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Proper legal help keeps leases strong

In Los Angeles and elsewhere, many tenants simply do not know about their rights. While these rights are slightly different for commercial tenants because of certain responsibility clauses that may be written into your lease agreement, the fundamental theory remains the same. As a tenant, your space must function properly, and aspects of the space and its utilities that for which your landlord holds responsibility must be properly maintained and quickly fixed.

But what if your landlord refuses to fix something that you believe is his or her responsibility? The first thing you should do is consult your lease agreement. Unlike residential tenants, commercial leases often include more tenant responsibilities to keep utility systems working or spaces properly maintained. Each lease is different, so there are no hard-and-fast rules about what you are or are not responsible to maintain. However, it is very unlikely that you are responsible for every aspect of the maintenance.

If you believe that your lease states a responsibility that your landlord is not fulfilling, it is wise to consult with an attorney. In some cases, you may have grounds to withhold rent from your landlord until an issue is resolved. However, it is always wise to consult with an experienced commercial real estate attorney to ensure that you are not violating your lease by doing so.

These matters are often rather complicated, and in many cases, a landlord may illegally retaliate against you if you do not follow the law implicitly. For this reason and many others, it is always wise to make the next several steps with the guidance of an attorney to keep yourself legally in the right.

With proper legal counsel, you can identify aspects of your lease and the law that may work in your favor. Ultimately, your landlord is just as bound by the law and your lease as you are, and should hold up his or her end equitably. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights while you work out a fair resolution to your landlord-tenant conflict.

Source: Curbed, "10 Los Angeles renters' rights your landlord doesn't want you to know," Bianca Baragan, April 19, 2017

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