Monday, July 18, 2016

Sexual Harassment Can Occur in Commercial Land Transactions

by Eric Nord, Esq.

In a case of first impression, the Montana Supreme Court determined that a commercial tenant could prevail against a landlord on a claim of sexual harassment.

In Bates v. Neva, 2014 MT 336, 2014 MT 336, a commercial tenant brought an action against her landlord claiming that the landlord stopped making necessary repairs to the building when the tenant rebuked his sexual advances. Originally, a hearing officer denied the tenant's claim that the landlord's conduct violated the Montana Human Rights Act (MHRA), but the Human Rights Commission reversed. When the landlord petitioned for judicial review to the local district court, the court vacated the Commission's decision and reinstated the hearing officer's decision. Finally, the tenant appealed to the Supreme Court.

Read More
Thursday, March 10, 2016

Emotional and Evaluative Elements of Mediation

by Philip J. Glick, Esq.

When one mediates a dispute, it may surprise the mediator that the parties may be unwilling to objectively look at the case. Indeed, an intelligent person can choose to stick to a position that ignores obvious reality, possibly even in the face of advice of counsel to the contrary.

Why does this happen? I think it is a kind of pleasure principal at work. Indeed, it is immensely pleasing to justify one's actions, even where serious risk is created. One bathes in the glow of his or her own goodness and righteousness while the other side is perceived as trying to avoid responsibility and is guilty of legal, economic and moral wrong. It's like a theatrical production, with casting, choreography, and publicity all by the party who refuses to see the truth.

Read More
Monday, February 15, 2016

What Happens at an Eviction Hearing?

by Timothy H. Baland, Esq.

Landlords often ask me what happens at an eviction hearing in Minnesota. The simple answer is that one of four things can happen, depending on what the landlord wants to happen and whether or not the tenant shows up.

Read More
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Corporate Landlords Must Be Represented by Attorney in District Court

by Timothy H. Baland, Esq.

In a published decision issued on Monday, November 9, 2015, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that corporate landlords—including limited partnerships—must be represented by a licensed attorney in district court.

A15-0496: Hinckley Square Associates, Respondent, vs. Leah D. Cervene, Appellant.

On appeal from a judgment ordering her eviction, appellant Leah Cervene argues that the district court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the complaint because respondent-landlord Hinckley Square Associates ("Hinckley Square") is a limited partnership and did not appear through licensed counsel in district court.

Read More
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Laws Cover Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations on Leased Property

by Kevin R. Nimmons, Esq.

Governor Brown recently signed two additions to the Civil Code governing lessees' rights to install electric vehicle ("EV") charging stations. Section 1947.6 applies to residential properties; section 1952.7 applies to commercial properties. Lessors and lessees, and their attorneys, should consider these laws in lease negotiations to avoid disputes when a lessee desires to install a charging station.

Read More
Thursday, April 9, 2015

Commercial Real Estate: Do Letters of Intent Create Enforceable Contracts?

by Travis C Logue, Esq.

In commercial real estate transactions, whether it's a purchase or lease, letters of intent are ubiquitous. They appear absolutely harmless. After all, they are non-binding and only a "tool" for future negotiation, right? In fact, most letters of intent go out of the way to explicitly state that "it shall not be construed in any way to be legally binding" or that "your signature below merely means you are agreeing to this invitation to negotiate".

Read More
Monday, December 8, 2014

Abandoned Personal Property: Does a Landlord's Lien Help?

by William P. Ayers, Esq.

A nonresidential tenant's eviction or abandonment can create many questions for landlords. As one example, many landlords wonder what to do with the equipment, desks, filing cabinets and other property that fill a commercial space.

What can (or should) the landlord do with personal property that the tenant leaves behind following an eviction or actual abandonment of the premises?

Read More
Monday, November 3, 2014

Rent Payments and Restrictive Endorsements

by Scott I. Zucker, Esq.

It is not uncommon for a commercial landlord to receive a tenant's rent payment with some type of restrictive endorsement on the face of the check or above the deposit line. Language such as "payment in full" or "endorsement constitutes acceptance and accord and satisfaction" can cause anxiety for a landlord who doesn't know whether to accept the check or return it.

Read More
Thursday, June 19, 2014

When Is a Tenant's "Abandonment" Really Abandonment?

by William P. Ayers, Esq.

Consider this factual scenario. You represent a landlord of a nonresidential property, a shopping center, and your client informs you that one of his tenants, who is current on the rent, but has been struggling for some time to pay the monthly rent, met with the property manager yesterday and told the manager that he was closing his business. Your client tells you that the property manager also learned that

  1. tenant's vendors were told to come and pick up their inventory and equipment,
  2. tenant informed his employees not to come back to work, and
  3. the tenant posted a sign on the premises notifying customers that the business was closed, and today the manager confirmed that the premises were locked and "dark."
Read More
Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Savvy Tenant: Tips for the Tenant Improvement Allowance

by Gary Quinnett, Esq.

Suppose that you wish to open a restaurant in a new shopping center. Suppose further that the landlord will deliver the premises as a shell. On the one hand, this gives you the flexibility to finish the premises to meet your business’ needs, subject of course to the landlord’s approval of the design. On the other hand, get out your checkbook because tenant improvements are expensive, easily amounting to more than $200,000 for a small restaurant.

In this case, a savvy tenant will negotiate a tenant improvement allowance with the landlord.

Read More