Q: The landlord of my warehouse brought me a bill because someone stole the electrical wiring from the roof of the building
We didn't move in yet but signed the contract 2 months ago. He claims this clause in the contract makes us liable.
Does he have any right to ask us to pay for the stolen copper wire cables stolen from the outside of the building?
11. Utilities and Services. Lessee shall pay for all water, gas, heat, light, power, telephone, trash disposal and other building utilities services or upgrades supplied to the Premises, together with any liens thereon. If any such services are not separately metered or billed to Lessee, Lessee shall pay a reasonable proportion, to be determined by Lessor, of all charges jointly metered or billed. There shall be no abatement of rent and Lessor shall not be liable in any respect whatsoever for the inadequacy, stoppage, interruption or discontinuance of any utility or service due to riot, strike, labor dispute, breakdown, accident, repair or other cause beyond Lessor’s reasonable control or in cooperation with governmental request or directions.
The information you provided is not sufficient to answer the question. When was your move in date? Who was responsible under the lease for the security of the premises? Did the LL have any security devices on the premises? Did you know the wiring was on the roof, and what do you mean the wiring was on the roof- was it just wire cable lying there in coils or did the thieves tear out the wiring that was installed in the building? You also have a problem in that this is a commercial lease, not a residential one so the LL only has the obligation to repair defects as put into the lease. You need to consult with a local real property attorney for commercial leases.
If you were supposed to be in occupancy and your absence allowed the thieves to enter the property and steal the material, you may be liable. The section you quoted does not seem to apply to this situation. It isn't a utility service, nor is it an upgrade, Was the wire just being stored on the roof or was it being used for delivery of power?
A: Based on the clause you provided from the contract, it appears that the responsibility for paying utilities and services, including any liens, is placed on the lessee (tenant). However, the clause does not explicitly state that the lessee is liable for theft or damage to the building's infrastructure. Liability for theft generally falls under criminal law and is not typically transferred to tenants unless there is a specific provision in the contract addressing such circumstances. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can review the contract in its entirety and provide accurate advice based on the specific details and applicable laws in your jurisdiction. They will be able to assess whether the landlord has a valid claim for payment and guide you on the best course of action.
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