Can My Landlord Kick Me Out for a Better Deal?

Jennifer asks…
Have you ever come across a strip mall landlord trying to force out the tenants in order to be able to sell the land and rebuild a Walmart type store? Can a tenant have a long term lease for say 25 years? And if so, what would be some of their tactics be?

Jennifer, the ability of the landlord to do that is totally dependent upon the lease terms. For example, if you have a 5 year lease with a 5 year option to renew and you exercise your option, you have a lease. Not only do you have a lease, but normally any buyers are “stuck with you.” Here’s the language from my lease:

35-6. Successor and Assigns. The covenants and conditions herein contained, subject to the provisions as to assignment, apply to and bind the heirs, successors, executors, administrators and assigns of the parties hereto.

Now, if I am a landlord and Wal-Mart want to make a favorable deal with me, here’s what I might do to get you to leave:

  • Attempt to default you on any permissable grounds, like being one day late on the rent. Depending upon your jurisdiction, I may or may not be successful. In California, the judge would look at my tactics as not acting in good faith. In Texas, he might very well find for the landlord.
  • Offer a buyout
  • Offer a relocation to another center for the same or better terms

You asked about a 25 year lease. Are you thinking of becoming a “spoiler” Jennifer? That would put you in a very strong position. For a strip mall, however, it’s unlikey that you’ll get a 25 year lease, more likely 5 to 10 years with some options to renew on conditions, for either term.

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