Lease Doctor: Surviving a natural disaster, and your landlord

By in Press Enterprise on September 17, 2017

By Todd Dorn

With all the recent fire, flooding and adverse weather activity, many businesses wonder what their rights are in the event they encounter one of these disasters.

After personally living just a few miles from the epicenter of the great Northridge earthquake in 1994, I witnessed firsthand the widespread damage and destruction to homes and businesses.

Not only was it a major catastrophe with many lives lost and homes destroyed, but the collateral damage to businesses was significant as well. Many buildings were red tagged as unsafe for occupancy for a lengthy period of time and many business owners were displaced and left wondering when they could occupy their place of business space once again, or if they were able to do so.

Unfortunately for many of these business owners, they were left in limbo not knowing when or how long building repairs would take and how long they would be displaced and if they were obligated to pay rent while being displaced. In addition, questions about who pays for the damage were also of concern.

Many business owners have no choice but to make risky split-second decisions to relocate their business after a natural disaster and may have to potentially sign a second lease elsewhere without knowing exactly what their lease provisions say and what their rights and obligations are as a commercial tenant. Many business owners will find themselves with added financial obligations, such as having to make double lease payments with some relocated tenants being forced to sign longer temporary leases than they would have preferred, because they had no choice, and had to keep their businesses running.

Building repairs are typically a very slow process due to requirements from local building departments as well as the landlord’s insurance carriers and multiple inspections which can take the process as long […]    

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