California business office was burglarized, am I responsible for the cost of exterior glass door repairs?

by irvmtb. Posted on Sep 14, 2020    3    8


Hello small business owners on reddit. This is the first time it's happened to me so I'm trying to see if anyone else could share their experience. I tried to research but most articles are about residential rental properties.

The business office I'm renting was burglarized a couple of weeks ago. Landlord was quick to have the broken glass door boarded up the glass replaced. Thieves then tried to break in again ten days later, and broke the glass door again but were scared of by alarms I had installed. Landlord was quick to board up and have the glass door replaced again.

Anyway today I received an email with an invoice for more than $1k for the cost of the boards and glass replacement and service. It just seems wrong to me that I'm on the hook for this. I thought exterior damage was their responsibility. Also, if I was going to pay for it, why were they the ones deciding on the replacement and I didn't even see the quotes. I think they want my insurance to shoulder the cost, I have business liability coverage, is this really my responsibility and my insurance that should be on the hook and not theirs?

Other annoying stuff that bothers me too: turns out there were other previous break-ins in the property but tenants were not informed. After my first break-in there were no improvements like additional lighting or added security. Anyway if I have rights, I'll fight it. If it's really my responsibility, then I'll probably just end my lease since it's not worth it to stay here anymore if there's this threat and I'm on the hook for all the costs.


Comments

majkrem32

No you're not responsible for the damage, how could you be? It was not caused by you. I hope you do have a police report in hand regarding the damage, their insurance company surely requires it. They should have insurance to cover such incidents.

Get a lawyer asap on the situation.

thehalfwit 1

What's in your lease? That responsibility is usually spelled out crystal clear.

UncleFishKiller 6

Typically doors and windows are a tenant responsibility, since you are the more likely person to damage them. I'm a little curious to know why your landlord didn't notify you so that you could hire it done, since clearly they feel you were the financially responsible party. I would get quotes from other companies and compare. In most commercial leases, the landlord is responsible for exterior building and roof, common area and yes, lighting. Problem is, once you sign a lease, they are under no obligation to improve anything. If you have a lease renewal coming up, you can bargain for TI (tenant improvements) which are typically things that add to the value of the building like paint, flooring, HVAC, lighting and maybe security bars?

Bottom line, check your lease. It should be spelled out.

  irvmtb 2

Thanks for the response, and you are correct about doors and windows. I reviewed my lease before signing it, but the responsibility for the glass did not jump out to me since it was under the "premises" section and I likewise assumed that was for damage I could do to it while in the premises.

I did not realize too that when the contract identified Roof and Exterior Walls as landlord responsibility, that the window and exterior door that's part of the exterior and part of the wall were exempted from that responsibility. It was my first business lease so I guess that shows what I knew :|

I guess I was caught off guard because I asked offhand if there was like a fund or landlord insurance that covers this. I was also surprised they were so quick to board up and have the glass replaced... even after the second break in. I even asked the installer if they were sure my landlord wanted the glass replaced already since that was the second break in within 10 days. If I were making the decision I'd keep the board up and just paint it or something. F that glass, I wouldn't have replaced with glass again and open my unit to the same risks.

I'm month to month already, and based on this I'm leaning towards just terminating the lease. The surprise billing doesn't sit well with me, maybe it's easy to get covered by insurance so they thought nothing of it, but I would've decided against another glass door that doesn't protect my space and contents had I known it were up to me. Lesson learned I guess.

Unfortunatefortune 1

It comes down to the lease but often leases around contradictory to different sections of it. If they wrote the lease remember that any ambiguity is going to go in your favour.

With that being said I would suggest looking into your insurance or that of the building. If you have glass coverage usually the deductible is super low (I’ve seen as low as $100). It could also be possible based on the lease that the building is required to make you an additional named insured. This would mean you can open a claim under the buildings policy.

Good luck.

UncleFishKiller 3

If nothing else is sounds like the landlord hasn't made a good faith effort to protect the premises. That IS a landlord responsibility, so lease termination sounds like a good plan as long as you have other options.

Good luck to you

lacadasical 5

You should ask r/legaladvice since this is legal in nature.

One thing I didn’t see addressed in your post was your contract. Does it mention damage?

  irvmtb 4

Thanks for the input, good point.

I reviewed the contract just now and although roof and exterior walls are their responsibility, they specified that premises "including glass doors and windows" are tenant responsibility. Ugh. When I signed the contract it looked normal enough, I must've read it as damage possibly coming from inside the premises. I've assumed that exterior walls included exterior doors and windows since they're part of the walls.

Based on this I'll try to have insurance cover it. If I'm left on the hook, I would at least raise the issue that I was not shown the quotes, nor was I the one that gave the approval, etc. Also now that I know I'm responsible for the glass and that burglars have been active lately, I'll probably just terminate the lease since it'll be too much hassle over something I have no control over while I'm here.