Landlord And Tenant Fight- Restaurant Makeover Is Not The Same As Restaurant Takeover!

In January of 2006, Ronald Dean agreed in writing to lease a restaurant from Steve Kotsopoulos. He also bought some of Steve's used restaurant equipment and paid $40,000.00.

Ronald's sports bar opened for business in April, 2006. It failed three months later. Maybe Ronald should have called Chef Gordon Ramsey for help rather than the lawyers that inevitably followed.

After closing the doors and without telling his landlord, Ronald began to remove his equipment and supplies over the July 1st long weekend.

During that same long weekend, Steve got wind of Ronald's exit strategy and changed the locks. Ronald was stopped from removing the rest of his equipment.

Ronald went to a lawyer who wrote Steve, twice, telling him that Ronald wanted to pick up his equipment.

Steve retained a lawyer who wrote back claiming that Ronald Dean had left the premises without contacting the landlord and had abandoned the equipment ... a kind of "finders keepers ... losers weepers" argument.

As you have probably guessed, Steve Kotsopoulos went ahead and sold the restaurant equipment. Dean sued him for the value of the equipment the landlord had sold.

Ontario's Court Of Appeal was asked to decide whether a landlord can just go ahead and sell off equipment, goods or other property left behind by a tenant who has vacated a property.

So, what do you think? If you as a tenant leave some or all of your belongings behind when you move out, especially if you leave without telling the landlord, have you abandoned your stuff? ... And then, can the landlord go ahead and sell it all off?

Well, it all depends!

If the property is truly abandoned - no problem. The landlord can sell property that has been abandoned and keep the money.

But (and there always seems to be a "but" in legal cases) abandonment only occurs when there is a "giving up, a total desertion, and absolute relinquishment" of property.

The court found that in Ronald's case he had made it clear through his actions by trying to remove the equipment and through his lawyer's letters that he was not abandoning his equipment. The landlord ignored the evidence of Ronald's obvious intentions.

In the end, the court agreed with Ronald Dean and awarded damages of $10,000.00 to him as well as his court costs.

Lesson to be learned? Getting the right advice from your lawyer can save aggravation, time and money.

The Ross Firm has lawyers experienced in leases and landlord and tenant matters.

Give us a call.

Talk to us.

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