Couple Months?

Tenant: Yeah

ME: Did you call anybody and let them know this was going on?
Tenant: Yeah
ME: Who?
Tenant: The landlord.

ME: Why didn't you call my office?!

Tenant: How are you gonna fix the heater? You're in *home office city*

ME: I know that I'm not there but I can contact the landlord and demand that the service be restored.

Tenant: Well that's what I did. I don't need a lawyer to do that. I demanded that they turn on the heat.

ME: Did you document the demand in writing? Did you follow up with a second demand? thinking to myself very irritated, did you manage to get the heat turned on?

Tenant: No, only a lawyer would do something like that.

[SIDE NOTE: to those of you that read this, that is not true, right? I mean when you're demanding something from a business that might eventually need to have a judge solve it, you put it in writing, right? If your answer is no, please begin to do this immediately. Send it certified. A lawyer told you so.]

ME: Okay, when something like this happens, you need to contact my office. The company paid rent when it should have been withheld. What you are describing is a constructive eviction.

Tenant: I'm being evicted? Why?

ME: No, when the heat wasn't on, that qualifies as a constructive eviction which means
Tenant: (interrupting) you mean I was evicted and you didn't do anything about it? That's why I didn't have heat? What do we pay you for? How'd you get them to let me back in?

ME: No, you weren't actually evicted...constructive eviction is....nevermind, forget about eviction. When the landlord doesn't turn on the heat, air conditioning, water or any other needful service that is required in the lease (I read said lease to him), I need to know immediately. That way, we can withhold rent and break the lease and collect damages or deal with the landlord so he prorates the rent or pays to supply other space until the problem can be fixed. That type of thing is exactly what I get paid for, but only if I am made aware of it. Actually just call me when anything goes wrong, not just those things I listed. I mean it.

Tenant: Does that mean my rent is free next year?

ME: No, because you didn't let me know about it when it happened and we kept occupying the space, we don't have a cause of action.

Tenant: Oh well, I guess that's okay. The landlord bought me a bottle of booze.

I am thinking that must be some liquor considering we pay thousands of dollards per month to lease this space. I hope it kept him warm in his cold office, but the pressing question is: Did he pass the bottle around to the other people that work there? I'm guessing the knowledge that the landlord bought him a bottle of booze was little consolation while they froze their asses off! Sheesh.


  1. Yeah, in my line of work, it's document, document, document. And now I have this Dickensian vision of a bunch of office workers in fingerless gloves and mufflers setting fires in their trash cans to keep warm.

  2. Because I love the acronyms...I call it CYA (Cover Your Ass) :) pretty sure someone taught me that in law school...definitely pre-corporate life.