Landlord Can “Lockout” Delinquent Commercial Tenant Even If Rent Brought Current

Question: We have a small hair salon in a West Valley shopping mall. We recently fell behind on our rent, and the landlord gave us notice that our rent was delinquent, and that the landlord had the right to terminate our lease and “lock us out.” Our landlord then accepted our late payment of the past due rent, and thus we were current on our rent, including late fees, interest, and attorney fees. Last Saturday night, however, we were “locked out” by our landlord so that when we came to work on Monday morning our hair salon was padlocked, and there were signs posted on our front door saying that we hadn’t paid the rent—when we were current on our rent! Do we have any rights, i.e, money damages from the landlord, for the “wrongful lockout” that has now destroyed our hair salon business?”

Answer: Probably not. In residential leases, the landlord cannot “lock out” a residential tenant delinquent on rent without a court order. In commercial leases, however, after a default, even after the default is cured by the tenant, i.e., the tenant pays all back rent and legal expenses, the landlord can get a court order of eviction, or the landlord has the right to simply “lock out” the tenant without any notice.

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