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Myths about commercial landlord and tenant rights

Most people understand renting in terms of residential property such as a house or apartment. Tenants who rent these units are not selling anything for commercial gain; they are only living there. The lease agreement is usually a set amount for a particular number of months.

A business entity owns commercial rental property. The tenant is using the rental space for a commercial profit-making enterprise to sell services or goods. The lease is a mutually negotiated contract between landlord and tenant. A percentage of the unit's total square footage determines rent amount for a specified number of years.

Myth #1: Federal and state regulations protect commercial tenants

Residential tenants have strong federal and state protections in place against unscrupulous landlords. Commercial tenants have weak or no protection against shady commercial landlords. This is why it is vital for commercial tenants to word their lease agreement carefully with correct legal terms and protections to cover all eventualities.

Myth #2: Commercial landlords must give tenants a 30-days' eviction notice

In Florida, commercial landlords only need to give three days' eviction notice if rent is late or not paid. Either way, the tenant has to respond within five days by paying the rent or filing a counterclaim. The landlord then has to respond to the tenant's counterclaim within five days. This type of claim-counterclaim impasse can go back and forth for weeks, but eventually, a court will decide whether an eviction must take place.

Myth #3: Commercial tenants must have the right to an exclusive business type

A commercial tenant does not want a competitor for his product to move into the same mall or business park. Two Ford dealerships in one auto mall will not make either of the dealers happy. Commercial landlords, however, are not required to include a noncompetition clause in the lease contract. Landlords may choose to do so, but they can also ask a tenant to pay a higher lease amount for the exclusive use agreement.

Before entering into a commercial lease, both a landlord and a prospective tenant should make sure they understand all points of Florida law that relate to their commercial contract. For example, under what conditions may a landlord keep the tenant's deposit? What right does the tenant have if there is fire, smoke or flood damage to his unit? Tenants who have not sought help in negotiating their commercial lease may find they still have to pay rent, even though their unit is no longer habitable for business purposes because of structural damage. 

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