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Commercial Landlord-Tenant Disputes Lawyer in Toronto, Ontario

The commercial property vacancy rate in Toronto rose in 2021 to the highest level since the 2008 recession. Companies that sent their employees home to work during the COVID-19 pandemic are assessing whether they really need all of the square footage they had before.

It may be a tenant’s market for the foreseeable future, and landlords will no doubt need to make their leases more lucrative. Disputes will, of course, arise between them. When they do, consulting with an experienced real estate lawyer will be the best route to pursue.

Lawyer Matthew Harris founded his firm — Matthew R Harris Law P.C. — to offer superior legal services and counsel to businesses in Toronto, Hamilton, London, and Ottawa, Ontario. As a skilled negotiator and litigator, he works to help companies find the best solutions for their legal challenges.

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What Is the Commercial Tenancies Act?

Ontario recognizes that there are differences between commercial landlord and tenant relationships and residential ones. The province passed the Commercial Tenancies Act to codify the commercial landlord-tenant relationship and the rights and responsibilities of each party.

The lease is the instrument by which landlords and tenants agree to do and not do certain things. How that lease is written is vital to its enforceability, but the Commercial Tenancies Act establishes a baseline for the relationship. This baseline is relied upon when the lease fails to address an issue.

Under the law, commercial landlords hold the right to give tenants written notice of breaches of the lease and offer a reasonable amount of time for them to comply. If they fail to do so, the landlord has the right to end the tenancy and evict the tenants. The landlord can seek payment of damages from the tenants via the courts.

Commercial tenants must pay their rent on time and may not withhold rent because they believe the landlord is not complying with the lease terms. Tenants must comply with the terms of the lease agreement and can seek relief from the court if necessary.

Common Commercial Landlord-Tenant Disputes

Disputes arise when either the landlord or the tenant believes the other to not be complying with the terms of the lease. Or they occur when an issue is not addressed specifically in the lease and therefore left to interpretation. Some common disputes include:

  • A tenant refusing to pay rent until the landlord makes a repair or improvement

  • Disagreement about whose responsibility it is to pay for a repair or maintenance

  • A tenant subletting the property to someone who is not a party to the lease

  • A landlord’s changing of locks, seizure of property, or eviction of a tenant for nonpayment of rent

  • A landlord’s selling of seized property for rent in arrears

  • An increase in rent

  • Withholding of a tenant’s security deposit at the end of a lease

Options to Remedy Disputes

The first option when there is a commercial lease dispute is to consult with a business and real estate lawyer. The lawyer will be able to review the lease, identify applicable legal issues, and offer recommendations regarding dispute options.

Some leases include an agreement as to how disputes will be resolved. A lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution or encourage the parties to participate in alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration.

A landlord or tenant may also petition the court for relief. If the matter involves a sum of money that qualifies for small claims court, the matter should be filed there. If not, the matter will need to be filed with the Superior Court of Justice.

The Importance of a Lawyer

A lease is a contract, willingly entered into by a commercial landlord and a tenant. What the lease fails to address, Ontario’s Commercial Tenancies Act does. Contracts and the law are the purviews of lawyers which is why it is wise to consult one about the language of a lease and about resolution options when disputes arise.

Commercial Landlord-Tenant Disputes
Lawyer Serving Toronto, Ontario

Lawyer Matthew Harris has represented hundreds of clients in matters involving commercial landlord and tenant disputes in Toronto, Ontario, Hamilton, London, and Ottawa. He can provide knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel to you as well. If you are involved in a commercial dispute or need a lease that will help you avoid them, call Matthew R Harris Law P.C.