Can tenants in a shopping mall sue the landlord for not renting stores or doing maintenance?

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Can tenants in a shopping mall sue the landlord for not renting stores or doing maintenance?

I own a store in a village type shopping center. Out of 20 potential stores, only 4 are rented. When we moved in we were told the mall had more tenants coming. Turns out the landlord refuses to allow any other business into the mall or keep up on the maintenance. Do the tenants have any recourse for this? Is there be a reasonable expect ion by the tenants that the mall will rent out stores to attract customers to the property. Is anything we can do for the loss of business?

Asked on January 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) If there is any clause in your lease which relates to maintenance or level of occupancy, that clause should be enforceable, and you should be able to bring a legal action based on it (e.g. for an order forcing the landlord to take steps; for compensation; to get out of the lease).

2) If the landlord made to you certain representations as to what he would do, prior to your leasing from him, and those representations were made to induce you to lease, then it is possible you may have a cause of action based in fraud IF the landlord knew, at the time of making those represenations, that they were false. (E.g. at that time was already planning on not renting the whole mall or cutting back on maintenance.) However, if what the landlord told you was true at the time and circumstances changed (e.g. hard economic times; bad rental market), then he did nothing wrong if he could not carry through on them.

Apart from the above, you only other recourse would be if the lack of maintenance is so bad as to essentially make your store or the mall uninhabitable. In that case, you may be able to bring a lawsuit for breach of the implied warranty of habitabilty, again seeking either repairs, compensation, or to terminate the lease.


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