Commercial tenants warned about '13-inch' landlords

Commercial landlords, some tenants are onto you. And they are not happy about paying for space that simply doesn't exist.

“We call them landlords with 13-inch rulers,” says Dale Willerton, president of The Lease Coach, adding that the growing phenomenon is common in the commercial leasing field.

Speaking to Business in Vancouver, Willerton says that commercial tenants frequently trust the square footage reported on their leases premises. Many of such overcharging cases, he adds, are due to negligence and not necessarily fraudulent.

“Even the smallest amount of phantom space can grow to be quite large as rental rates and common area maintenance charges increase over time,” Willerton noted.

He recalled one case of a 27-sq. ft. discrepancy in a downtown Vancouver shopping mall which totalled a $20,000 error over a seven-year lease agreement.

Tenants have two options in this case. They can factor the monetary recovery in as part of the lease-renewal negotiation or they can take more drastic steps, such as legal action.

In the event a discrepancy is revealed and the landlord is resisting an adjustment or a refund, the tenant has a couple of options, he said.

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