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Understand obligations when enforcing a commercial lease

Although landlords can access ‘boilerplate’ documents online, it is a better idea to sign a strong, customized commercial lease that will consider issues specific to your building, Toronto business lawyer Inga Andriessen tells

As Andriessen, principal of Andriessen & Associates, explains, commercial leasing law is complicated and boilerplates often use “old English” language that non-lawyers may not necessarily understand.

“Additionally, boilerplates do not consider the specific issues of your building — if you are the landlord — or your business, if you are the tenant,” she adds.

A landlord’s obligations vary from lease to lease, says Andriessen, and are often negotiated — for example, who is responsible for supplying garbage services. 

“A landlord needs to understand their obligations so they do not end up being sued by a tenant for failure to meet those obligations,” she says.

When it comes to enforcement and dealing with tenants who are behind on their commercial rent, Andriessen says landlords have two options. They can either distrain, which involves sending in a bailiff to collect the chattels — items such as computers and phones — from the tenant’s premises in order to sell them to the value of the arrears, or they can terminate the lease. 

“The tenant is always liable for the arrears to the end of the term of the lease, provided the correct wording is used to terminate the lease,” says Andriessen.

However, she cautions, landlords can be liable for damages to the tenant for improper distrain.

Ultimately, Andriessen says a lawyer can help with commercial leasing enforcement by informing landlords as to the options available and introducing them to reputable bailiffs who will not create a liability problem for the landlord.

To Read More Inga Andriessen Posts Click Here
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