What happens when I stop paying rent on my commercial lease?
Step 1: Communication
The tenant’s landlord will likely be contacting the tenant. They will want to know why the tenant isn’t making payments. The tenant may be able to explain that sales are down and request some leeway. If it’s a private landlord owner, they may be more open to negotiating with the tenant. In this high vacancy market, it’s better to have a tenant who is paying something rather than an empty unit.
Step 2: Three-Day Notice
Before an action for unlawful detainer can be brought, the landlord must send a three-day notice. This notice has very specific requirements and must be followed exactly. If the notice is not correct, the tenant may object to the action for unlawful detainer later on in the process. This notice, for example, should be in writing, describe the premises, be signed, demand possession, demand rent, specify the precise amount of rent due or specifically mention that the amount is estimated, and much more.
Step 3: The Unlawful Detainer Complaint
If no payment is issued to the landlord after receiving the three-day notice, the landlord will then file an actual complaint for unlawful detainer and summons.
Step 4: The Tenant Responds
There are several options available to a tenant after they receive the complaint for unlawful detainer. The tenant may answer, move to quash service of summons because of some defect, file a demurrer, and/or file a motion to strike. Deciding which response to utilize all depends on the facts of the case, the three-day notice, the complaint, and the summons. This decision requires experience and knowledge of unlawful detainer laws. The tenant may be able to have the case completely dropped at this stage.
Step 5: Discovery and Trial
If tenant is not able to have the case dismissed based on their response, discovery and trial will ensue. Discovery is the process of obtaining evidence to help prove the parties’ case. During this stage, parties may file for summary judgment or take other actions. Assuming the case isn’t dismissed during this stage, the parties will go to trial and attempt to prove their case in open court.
Step 6: Eviction
Assuming the tenant loses the case and a judgment was issued, a writ of possession and execution will be provided to the landlord by the court. These documents will permit the landlord to proceed through formal eviction with the sheriff delivering the eviction notice to the tenant. The tenant may then apply for a stay of execution or the tenant will be evicted.
Helpful Documents from the Courts
By: Trevor Carson Google+
*The information provided in this post does not constitute legal advice or opinion. The information is for guidance purposes only. Individual situations vary and you should contact us for a consultation.
Image: Jeroen van Oostrom