When Landlord Tried to Take Advantage of a Tenant During Eviction, He Got More Than He Bargained For

With everything that’s happened over the past 18 months, more people have been facing eviction than ever before – and while that applies to individuals, it also applies to businesses big and small, as well.

This poster works for a company who hosts indoor play events in spaces designed for soft play (soccer, foam pits, trampolines, rock walls, etc), and was in the middle of a renegotiation for a lease on a space when 2020 happened.

I work for a leisure company, think soft play, indoor soccer, laser tag (can’t be specific) Prior to lockdown, Managers and the big bosses were negotiating the renewal of the lease on one of our parks. Things were going mostly smoothly, however, the landlords were difficult to contact.

Then 2020’s s*%t hit the fan.

Businesses were closed, but this company was still paying rent while waiting to figure out whether or not they would be able to stay in the space going forward.

The landlord, though, had other ideas.

All of our sites were closed, and everything was thrown into a mess. Negotiations began to slip down the priority list; nobody thought the landlord would push an eviction for an expired lease during this period.

Especially with it still getting rent, despite the sites closure, and the closure of every business and restaurant in the immediate area.

We were wrong.

He served them with an eviction notice, and included a clause that anything still left in the building at the end of 7 days would belong to him.

Which would be a huge blow, OP explains, because they would be losing the space and all of the work they’ve done inside.

A few days ago we received a letter saying we had 7 days to leave the premises and take everything with us. We are reminded that anything left in the building after 7 days will become the landlord’s property! (that line is very important).

Now a lot of construction goes into installing our equipment into a new building, which makes emptying one even harder. Add a lockdown, with no staff and most businesses shut, it meant that saving much of our assets would prove to be extremely difficult.

To lose a profitable site and all of its assets is definitely a blow to our company. But here is where it gets worse;

Then they realized their landlord was already advertising the space…with all of their equipment already inside and ready to go.

This would not do.

A few days into our 7-day eviction, we find out that the landlord has been advertising our park to our competitors. But he isn’t offering just the building, he is offering ALL OF OUR STUFF PRE INSTALLED. “Ready to go, just needs re-branding.” The landlord has evicted us from the property in an attempt to increase rent and make a solid profit from our equipment installed because he thinks we won’t be able to empty the park.

We were furious.

OP and his fellow employees rallied the troops and took everything out of the building within a few days.

Literally everything that wasn’t (and was) bolted down.

And here is where the malicious compliance came in, we were told we had 7 days to move everything we owned out of the property. so that’s what we did. Local businesses from all around offered up free space to store our things, a few people came back out of lockdown and they all spent the rest of the week removing, selling or destroying everything that was related to us. We didn’t even leave light fittings.

In every other sight vacation we have seen, we always end up leaving thousands of $$ worth of disco lights in the ceilings because they’re too hard to get. We leave most the construction in, as well as things like the bars and kitchens that all stay intact (recognisable as what they once were) but not this building.

We ripped up the flooring we installed, tore down the walls that were not part of the original structure (Wooden walls to divide up the space) ripped apart our manager’s offices and removed all artwork, and lockers.

The landlord is surely stewing, but as they did nothing wrong legally and only complied with his wishes, there’s not a whole lot he can say or do.

The landlord now has every new deal he has been making dead in the water, a large renovation bill to install new flooring etc. (or a company willing to do it themselves like we were).

Lockdown has been extended another 4 weeks, so he has at least another 4 weeks without rent (we were paying) and won’t have any potential buyers.

We handed in the keys and it was probably the quickest handover we’ve ever had. The landlord Cleary didn’t want to make any kind of conversation and there was definitely an elephant in the room, but he definitely said NOTHING about the lack of our equipment.

Complications did arise when we went to get back various deposits, But he had no case to withhold the deposits from us as the building was in excellent shape. (we had conducted much of the maintenance work ourselves, so the building was in a significantly better condition than we found it, (we also cleaned up 99% of the rubbish and dirt from our demolition crusade so he couldn’t bill us for cleaning) )

A very minor bit of pressing from our legal team meant that we received everything owed back in full!

OP is trying to look on the bright side, and surely the sun is starting to peek out from behind the cloud of troubles we’ve all had to navigate.

Silver lining: The assets we got out of the site (fridges, tv’s, equipment, food, tables) have all been sold, and the lack of rent and additional income has helped the business and paid staff wages.

At this moment in time our company is still standing despite the pandemic closures and lack of business, staff are all still employed and doing well!

This is definitely a case of be careful what you ask for, I think.

Do you think they went too far? Are you silently high-fiving these people? Tell us which in the comments!