I have a small cafe. The lease agreement states I am renting 1100 square feet, but there is only 950. The landlady first stated she measured it herself. When I brought up the issue a year or so later, she stated the square footage came from the appraisal, but will not give me a copy. Also, the parking we share with our neighbor was removed and given to that adjacent neighbor to use for outdoor seating and a drive-thru. This was parking that had signs stating it was for our address and our neighbor’s. There are other unscrupulous issues with this landlady (real estate broker), but the above two are the largest. We have been leasing the space for 3.5 years and the lease ends (or can be renewed) in three months. Is it worth my time to seek justice in this matter? How should I proceed?
A: This comes down to two things. First, a court will look to the lease as the primary place to determine what the parties agreed to. So the lease provisions (or absence of lease provisions) are important. Second, a court will look at the communications between the parties. What did the landlady say to you? What did you say to her? What did everyone know about the signs? When were they put up and who agreed to them? That sort of thing.
Whether it’s worth your time to pursue it depends on how much you think you’ve been damaged. Certainly as you decide whether to renew the lease, you should be careful that everything important to you is included in the renewal.