Q: Can a commercial landlord forcibly remove tenant's contents without the eviction process - even if it's in the lease?
Upon coming to that conclusion, he mentioned a "mean way" and a "nice way" to handle this. As an art gallery, we need to be careful how we move everything, so we need some time. He said the "mean way" would be their having "repossession trucks" come in with a bunch of people to throw everything out and haul it away. I've now read the lease, and it does say that essentially that is possible.
Is that truly possible? They can come and forcibly remove everything without going through the proper legal eviction procedures? I read that the CO (Denver) law overrides any such contract language. I need to make sure we have enough time to remove everything properly and avoid damages.
If you have a landlord threatening to remove items from a commercial space, you need to obtain an attorney right away.
In Colorado, we have the unlawful eviction statue otherwise known as C.R.S. 38-12-510. The statute prevents landlord from evicting tenants without resorting to the court process. Unfortunately, this protection only applies to residential leases. See C.R.S. 38-12-502.
It is very possible that a local ordinance may further restrict a commercial landlords ability evict, but that is not a guarantee. Commercial and residential leases are entirely different concepts.
If you have expensive artwork on display, it is paramount that you inform the landlord that such artwork is expensive and needs to be handled in a certain manner. Failure to handle the artwork in that manner may result in damages. In short, you need to put the landlord on notice that if they move the artwork that they could be liable for any associated damages. If they landlord could be liable would turn on the contract and other laws. Regardless, you need to ensure that the landlord is following the contract.
Please note that this is not legal advice. You need to contact an attorney so they can review your contract and give your proper guidance.
Michael Larranaga Esq.
Kevin Michael Strait agrees with this answer
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Mr. Larranaga makes good points in his analysis of situations like yours. I'll add one more point. Speaking generally of Colorado law, commercial leases offer less protections to eviction (even a "wrongful" eviction") because the damages of an eviction can be calculated into dollars. The cost and hardship of being evicted from your home are very high and hard to calculate, so the law protects residential leases differently. The cost and hardship of being evicted from a commercial space is assumed to be an arithmetic problem the court can solve, then award a remedy (in dollars) to one party.
The point I make is this: the landlord may act in a way the lease marginally allows, or even in a way the lease does not allow, if the landlord is willing to accept the court's conclusion on any financial damages you suffer. If your financial damages are low, hard to prove, or non-existent, the landlord may be emboldened to take action contrary to the lease agreement or contrary to common sense.
In situations where the landlord may be acting against the lease terms, the tenant should document all the costs and damages suffered. The eviction may proceed but the tenant will have a good paper trail of costs, losses, and damages to be used in forming a demand for compensation at a later time.
This is only a general analysis of Colorado law. Do seek an attorney's help.
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