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SC commercial lease

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Latest post Sat, Feb 16 2013 1:41 AM by justin786. 5 replies.
  • Mon, Jan 17 2011 1:02 PM

    SC commercial lease

    I have a situation that I don't know if you could help me with. Point me in the right direction, maybe. My husband and I were looking at opening a general store in SC. We met with the fellow who owned a building there in December 2010 and offered to buy it, but he would never give us a price. He agreed to rent it to us for a year so we said ok.

    We told him we wanted a lease and he agreed. We arrived at his house to sign the lease and pay the 1st month's rent and security deposit. He was having problems with his printer, so the lease was not ready yet. We left the check and we all agreed to come back in a couple days time to sign the lease. It was at this time he mentioned the the previous tenant had not returned both sets of keys to the building, only one, but he gave those to us so that we could go ahead and have access to it. He said he would change the locks and get us new keys.

    We got a call within a few days from the owner who said that an error I made on the check prevented him from depositing it and he would need another. He said the lease was ready to sign and could we come back down. Of course we could. So the next day, we went back and presented a new check, but again was told there was a problem with the printer. So, we left again with assurances they would have it printed elsewhere and have it ready for us to sign.

    This was back around the 20th of December. My husband and I began getting our business license, setting up bank accounts, arranging for water/power/phone hookups, ordering equipment (i.e. cash register, surveillance equipment, etc) as well as researching merchandising. My husband has made several attempts since then to meet with the fellow to get a lease, but with one excuse or another, has not gotten one. So, we decided that it was in our best interest to cancel the thought of opening the store (which was originally planned on for Jan 1st of this year) and called the owner to tell him.

    We told him that since he has been unable to produce the agreed signed lease agreement, we were no longer interested in the building and would like our money back (security and first month's rent). The owner became belligerent and blamed it on us for not coming out to sign the lease (which he again claimed was ready). He claimed that we had keys, so we could have already opened up. We tried to explain to him the insanity of paying deposits and buying merchandise for an unsecured building (the locks had not been changed and the previous tenant still had the second set of keys) that we had no legal right to. He made several unnecessary comments to my husband and then hung up on him. Every attempt to reach him thereafter by phone has gone unanswered.

    My husband went out to his house today to try to talk to him, but he refused to acknowledge my husband's presence and had his wife tell my husband that they have turned it over to their lawyer. My husband and I understand that we should not have paid the security/first month without a lease, but we were ready to get started and were understanding about computer/printer problems. We also understand that getting the full amount back is probably not going to happen, but we feel we should at least get our deposit back since we never even used the building. Would you please point me in the right direction on where to take this? Do we file a small claim? Do we need to hire a lawyer or a mediator? Should we try to continue to speak with him? His wife would not give us the name of their lawyer or anyone else that we needed to talk to so we are truly lost. Any help that you can give would be appreciated.

  • Mon, Jan 17 2011 1:10 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 3 2000
    • CA
    • Posts 28,248

    Re: SC commercial lease

    You are either going to have to sue him to get the money back or wait for him to sue you for beaching the lease - which may never happen since you didn't sign it.

    I sould be looking in to suing him - in small claims if the amount is small enough.

  • Fri, Oct 5 2012 11:29 PM In reply to

    • Switzer
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Sun, Jul 22 2012
    • ID
    • Posts 100

    Re: SC commercial lease

    Pay out a little money to get a lawyer to write up a notice stating that if they don't pay your money back, you will take them to court. It is perfectly legal to do so and is usually enough to light a fire under their hind quarters.

  • Sat, Oct 6 2012 12:59 AM In reply to

    Re: SC commercial lease

    Sorry, but I think you blew it.

    Here's how I see it.

    You gave him money. He gave you keys.

    In the absence of a written lease you rented the place on a month to month basis. Yes, you can rent a commercial building on a month to month basis.

    As for the locks, all you had to do was change them yourselves to secure the building. Would have been something you should do anyway since you can never be sure how many duplicate keys are out there.

    You gave him a month's rent and a security deposit. Legally, you are in possession. If you don't pay rent on the due date next month, you're in breach and he's entitled to apply your deposit to whatever time it takes him to re-rent.

    You can sue him if you like with or without a lawyer but I don't think much of your chances of success.

    Expensive life lesson from the school of hard knocks.


    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
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