Fighting City Hall

Old City Hall LLC bought a commercial building in Tacoma with the intent to convert it into luxury condos. Old City Hall needed tenants in the building to vacate to speed up the process. Old City Hall offered to “buy out” existing commercial leases – offering the commercial tenants financial incentives to agree to terminate leases early and vacate. Most of the tenants accepted, but two tenants declined.

Soon the building began to deteriorate. Janitorial services the landlord was contractually obligated to provide declined. Trash began to pile up. Human feces from unauthorized occupants littered the building.

There were break-ins, and the remaining tenants felt the building was becoming unsafe from criminal activity. The landlord’s remedy was to lock one of the entrances, making it inconvenient for the commercial tenants and their patrons to access the building.

Eventually each of the commercial tenants abandoned the tenancy prior to the end of their leases. Old City Hall sued each for unpaid rent for the remainder of each lease. The tenants each argued constructive eviction.

The trial court dismissed the landlord’s claims, finding the tenants were constructively evicted. Old City Hall appealed. The Court of Appeals uphold the trial court and awarded attorney fees on appeal.[1]

If you have questions about a commercial landlord-tenant matter please contact us for a free case evaluation.lawblog-disclaimer1-300x90

by landlord-tenant attorney Travis Scott Eller

[1] Old City Hall LLC v. Pierce County AIDS Foundation, ____ Wn. App. ____ (43810 -1 – II February 25, 2014).