Owner-Skewed Leases Lead to Mall Tenant Lawsuit

Disgruntled tenants at a Virginia mall are learning the hard way that agreeing to an owner’s lease provisions that put the entire cost and obligation to repair on tenants isn’t working out. While it’s not typical for an owner to put all of a property’s upkeep requirements on tenants, it’s also not illegal.

The mall caters primarily to tenants that operate restaurants and stores that specialize in Vietnamese cuisine and products. Many tenants feel that they’ve been taken advantage of because English isn’t their first language and at the time they signed their leases, they didn’t fully understand the implications of the one-sided repair and maintenance clauses. But the owner argues that the tenants are sophisticated merchants and should’ve been aware.

Now, it’s likely that negligence claims against the owner for its alleged failure to keep the mall up to code and resolve poor air quality, sewage, and trash disposal issues, among other complaints, will be settled in court. A lawsuit is underway, but as specified in the tenants’ leases, it will be conducted in Florida, where the owner resides, despite the fact that the mall is in Falls Church and the tenants live in that area.


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